Louisiana possesses the greatest percentage of locally-born residents throughout the United States, revealing that Louisiana is the least regionally-diverse state in the nation. According to a 2012 statistical study performed by The New York Times, 79% of Louisiana residents were born locally in Louisiana, where they have maintained residency all their lives.
If possible, students should take advantage of the opportunity to attend college out of state, where they will be exposed to different ways of living. St. Paul’s School Religion IV teacher Roger Bacon, who attended Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Louisiana, seized this opportunity to temporarily migrate out of state while attending the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
“Attending college out of state opened new doors for me, and exposed me to new perspectives and different belief systems,” Bacon said. “While the school I attended was founded upon a Catholic character, going to school out of state allowed me to see the world in a different way.”
While attending college out of state, Bacon believes that students gain beneficial experience providing for themselves. Alone, away from home, students develop their own sense of independence and self-sufficiency.
“The greatest advantage to going to school out of state is that you are forced to become a part of the school community,” Bacon said. “New students that attend college out of state, away from home, family, and friends for the first time, are forced to make new friends and integrate themselves into their school community. Now, I have friends all over the country because I was forced out of my comfort zone and had to make new friends.”
When applying to colleges, students should not sell themselves short. Rather, according to Bacon, students should apply to several universities, regardless of location, applicant competition, or cost. Although applying to selective universities may be stressful and worrisome, Bacon suggests that students put their best foot forward and hope for the best.
“My advice is that students apply to a wide range of colleges, regardless of cost, both in state and out of state,” Bacon said. “There’s no downside to applying to universities that are expensive or competitive, so there’s no reason not to do so.”
After completing their particular college applications, students should narrow down their school choices based upon the offers provided by each particular university. According to Bacon, students should consider scholarships, financial aid opportunities, and their family’s current economic standing. Also, Bacon believes that students should avoid debt as much as possible, especially if the student is the sole individual responsible for repaying these accumulated debts. To help combat financial barriers, all students applying to college should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which awards monetary resources to those in need of collegiate financial aid.
According to recent statistics gathered by The Paper Wolf, nearly 70% of graduating Saint Paul’s School students have elected to continue their academic careers locally within Louisiana. However, many of this year’s seniors have yet to declare their own college choices. Those who venture out of state for college will most likely return to Louisiana, as Bacon did following his collegiate education. So, take advantage of this four-year opportunity to experience other cultures. Odds are, you’ll end up returning eventually. After all, no other state possesses as much culture as Louisiana. But isn’t it better when you have something to compare it to?