Stigma around state colleges should be antiquated, students should keep an open mind


Cady Armstrong

When I told my friends that I wanted to go to Indiana University (IU) or Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) next year for college, a lot of them didn’t understand why. Many of my classmates have considered IU to be their “backup” or “safety” school with the notion that they would be settling if they went there. With this comes the stigma of public state schools like IU being less distinguished or many passing judgment on those going there. However, the preconceived notion of state colleges being “less than” is outdated and everyone should instead keep an open mind about all higher education pathways.

Many people believe they have to attend a prestigious or private university to get a high quality education, but that is not true. State colleges offer amazing programs. In fact, at IU, there are over 80 majors and 90 minors to choose from. Additionally, 93% of IU’s class of 2018 reported being employed in their field of study or continuing their education at a graduate level within 6 months of graduating. From this, it is established that one can obtain a good education and be successful attending a state college.

Additionally, state colleges often offer the same quality of education at private schools at a much lower cost. At Dartmouth College, which has a similar employment rate as IU, the cost of attendance for the 2020-2021 was $79,525 whereas the cost of attendance at IU was $27,201. While Dartmouth’s employment rate is 97% compared to IU’s 93%, $50,000 per year seems a steep price to pay for such a small difference.

Moreover, much of the stigma surrounding state colleges comes from the well-known stereotypes portrayed in the mass media of partying and the large student body. However, as many other things, there is more to college than what is most often portrayed.

With the state college’s often large student body, there are more opportunities and different social scenes for one to try out. Additionally, there are also more people and therefore more chances to meet those you would like. One’s college experience is determined by the individual. To this end, I encourage you to take charge of your own college experience, approaching state colleges with an open mind and heart.

This is also not to say that students shouldn’t consider attending prestigious, name brand colleges for their higher education. Certainly, these institutions are well-respected because of the value in their degrees. At these colleges, you will almost definitely get a great education. However, at its core, a degree is a degree and you can get a great education at most colleges. Don’t discount the value and prestige or colleges right here in our own backyard. In the end, just remember that as our classmates make their college decisions in the next couple of months to think twice before judging them for whatever and wherever they plan to do and go after May 26.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Cady Armstrong at [email protected]

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