Op-Ed: Why Everyone Should Apply To a Local College

Courtesy+of+The+University+of+Hawaii

Courtesy of The University of Hawaii

When I first started discussing with my mom where I might apply to college in Feb 2020, she immediately said, “You’re applying to UH, right?” At the time it hadn’t even crossed my mind to include UH to my list.  “Why would I do that?” 

“You never know what might happen,” she responded. I complied only because I didn’t want to argue, but now her words make so much sense. Everyone should follow her advice. No matter what year it is, or the current state of the world—apply to a local college, you never know how things may change. 

Like everyone else alive before March of 2020, I didn’t see this pandemic coming. I was ready for my extended spring break, to see my friends, and go to the beach. However, as we all know, things rapidly evolved, forcing me into my house for months of online school and quarantine. If I was in the class of 2020 and hadn’t applied to UH, I would have been stuck paying more than double the price for what is being called “Zoom University.”

Not everyone agrees with me, though. Krystal Jiang ‘21, opposes the idea of applying to a local school. “I’m not applying to UH because I want to have the “college experience” and not see my parents, who are UH faculty, around campus. My parents paid so much for a Punahou education for the last 7 years and I have a great platform that I want to use to strive farther.”

The argument of wanting to get away from the familiar and be immersed in a new environment is valid, but at what cost? 

Many universities have continued to charge a full tuition through distance learning. Some argue it is to upkeep campus centers and adapt to online learning. Others argue the value of the degree stays the same, so students should be charged the same amount. 

However, what is unarguable is that the value of education becomes diluted when we are stripped of the ability to network, join clubs, go to athletic events, and have a normal college experience. Being stuck in a dorm, or sometimes at home in a different state, cannot compare to being in a classroom, lab, or in-person discussion. 

Students like Ellysse Sanidad ‘21 argue that it is not worth the price. “I don’t think it’s worth it at all to do online school if you’re paying out of state. You can get a similar education from UH for a significantly less amount. Regarding finances, UH would be the cheapest option and it takes a lot of stress off students because if you’re going out of state, you might have a lot of student debt. A lot of expensive schools are only attended for the name, but for the price I think it’s more worth it to just stay here.” 

What I think a lot of students are not considering is that there is also a greater risk of catching the virus by leaving the state. Our Hawai’i numbers may be plateauing, but many other states are still climbing and even peaking. While college-age students are less likely to suffer serious consequences, the unknown long-term effects are still a cause for concern.

Another overlooked con of attending school online at an out of state school is the time difference. Your classes will operate according to their corresponding time zone, and many universities will require you to attend class or take tests at the same time, no matter the time difference. A midterm at 8 am EDT could be a 2 AM midterm for students in Hawai’i. 

“Because of COVID, we don’t know what it’s gonna be like around the time we start college next year. If the circumstances are the same as they are now, paying out of state tuition for a college experience that is less than it should be but for the same price is not worth it,” concluded Sanidad. 

Applying to a school does not mean you will attend it. This reality could last for several more years, and it’s important to be prepared for anything. Apply to your local college!