How to Prepare for Going Out-of-State to Graduate School

by Colin McGinnis, McNair Graduate Assistant

“Man, it would be nice to get out of here and go somewhere new.” It’s a thought many, if not all, of us have probably thought while watching movies, reading a novel or just simply talking to friends and family about college.

When beginning the application process for Graduate School, you’re given the unique opportunity to relocate to a different part of the country. Since I’ve gone out-of-state for both undergraduate and graduate school, I’ve put together a list of points to consider (and get excited about) when applying to programs outside of Nebraska.

Cost of Relocation
Cost is one of the factors I didn’t properly account for with my move out-of-state. Every time I passed a U-Haul location, I’d think “$20 isn’t bad!; I’ll just rent a truck and move all my stuff to Nebraska.” I was misinformed. Sure, a U-Haul is an affordable option for in-town moves, but once you cross state lines, the rental fee can easily approach the thousands. What I did instead was sell my furniture in Ohio and (slowly) bought new items here in Lincoln. At first, I was a little upset by this, but thinking back on my decision I’m happy with it. I was able to purge items I’d honestly never use again and start my new life as a graduate student fresh.

If you’re a little more attached to your items than I was, you should start planning your move now. Save a little bit each week so the cost of moving across the country isn’t so shocking. You should also talk to friends and family to see if they have any unique ideas for the move (for example my uncle offered to load all my furniture into a produce delivery truck that was going to Omaha from his company! If I hadn’t already sold most of my pieces at that point, I probably would have accepted the offer).

Here are a few things to consider when relocating:

  1. What do you really need to take with you and what can you get rid of?
  2. Where are you going to get boxes to store your stuff? You’ll be surprised at how many you need, here is the tool I used to help calculate ( Once you know how many boxes you need, call your local grocery store, Target or Walmart! Often if you call ahead, they’ll have boxes for you.
  3. If you’re driving, where are you going to sleep along the way? A tip to consider: Motels are cheaper in smaller, rural towns. Take a day to plan out your stops; it will save you money later on!

Emotional Considerations
Even the least emotional student may find moving to a new part of the country an emotional rollercoaster. Even if you make it through moving day without a tear in your eye, you may be feeling the pain in the following months.

Being separated from all you know and are comfortable with can be emotionally tough. The things you take for granted now, like being able to congratulate a friend on a new internship or seeing your parents twice a month, won’t be such a common experience if moving more than a few hours out-of-state. It’s even harder when family emergencies come up, and you have to make arrangements to get back home. It took me some time, but I’ve come to peace with the idea this is not a reason not to go out-of-state. Instead, see all the positives in your distance from friends and family. I treasure the time I have with my friends back home more now than I ever did, I get to be the “cool vacation spot” for my family, and I’ve found myself talking to my mom and dad a lot more than I did before. As they say, “distance makes the heart grow fonder.”

Building Your Network
Being in a new place is exciting because everything is new! Take advantage of your new surroundings and learn about the culture of your new home once you move. Try local restaurants, go to local concerts, explore parks and festivals. For me, Nebraska has quickly turned from a bland state full of corn to a cool, hidden Midwestern gem packed with art and food.

You should also make an effort to be at locations and events where you’ll meet other students. Look into events organized by your new institution’s Office of Graduate Studies and department. Look up graduate student organizations (e.g., Latino/a Graduate Student Association, Black Graduate Student Association, etc.) and get involved in their programming. Work out at the campus rec center. Go to lectures and seminars both in and out of your discipline. Some of my closest friends are those whom I met as a graduate student!

For many, moving out-of-state takes a toll on wallets and emotions. However, by properly preparing for your move, an out-of-state graduate school experience is immensely rewarding. By moving to a different state for graduate school, you’re offered a unique perspective into how other parts of the country think and operate– which is immensely beneficial as a scholar.


Explore posts in the same categories: Graduate School

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