Today’s Tuesday with Tulsa blog post is by Weston K., a sophomore from Pennsylvania who won the Tom Russell scholarship in Chemical Engineering ( which is awarded to the top freshman in the program each year).
I was Weston’s admission counselor two years ago and I remember he applied to a lot of colleges before deciding on TU. I asked him if he would be interested in writing a post about how he made the decision to attend a university over 1,000 miles away from home. Here’s his post…
Why would you go to school in Oklahoma?! I heard this question over and over when I made my college decision, during my graduation party, and even every once in a while here at TU. My name is Weston K. and I am a sophomore Chemical Engineering major from Northwest Pennsylvania. Here are a few reasons why I made the decision to come to TU and why I haven’t looked back since.
First, I took a good look around. I applied to more schools and went on more college visits (about eleven or so of each) than most of my classmates who were so quick to question my reasoning of going to school so far away. There are over 5,000 colleges in the US, most of them not within 100 miles of where you live, so statistically your dream school may not be within 100 miles of your home. Even if distance is a factor for you, which it was for me, you still owe it to yourself and to the huge investment you’re about to make to explore your options. I encourage you to look into as many schools as possible – even those far away from home. You never know if a school will accept you or what their financial offer will be.
Secondly, TU is very unique and was different from the other colleges on my list. It has been my experience that TU has all the opportunities of a big school (well funded research, a multitude of rewarding extra-curricular activities, division I sports, etc.) with a relatively small student body. This allows you to get involved and stand out. After just a year and a half at TU, I am president of TU Treks (an outdoor adventure club), president of the Residence Hall Association, pursuing my third semester of undergraduate research in bioengineering, ending my second year as a percussionist in the marching band, and planning to lead a third university-sponsored Engineers Without Borders trip. These kinds of opportunities are just not available to underclassmen at big universities.
The last major factor for me was cost. Although many public universities start with much lower tuition rates, TU is very competitive once you consider their scholarship offer. For example, TU was several thousand dollars cheaper than my local state school for me, even including all travel costs. TU has allowed me to get a great education while participating in cutting-edge research for less than half of what I would have paid at two other very selective private universities where I was accepted.
Finally, I’ll include a quick note about adjusting to life in a totally different part of the country. College is a big change wherever you go, so it is likely that you will miss some of your friends and family especially if you go to school far away. But I can honestly say that I made so many new friends so quickly that I did not get homesick. In fact, it is likely that you will be less homesick if you are not tempted to go back home every other weekend. For example, I immediately found a great friend group in the marching band. We grew very close and continue to plan events together, like the upcoming 2nd annual Secret Santa gift exchange.
On a personal note, I found a great Christian community at TU. If this isn’t your thing you certainly don’t have to participate, but if it is, then rest assured that TU has many great campus ministries. If you are wondering about travel arrangements, I will admit that flying across the country for every break can be a bit of a pain, but Tulsa’s airport is pretty close to campus. I was able to bring nearly everything I needed to move in (Southwest Airlines gives you two free 50 lb bags – definitely useful!) Once you’re here you can store your things over the summer in a storage facility.
I hope you found this blog post useful- I had a lot to talk about when it came to my college choice. Thanks for the opportunity and a very merry Christmas to you and yours!