With the economy starting a slow upturn since the Great Recession of 2009, more students are foregoing their plans of moving away for college. According to NBC, state colleges and universities, battered by declining endowments and reduced state funding, are facing a new and potentially far more troubling financial challenge. Most students believe that remaining in-state is the better option for their pockets. Others are taking the risk. Britney Gustin, a junior criminal justice major from Dallas, Texas, enjoys the adventure.
“I chose Southeastern because my boyfriend was awarded a full scholarship to play football,” said Gustin. She is in the minority of the 95 students who go to Southeastern from Texas. Out of Southeastern’s 15,000 students, 14,000 are from Louisiana, not surprisingly. This data is readily accessible from the university’s webpage.
Students who move face an enormous emotional adjustment. Aside from moving away from everything they’ve ever known, they have to adjust to a whole new culture. They have to adjust to unfamiliar living situations, like roommates and added adult responsibility. For many, this is the first time they are in charge of their own lives, without the mounting pressure from parents or teachers.
Homesickness is an obvious emotional factor for an out-of-state student. Gustin deals with it by making friends who turn into family.
College is the most stressful time in a person’s life; it’s the time when they learn who they really are. While working full-time and going to school full-time, Gustin is caught in a constant balancing act. The only extracurricular activity she’s involved with is watching her boyfriend play football. “I’m really honored that Britney would move here to support me in my goals. She’s really special to me,” her boyfriend Jeff Smiley said.
Many students begin college at a two year institution then transfer to a four year university, and Gustin was no different. She received her associate’s degree from North Central Texas College then found her way to Hammond. To be a successful transfer student, Gustin believes organization is key.
Starting at a two year college can buy time for those who are still unsure about up and moving to a college away from home. Most students familiarize themselves with the state’s largest city. Southeastern students are lucky because Hammond is nestled between two metropolitans, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It’s a marriage between small town charm and big city hustle and bustle.Gustin feels Hammond is the perfect adjustment since she hails from a big city.
Distinguished professors attract students to universities. Southeastern proudly boasts 11 renowned tenured faculty members. They range from the president, Dr. John Crain, to scientists and philosophers. Gustin believes that they all have her best interests at heart. “If I ever need help, I can attend their office hours or shoot them an email. I’m not just a face in the crowd, I really feel like I matter here. That’s something I’m used to coming from a small community college,” said Gustin.
After her graduation, Gustin plans to return to Dallas and attend law school.