‘Get out of Omaha’ epidemic impacts college decisions


Editorial cartoon by ReaganRosenbaum. “The ongoing stigma and skepticism regarding college decisions forces people into feeling the need to justify their college decision.” 

“Oh, well, good for you.”
Skepticism, criticism, not knowing how to respond. This is a typical response high school seniors often hear when they announce that they are staying in-state for college. For Marian students, these in-state schools include the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Creighton University. 

In recent times, there has been a heavy stigma surrounding where students choose to attend college. It feels like no matter where you pick, someone will question you. If you choose to move hours away from home, you are taking too big of a risk. 

But if you choose to stay in town or in state, you are not getting a full college experience. 

College decisions are stressful enough as it is, with a
never-ending list of factors to consider and deadlines to meet. People constantly questioning and being skeptical of you makes it all the more stressful. This raises the question: What’s so bad about Omaha?

From a young age, kids are often taught that Omaha is not that great of a city and that there are far better places to live. After all, we don’t have any big theme parks or beaches or A-list celebrities. Regardless of all of this, there is an importance in being able to appreciate the town you grew up in. 

Being able to get home quickly for holidays or emergencies, having the comfort of knowing your way around the city you are in, cheaper in-state tuition and knowing more people are pull factors that tend to keep people in Omaha or Nebraska for college. 

On the other hand, many people feel the need to leave Omaha. According to data kept by the Network staff, 50% of the Class of 2020 left Nebraska for college, 49% of the Class of 2021 left the state and 56% of the Class of 2022 left. They might have thought of college as an opportunity to escape from their previous life. They might have worried that if they didn’t take the opportunity, they would never get out and would be stuck here forever.

It’s a valid concern. There are so many other places in our country and our world that provide endless opportunities and new experiences than what you might get in Omaha. We hold firm in our beliefs that we have to leave what we know in order to grow and become more independent. 

But there is a certain comfort that we have in high school that can make it extremely difficult to leave. While Marian provides us with challenging academics and a supportive environment, it also gives us a sort of bubble of comfort because we know everyone around us. College is the time when we must break that bubble, whether we like it or not. 

We have to learn how to be independent, adapt to changes around us, handle responsibilities, ‘adult’ and often force ourselves to survive. But no one ever said that had to take place in a certain city or state. 

The ongoing stigma and skepticism regarding college decisions forces people into feeling the need to justify their college decision. As if other people have any say in where we decide to create our futures. We need to work to destigmatize the location aspect of college and not make people feel bad about their choices. 

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong location to attend college. Different people want different things, and different people need different things. 

There is value in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and moving away from everything and everyone you know. But there is also value in deciding to stay close to everything and everyone you love right here in Omaha. 

Your problems won’t magically disappear when you move to another state, and you will probably still miss your family even if you go 15 minutes away. But ultimately, you will get out what you put in and you have to make the decision that is best for you. 

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