Between Los Angeles and Chicago lay the US Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Named after the Rocky Mountains they encompass, this 2,216,426 square kilometers of land are often overshadowed by the East and West Coast when it comes to attracting tourists and international students alike.
Judge this area on the surface and its lack of publicity and you risk dismissing it as a potentially great study abroad destination. Here are the top reasons why you should consider applying to a university in these states:
1. Quality teaching
The region is home to some of the top higher education institutions in the country, many featured in the Forbes Top 25 Colleges In The West 2017. Colorado has three on the list: Colorado School of Mines, University of Denver and the US Air Force Academy.
Oregon’s top school is Reed College, ranked 13th in US News’ Best Undergraduate Teaching Programs at National Liberal Arts Colleges.
Utah’s best school is Mitt Romney’s alma mater, Brigham Young University, famed for being owned by the Mormon Church.
2. Lower tuition and living costs
When other states go high, the Mountain States go low in this metric.
In US News’ Best States for Higher Education, Utah leads the way by having the lowest debt for college graduates. Graduates here holds an average debt of under US$20,000, while New Hampshire has the highest at US$36,600.
Speaking to Study International, Christina Chong Tsen Yee, international student recruiter for Central Wyoming College, said the “lower tuition and fees rate including expenses” are some of the top reasons why international students should consider studying in the Mountain states.
“Unlike many colleges and universities in the US, Central Wyoming College’s tuition is extremely low since we are just a small city. Estimated costs for tuition, housing, meals, books and fees for one academic year are only US$15,996,” says Chong.
3. Lush landscapes
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but many eyes will collectively agree that the Rockies provide some of the most stunning backdrops you can expect from a campus.
The University of Montana’s campus in Missoula, set at the bottom of the 1,958-foot Mount Sentinel, was dubbed the “most scenic campus in America” by Rolling Stone magazine, while Salt Lake City publication, Deseret News, describes Brigham Young University and its carefully cultivated green surroundings as “the Disneyland of American colleges and universities”.
Western State Colorado University’s location in the heart of the Rockies naturally makes it the center of one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the US.
For international students, these lush and dramatic natural surroundings only add to an unforgettable study abroad experience.
4. Rich historical value
In states like Wyoming, spacious landscapes serve as backdrop to an area steeped in history. At the intersection of the Great Plains and Rockies lies many miles of mountain range, covering the state with numerous rivers, national parks and historic sites.
It also has strong ties to Native American spirituality. Evidence shows more than 12,000 years of prehistoric occupation in Wyoming by the Clovis, Folson and Eden Valley groups.
5. Low population density
The Mountain States have some of the lowest population densities in the US. Wyoming has the smallest population, with only slightly more than half a million residents as of July 1, 2015 (586,107) – just a fraction of California’s 39 million!
Studying abroad in urban versus rural areas will no doubt bring different experiences. While modern buildings and convenient subways are great additions, some of the great advantages of studying in rural areas are the stunning natural surroundings, biodiversity, lack of pollution, lower crime rate and a general serenity that’s hard to find on busy city streets.
For international students, this could foster a closer sense of community with the locals, also helping them make friends within and outside of campus.