Giving truth to Memphis youth
If you’re a high school student in the Memphis area you have likely heard of our state flagship university (University of Tennessee), as well as the state flagship universities of the other eight surrounding states (University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, University of Mississippi also known as Ole Miss, University of Missouri aka Mizzou, University of North Carolina and University of Virginia.). However each of those states contain many other colleges and universities worth your consideration.
If you would like to stay within driving distance but still leave the city for college, we rounded up a few colleges in each of the bordering states (plus one in Illinois) that you might want to research further.
Alabama State University. This historically black college (HBCU) is located in the second largest city in the state in Montgomery, Alabama. The school has about 12,000 students, a three-year-old, 26,500 seat football stadium and a $25 million, three-year-old student center that includes a movie theatre, bookstore, food court, game room, ballroom and lounge area. Tuition is approximately $15,000 a year for out-of-state students. The school offers a number of academic, non-academic and athletic scholarships. Alabama State offers over 50 majors at the undergraduate level and at the graduate level the school offers a PhD in microbiology, among other degrees. For more information on Alabama State, visit alasu.edu.
University of Central Arkansas. About 135 miles away from Memphis and 25 miles north of Little Rock, Arkansas is the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Students residing in university housing can qualify for in-state tuition of $197 per credit hour, as well as full-time students receiving a full tuition scholarship. As part of student housing, UCA has five co-educational living and learning communities. These students are enrolled in the same cluster of classes to promote collaborative learning and live side-by-side with UCA faculty and mentoring students. There is even a commuter learning community. To learn more about UCA visit uca.edu.
Arkansas State University. About 60 miles away from Memphis, in Jonesboro, Arkansas lies Arkansas State University on the hills of Crowley’s Ridge. A-State is home to 13,000 students. Out-of-state tuition costs approximately $14,000 per academic year. Unique minors the school offers include folklore studies, medieval studies, marine science, modern European studies, crop consulting and agronomic services and agricultural mechanics. At the graduate level the college offers PhDs in heritage studies, environmental science and molecular biosciences. To learn more about A-State, visit astate.edu.
Agnes Scott College. Located on 100 acres in the Atlanta area (Decatur), Agnes Scott is a liberal arts college for women. Tuition is $36,000 (not including other costs), but the college offers several sizeable scholarships for accepted students. Through cross registration students at Agnes Scott (or any other Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education institution) can take courses at any other member institution. ARCHE schools include Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Mercer University-Atlanta, Morehouse College, Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta, Spelman College and the University of Georgia. Learn more about Agnes Scott at agnesscott.edu.
Mercer University. Only an hour away from Atlanta, Macon’s Mercer University was named the “Number One Best Value in the South” by U.S. News and World Report in 2014. The school has almost 3,000 undergraduates, in addition to a law school and medical school. The Princeton Review consistently names the school within the top 15 percent of universities in the country. Mercer has combined undergraduate/graduate programs allowing students to earn both degrees in five years, such as Bachelor of Science in Engineering plus Master of Science in Engineering, Bachelor of Business Administration plus Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration plus Master of Accountancy. The school also offers an accelerated law degree program in which a student completes three years of undergraduate study in the Mercer School of Liberal Arts. The student then begins his or her first year of law school, using law classes to fulfill the remaining elective undergraduate credits to earn his or her bachelor’s degree. Learn more about Mercer at mercer.edu.
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Although Illinois does not border Tennessee, the distance between Carbondale, Illinois and Memphis is actually less than the distance between Memphis and Nashville. SIUC offers tuition close to the in-state rate for incoming freshman, transfer and graduate students from Tennessee. Legacy students only pay 80 percent of their tuition rate for four years. The school touts diversity, student research and service. In 2013 the college reported that 237,000 residents of central and southern Illinois benefited from its 578 initiatives with more than 3,000 community partners. SIUC is one of very few colleges that offers a degree in metalsmithing/blacksmithing (both at the undergraduate and graduate level). For more information on the college, visit siu.edu/.
Berea College. The South’s first interracial and co-educational college, Berea grants four-year scholarships to all of its students who otherwise would not be able to afford to obtain a liberal arts degree. All degree-seeking students are required to work 10-15 hours a week while they attend. The work study program provides a small salary to help with living expenses. The average Berea student graduates with $6,600 in student loans compared to the national average of $29,400 and one third of Berea students graduates debt-free. Over half of students at the Berea, Kentucky college end up studying abroad. More information on Berea can be found at berea.edu.
Murray State University. At less than 140 miles away, Murray State University gives an opportunity for Memphis-area students to leave the state yet remain relatively close to home. Full-time Murray State undergraduates who are from the state of Tennessee and pay for university housing are eligible for a regional tuition discount that makes tuition very close to the in-state rate ($335 per undergraduate hour versus $317). Over 11,000 students attend the college in Murray, Kentucky. With Fort Campbell nearby, Murray State is known for being friendly to students who are also in the military. Find more information at murraystate.edu.
Mississippi University for Women. Founded in 1884 as the nation’s first state-supported college for women, Mississippi University for Women has actually been co-educational since 1982. The current ratio is seven female students to every male student. MUW provides out-of-state tuition waivers for students living in Tennessee and other contiguous states. Located in Columbus, Mississippi, the college offers one of the lowest tuition among public universities in the Southeast. Besides reasonably priced tuition, the college also boasts at 14:1 student faculty ratio. For more information, visit muw.edu.
Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO). Located just 152 miles away from Memphis, SEMO is located in Cape Girardeau in the boot heel of Missouri. Minutes away from the central campus is the school’s River Campus. The River Campus, home to the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts (art, music, dance, theatre departments), is composed of art classrooms, studios and performance spaces. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the River Campus hosts free concerts, exhibitions, workshops, festivals, lectures and performance art productions. For more information, visit semo.edu.
Bennett College. This small Greensboro, North Carolina college is one of only two in the country that is both an HBCU and a college for women. (The other being Spelman College in Atlanta.) Sixty five percent of the college’s students are from out of state. Bennett College has dual degree programs with North Carolina A&T State University (the largest HBCU in the nation at 10,000 students) in chemistry/chemical engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Bennett has a collaborative degree program in nursing with Howard University (located in Washington, D.C.). Unique majors at the school include womanist religious studies and Africana women’s studies. Find more information about Bennett at bennett.edu.
Warren Wilson College. Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Warren Wilson is another of the seven federally recognized “work colleges.” The school emphasizes its triad of work, service and academics. All students participate in the work program of 15 hours per week and earn nearly $4,000 toward the cost of tuition each academic year. Warren Wilson is known for international and environmental programs, with Outside Magazine calling it “one of the most earth-friendly colleges on the planet.” Besides the undergraduate program, Warren Wilson has the top-ranked low residency (i.e. completed from a distance) Master of Fine Arts program in writing in the country. For more information visit warren-wilson.edu.
Hollins University. Located in Roanoke, Virginia, Hollins is a small college for women known for its strong creative writing programs. Instead of the typical academic calendar Hollins uses a 4-1-4 calendar. In this system there are two four-month semesters and a shorter (one month) semester in January of each year. During the shorter term students earn internships, take advantage of study abroad programs, or focus on a single course or project. The average class size is 11 students and the student faculty ratio is 8:1. Forty percent of Hollins students study abroad. More than 10 universities are within an one hour drive of Hollins and Hollins coordinates social activities with the closest colleges. The graduate school is co-educational, with about 120 men and women as students. (There are 550 undergraduate students.) Another big part of Hollins University? Equestrian sports. Tuition is $35,000 a year not including room and board (meals are included in room and board). The college awards $20 million annually in aid and scholarships and all students who visit campus before May 1 of their senior year and enroll will receive a one-time, $500 visit scholarship. Learn more about Hollins at hollins.edu.
The college selection process can be exhausting with so many tasks and so much information. Take a little time to look beyond the obvious when selecting where you’ll spend the next leg of your life’s journey.