By Wesley Gilbride, Staff Writer
Seniors are dispersing far and wide across the country for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year. From Hawaii, to Michigan, to Texas, to New York, many Summit graduates are saying goodbye to small Bend, Oregon. In fact, 43 Summit seniors are headed away from the west half of the country for college, whereas only 23 students went outside of the west in 2020.
Whether it’s following family, getting out of a comfort zone, outgrowing Bend, or looking for a place to settle down one day, it’s undeniable that the graduating class of 2021 is ready to spread their wings and experience the next chapter of their lives.
If the class of 2021 was asked a year ago or pre-pandemic what their plans were, many would have never imagined themselves moving far away from home.
“I originally saw myself going to school on the West coast, however during the pandemic I had more time to devote to the application process and I decided to apply to schools that I had never visited,” said Jack Strang, who will be attending Boston College in the fall.
A lot can change over the course of a year, “I had no clue where I was gonna end up, I applied to a college in every region of the country…in the end I narrowed it down to where I could actually picture myself,” said Whitney West, University of Wisconsin admit.
For some, the location is the most important factor when choosing an institute to pay thousands of dollars for a higher education.
“[Location] is definitely something that majorly impacted my decision, because as much as you’re going to the school for the education, I think that you acclimate to the location that it’s in, and that’s probably where you’re going to eventually settle down,” said Logan O’Neil, attending University of Miami in the fall.
Choosing a college is a huge decision, and the location of the school can lead to a career in the same region of the country. Moving far away allows seniors the freedom and chance to experience something new. Many have lived in the bubble of Bend for the majority of their lives and want to escape their comfort zone.
“I truly wanted a new environment and to experience something very different from Bend. I’m so excited to meet many new friends, live away from home and experience that freedom,” said Bridget Lockrem, who will attend Texas Christian University in the fall.
At the ripe age of 18, it’s time for many to enter a new chapter of their lives that Bend can no longer offer. A new region, city, or state creates numerous opportunities for those who are choosing to leave the west coast.
“I feel like I’ve used up all the opportunities that I have in Bend so looking somewhere that is further away is exciting because I’ll have more flexibility and more opportunities that I wouldn’t have had here,” O’Neil said.
Wherever the seniors are planning for next year; college, a job, studying abroad, or staying local, everyone has a bright future. As the 2021 graduates follow their next paths of life, Summit is sad to see them go but excited to watch their progress.