Why I chose a local college

Justin Verlinden
Justin Verlinden
March 4, 2022

Throughout the majority of my high school career, all the way up until the end of my junior year, I was dead set on leaving the Quad Cities behind and going as far away as possible for college. 

Five years later and I’m about to graduate from Augustana College, only six miles away from the house I grew up in. 

So what changed? Why, after being certain I would leave the Quad Cities, did I stay and go to Augie? Well, I found out that Augustana, and the Quad Cities, has a lot more to offer than I originally anticipated and hopefully, by the end of this, you’ll be able to see that too.


There’s this longstanding belief that private institutions (like Augustana) are too expensive for your average prospective college student. But that just isn’t true.

Yes, Augustana’s “sticker price” is higher than a lot of in-state schools and some out-of-state ones. But 99% of students get financial aid, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about that sticker price. In fact, the average Augustana student’s annual tuition rate is not that different than most state schools. 

Close to Home

As a local student, you can choose between living at home or on campus. You can’t go wrong with either choice but there are caveats to each.

The biggest perk about living at home is that you’ll be able to save even more money by not paying for room/board or a meal plan. Being able to live at home saved me lots of money, making Augustana by far the most affordable choice for me when I was looking at colleges.

If you do end up living on campus though, while you may have to pay more than living at home, Augustana’s room and board is still comparable to most other schools. You’ll also get more bang for your buck as Augustana’s dorm rooms, from my experience, are much more spacious than a lot of other dorms I’ve visited. 

Plus, your parents will still be around the area. While you still get to live on your own, if something major happens where you need their assistance, it’s convenient for them to be only a few minutes away.

New Appreciation for the QCA

You’ve probably lived in the Quad Cities, or around it, for a good portion of your life. You may even consider yourself to be a Quad Cities expert. I certainly thought I was. But in reality, your view may be filtered and Augustana can give you a glimpse of the Quad Cities you’ve never seen before.

When I first visited campus, I was blown away by the beauty I saw. From the gorgeous greenery of the lower quad, to the spirited aquatic wildlife found along the slough path, I was shocked (in a good way) by what I saw. I mean, who knew the Quad Cities had beauty like this?

But as it turns out, there’s beauty all over the Quad Cities. Through exploration with my cross country teammates on runs to simply going on adventures with my friends, I’ve visited parts of the Quad Cities I never knew existed. And I recognized that this place is unique, especially to kids who have lived in the suburbs their whole life.

Getting other students’ perspectives on the Quad Cities can be illuminating. Come to Augie, and you’ll be able to see that light.

Nationally Renowned

Finally, Augustana is a nationally renowned educational institution. There’s no need to travel far to get a good education. There’s one right here in your backyard.

Augustana has blessed me with incredible opportunities that a lot of other schools don’t. For instance, I was able to do a summer research internship at the BIGGEST medical complex in the entire world: the Texas Medical Center. In fact, every year about 15 Augie students are able to do research down there for the summer, allowing them to work alongside some of the world’s leading experts in their field.

But this just one example of what makes Augustana great, we've been ranked and recognized by some pretty important outlets. We’re one of the top 100 best liberal arts schools in the nation, we’re top 10 across ALL NCAA divisions in producing Academic All-Americans, and the Princeton Review labeled us the Best in the Midwest in 2019. 

In short, no matter what your major or career path is, Augustana will help you to be well equipped to achieve those goals. And with our great reputation, when employers or graduate schools see that you’re an Augie student, they know they’ll be getting someone good. 

Even though in high school I never thought I would stay in the Quad Cities for college, I’m beyond glad that I did. It’s allowed me to save money, learn to appreciate the Quad Cities even more, and help set me up for a successful and fulfilling life ahead. 

You can look all over the country to find the right school for you. But for me, and I hope you too, the place you were looking for was right in front of you all long. And that place was Augustana. 

Justin Verlinden
Justin Verlinden

Justin graduated in 2020, double majoring in biology and neuroscience with a minor in creative writing. He conducted research at Baylor College of Medicine, where he investigated the use of several brain imaging scans to detect early structural and functional differences in young mice with Alzheimer's, with the hope of eventually developing an early diagnostic tool for the disease. He currently is pursuing a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Kentucky.