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The Pros and Cons of Attending College Close vs Far From Home
Finalizing your college list, a working list of the colleges to which you intend to apply, can be a long and involved process. You’ll need to balance a number of different priorities and values as you narrow down the 7,000 undergraduate institutes in the United States to a mere ten or so that you’d like to attend. It takes a lot of introspection and insight from those you trust before you can arrive at a balanced and effective list.
The factors that you weigh as you choose the schools you’re interested in will depend in large part on your personal priorities. For example, some students know they want to attend a small college in a big city. Other students might prefer a school close to the ocean or one known for its engineering program. All of these preferences will combine to help create your college list.
As you consider the preferences that will mold your college list, you’ll need to think carefully about each and how important it is to you overall. Not only that, but you’ll also have to predict how important each will be for you in the long run. Sometimes a preference might seem initially important to you, but could become less so over time.
One major consideration for many students is how far away from home they are willing to go for college. Some students know right away that staying close to home is not a top priority, while others recognize that they will have difficulty relocating any significant distance. And some students know that going far away will be initially difficult, but they will be be able to adjust over time, if the school is the right fit.
In this post, we’ll discuss going to college close to home versus going to college far away. We’ll outline some of the common pros and cons of each decision to help frame your thinking as you make this important choice about your future. To learn more about the benefits and disadvantages of going to college close to home or going to college far away, keep reading.
Benefits of Staying Close to Home
There are many benefits that come to mind immediately when you think about staying close to home as you begin your college career. One of the most obvious is the minimization of potential homesickness. College can include a period of adjustment for any student, and going through those changes far from home can make you homesick. If you stick close to home, you’ll likely have lots of support from your family and even friends while you tackle the next chapter of your life.
You’ll also have access to familiar resources. You may already know the town or area well, so you’ll have an easier time learning where to find groceries, a pharmacy, restaurants, and any other off-campus amenities. You’ll also usually be able to continue to see the same doctor and dentist, use the same bank, and not change your voter registration or deal with absentee ballots. Many logistics will be simplified.
In addition, going to college in close proximity to your parents often means access to other types of resources. You may have the option of visiting anytime you need a break from campus. A home-cooked meal and a free laundry room are only a drive away. Some students going to college close to their parents’ home even continue to live at home in order to save costs on room and board.
Your proximity will also ensure more continuity in your life. You might be able to keep your job from high school. You might have friends who are also staying local, meaning that your social circle can remain intact. You may even continue to participate in the same activities, like a club soccer team, church, or volunteer group.
Finally, going to school close to where you grew up often means that your parents and support network are almost immediately available to you should there be an emergency. At the same time, you would be able to make it home quickly if anyone there needed your immediate help. Indeed, there are many benefits of going to college close to home.
Drawbacks of Going to College Close to Home
Sometimes, though, staying close to home for college is not all it’s cracked up to be.
For one, living nearby means that your parents will be able to visit frequently and will likely expect you to do the same, which may potentially be a hindrance as you develop greater independence.
You’ll also want to think about the lack of anonymity you’ll have if you go to college close to home. It may not be uncommon for you to run into acquaintances, family friends, high school teachers, or classmates. You may even end up spending most of your time with your family or high school friends. While this is comforting to some, to others it might seem a bit suffocating. Think about how much of a fresh start you are after before choosing to attend college close to home.
Finally, by staying close to home you sometimes sacrifice the opportunity to experience something different for four years. It may not seem like it now, but four years is ultimately not a huge time commitment in your life. The opportunity to experience a different setting or more diverse surroundings for a finite period of time does not surface often in life. If you know you’ve always wanted to try living in the city, the mountains, or just someplace else, this could be a good time to try it.
While there are certainly many benefits to attending a college close by, there are also some disadvantages. You should consider both sides before making a decision.
Benefits of Going to College Far Away
Going to college far away from your home is also an option that presents a number of unique benefits.
For one, by going someplace new on your own, you will inevitably gain more independence. It will be up to you to handle the small logistics you might be used to your parents managing on your behalf. For example, if you get a parking ticket or need to pick up a prescription, those responsibilities will fall squarely on your own shoulders.
You’ll need to find your own way around a new region, locating the resources that you’ll need along the way, but as you do so you will grow in ways that you might not have otherwise. You will take on adult responsibilities and experience what may be your first real-world independence. You will make your own decisions and hold yourself accountable for them.
Another benefit of going to college far from home is the opportunity to experience living in a new region. You might be exposed to new cultures and lifestyles. You might get to experience life in a big city or a rural town for the first time. You’ll get a chance to broaden your horizon. If you’ve always wanted to live in New York City or Southern California or the Rockies, this may be the time to make it happen.
Finally, if you go to college far away, you will get a fresh start. Many students want the chance to reinvent themselves after high school, and when you go to college far away, you can create your new life from scratch. None of your high school mistakes or expectations will follow you. You can pursue new friendships, new activities, and a new lifestyle without the shadow of your high school self following along. For many students, this is a refreshing way to turn over a new leaf.
Drawbacks of Going to College Far Away
Of course, attending college far away is not without its disadvantages. For one, you may experience homesickness when you leave everything you’ve known at home to start anew again. It may take you a while to adjust to your new life or you might not find a new group of friends right away. While this adjustment period is normal, it sometimes takes longer than others and you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to put up with it for however long it lasts.
You will also have to accept that you’ll be missing out on milestones at home. If you’re used to attending your younger brother’s baseball games or your grandmother’s piano concerts, these are more than likely things that you’ll have to miss out on now that you’re far away. There may even be holidays or family events that you can’t attend.
Another potential drawback is the cost of moving far away. You will need to pay for travel to and from your college each time you go, and for some students this means that going home for the holidays is not in the budget. You’ll also need to consider the shipping costs to send your belongings to your new college. If you can’t ship them, there will be things you’ll need to buy when you arrive. Overall, going to school far away tends to involve more logistical costs than staying close to home.
Finally, if there is an emergency and you are attending a college that is far from home, it will take longer to be reunited with your family. If you have to travel home unexpectedly, the costs may be exorbitant. If you have a medical emergency, you will have to cope with it independently until a family member can arrive, if they are able to afford the travel costs.
Distance from home is often a central factor weighed into college-list creation. Some students immediately know their comfort level for being away, and others aren’t quite so sure. In any case, there is nearly always a period of adjustment that occurs when you begin college, whether you do so close to home or on the other side of the country. Discuss your choices with your family and hear their perspective on the issue, too. Some families might even offer to help with travel costs or logistics.
If you’re a high school junior or senior who is beginning the process of creating a college list, but you aren’t sure where to begin or need some help narrowing it down, consider checking out CollegeVine’s Applications Guidance service. Here, you’ll be paired with a personal admissions specialist who can provide step-by-step guidance through the entire college application process, including how to best highlight your unique skills and activities.
For more information about choosing your college, check out these CollegeVine posts:
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