Choosing which college to attend is an important and often challenging decision that High School students face. A myriad of factors come into play from financial need and offered majors to extra-curricular activities and job placement. Another factor to be considered is location and how far away from home the school is. As high school students prepare to enter the next chapter of their lives, they tend to internally assess their level of independence and degree of comfort being away from home. Upon this internal assessment, individuals find that their personal background, experiences and personality influence have a big impact on their college decision. If you find that you are unsure whether attending college far from home would be the right move for you, consider these pros and cons.
First-time college students highly value their independence. For those who come out of High School and want to truly be on their own, choosing to move far away from college can be the perfect opportunity to do so. Of course, going off to college and moving out of your parents’ house comes with a certain degree of independence no matter how far you travel. However, you gain more independence the further you are from home because you have less of an option to return or receive help from your parents. If you feel that you are at a point in your life where you are ready to fly solo and don’t expect to return home very often, then going to school further away may give you the level of independence you are looking for.
The further you are from home, the more cultural and environmental differences you will see on a daily basis. For example, if you live in Montana and decide to go to school in New York, you will likely be exposed to a variety of new people and places. On the other hand, if you’re from a big city and go to a smaller school in quiet town, you will experience a different type of culture than you are used to. For students who want to get out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in a new environment, attending college far from home is a great opportunity to try new things and meet new people.
Especially for those who spent the majority of their childhood and teen years in one place, taking the opportunity to distance themselves during college can actually change their whole world view. Being exposed to the same type of people, places and experiences can begin to feel mundane after a while. For some, college is the time in their lives where they need a fresh start and new outlook on the world. Moving to a place where you don’t know anybody can be refreshing and satisfying for students who want to start over and clear their minds as they start the next chapter of their life.
Not everyone is cut out for traveling or being away from home for a long period of time, and that’s perfectly fine! There seems to be a pressure on young people today to travel the world and see everything possible, but some people simply don’t like to travel and would rather stay where they are comfortable. If you are going off to college and find that you have anxiety about leaving your parents or hometown, then attending a school close to home may be a better option for you. As someone with a younger brother still in High School, I personally chose to attend college at a University an hour away from my hometown because I wanted to be able to watch him play sports and attend his activities. Being really close to my family growing up certainly influenced my decision to stay in the area and I’m glad I did because I did end up getting homesick during my freshman year but was able to go home when I absolutely needed to. If you love where you live now and the environment that you’re in, then taking the plunge to move far away may cause you more pain than pleasure. Don’t feel pressured to attend a school just because it’s in a cool, new place. No matter what, you will still meet new people and learn new things even if you stay where you are comfortable.
People react differently to new environments; some love the change in scenery and routine while others may feel lost, confused and generally uncomfortable. A common reason people have difficulty adjusting is because they feel like they don’t belong and find it challenging to meet new people. Some schools may be easier to adjust to than others depending on the resources they provide and the size of the school itself. If you think you may have difficulty making new friends or if you can’t see yourself living in a vastly different culture or environment, then making a big move to a different place may not be your best option. However, keep in mind that not all schools that are located in a certain geographical area are the same. Each institution has its own unique culture and feel; do some research on a school before you count it out. You may be able to envision yourself fitting in better at a school across the country than at one in your own backyard.
While we certainly don’t guarantee or hope that one will find themselves in an emergency situation while they are at school, it does happen. Whether it be an illness, accident or crisis, it is certainly nice to be close to home when these things occur either to you or someone you’re close with. Especially if you or a family member has a medical condition, being far away from home can cause uneasiness or anxiety. However, try not to let fear and uncertainty hold you back from going to a school further away. Just be aware that it could be a potential downside should an emergency occur.
Still unsure whether you want to attend college far from home? Use College Raptor’s Free Matching Tool to search schools around the country.