How Far is “Too Far” For Your Student to Move to College?

How far should you go when you're leaving home for college?

Flickr user Bill Couch

“How far is too far?” is one of the many questions parents wrestle with when it is time for their students to move to college and as with all aspects of going to college, there is no one answer that is right for every family.

Some parents impose restrictions regarding the distance of the college from home, mainly because of the expense and inconvenience of traveling, and also because they fear they won’t get to see their student so often.

Other parents focus on college fit and don’t even consider distance as a factor in their decision. As long as the college offers the right academics and extracurriculars, they will encourage their student to attend, whether the college is in the neighboring city or across the country.

There a lot of good reasons to stay close and to move far away. The important thing is you have to decide what you are comfortable with and to weigh the pros and cons of both options.

Pros & Cons of Your Student Attending a School Nearby

You are likely to feel a sense of relief knowing that your student is attending a school within driving distance from home. Your student will likely visit home more often, and it’s also closer for you to dash across with homemade soup when your student is ill. Above all, it means you have to get to save a considerable amount of money on traveling as you won’t need to buy expensive flight tickets. Air or even train travel can add to the total cost of college. Paying less, while enjoying more frequent visits, is a win-win situation for everyone.

Another advantage of going to a school nearby is that the whole family can get involved in the student’s extracurricular activities. For example, if your child plays football for the college team or is in the performing arts, the family can be there to cheer and support. This can be a huge morale booster, especially in families that are very close.

On the other hand, those frequent visits that come with studying in a college nearby can also be a disadvantage. College is a time for students to learn to become more self-reliant and financially independent. When they are so close to home, this learning does not happen.

More often than not, students are tempted to go home to indulge in home food, get their laundry done, or get some sympathy after a, particularly stressful week. While this may be great in the short term, it holds your student back from fully exploring their potential to get things done on their own.

Pros & Cons of Your Student Attending College Far From Home

With distance comes independence. Students far away from home have to develop life skills, they learn to rely on themselves rather than solely you. College is just another step in them growing up, after all.

Another thing about moving far away is new experiences. Students can enjoy seeing things from a new perspective, be immersed in a different diverse population, or experience a different lifestyle than they’re used to. Students from rural areas might go to college in a big city. Or students from the south might experience snowfall in the winter if they attend school in the north. New foods, new music, new people!

Out-of-state tuition costs are a big factor when many students and families consider colleges outside their home state. Typically, it’s more expensive to attend school in another state—though there are exceptions—so parents encourage their student to look in-state.

Of course, if they’re far away you won’t be able to visit them as frequently—at least, in person. Travel either way gets expensive, and takes up a lot of time that should be spent studying. Fortunately, there are a host of ways to keep in touch with your student—phone calls, care packages, social media, Skype, FaceTime, texts, and others.

It Depends on the Student

Some students are eager to explore places beyond their hometown, others want to stick closer to home. Which type is your student?

College Raptor’s free match tool can show your student colleges that fit them—whether nearby or across the country!


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