Should I stay or should I go?
By: Mario Root
“I want to get away!” It’s a common refrain that high school counselors hear from students when asked what they are thinking when it comes to college. As counselors probe deeper they tend to learn a few different reasons why students make this claim. Some have a burning desire to get out of the house, others want to live in a different geographic reason, and still, others don’t know why they want out, they just do. There are some obvious restrictions that can make it more difficult for some students to venture out than others such as costs. For the purposes of this blog, I want to focus squarely on the idea of going away versus staying local.
First, going away is in many ways a subjective term. A three-hour drive can be defined as going away for one student while a three-hour plane ride is more in line with going away for another. This distinction is important and is a good starting point when considering this topic. No matter how badly a student wants to get away, getting back home is something that should always be part of the equation. How long can you go without your mom’s famous spaghetti dinner? Can you handle missing many of the important milestones of a younger sibling? The farther away you travel the frequency of returning home for visits decreases.
“I want to go far away so I can live in an environment that is very different than where I live now.” Somehow this statement is synonymous with traveling from one state to another for many students. If you live in a large state such as California or Texas you can travel a great distance from home and never leave the state. Moreover, large states tend to be less homogenous in terms of their major cities. For example, a student who grows up in San Francisco and decides to attend school in San Diego will not only be 500 miles from home, they’ll also live in an environment where the climate and culture are different.
So is there a good reason to leave, say Dallas to attend school in Philadelphia? Absolutely! There are many students for whom moving to a totally different part of the country is the right thing to do. For some, getting totally out of their comfort zone is a welcomed challenge. It forces students to interact with people, whether it be other students or those in the city, that are different. It can also be an important part of the college experience that broadens a student’s perspective. A student may learn to utilize public transportation or handle living through a harsh winter with snow.
Ultimately, as with all decisions regarding college, students must consider what their goals are with regard to distance from home. This is a highly personalized decision that can vary even amongst siblings. The only wrong decision is the one that doesn’t fit who you are and what you are hoping to accomplish.