As you begin the task of applying to college, one of the first big decisions you (and your family) have to come to terms with is whether your ultimate goal is to go away from home or to stay local.
For some, this decision may rest primarily on how much scholarship/financial aid is awarded from a particular school. Going away may sound appealing, but if you get a full scholarship to the college closest to home, suddenly your room at home may look better and better.
If, however, the cost is not the front-running concern, then serious thought needs to be given to the pros and cons of staying home or going away.
Do What's Right For You
For each high school senior embarking on a journey to college, this is a decision that you will own for the rest of your life. It is not a time to take into account what your friends are doing, what other siblings may have opted to do, or what your current significant other wants you to do. Staying local and going away are both personal choices, ones that you will have to uphold for four years.
Why live far away
One of the major benefits of choosing to leave home is the independent skills you will gain by living on your own. If you leave your family, your friends, your high school comfort zone, you will almost be forced to learn new skills, adjust to different surroundings and you will come to realize very quickly just what a capable and responsible young adult you are.
Additionally, starting college in an environment where the reputation you have in high school, (most athletic, most popular, etc) is not a daily insignia will also reap benefits as well. You can redefine yourself, reinvent yourself if you wish, and become a more well-rounded, worldly person in this new environment.
Why stay close to home
With the pros, come the cons as well. Do you talk to your parents about everything daily? Are they the ones cheering you on when you succeed and handing you tissues when you face a crisis? Is your sibling your closest friend? Do you have tea with your grandmother each week? All that will change if you go away to school.
In spite of things like Skype, there is no connection as strong as the face to face daily time with family members. Your support system will not be on hand 24/7 should you have a bad day. While your family will always be there for you, there will not be the 24-hour accessibility that you have become used to since you first came into being. It’s a time for growing up and that can also mean growing a little bit apart; in so far as daily interactions go.
Finally, you need to keep in mind the added expense of going way. Room and board will be needed each year and of course, you will want to visit home at times. Depending on distance, that could be a plane ticket, a train ride or even a few gallons of gas. Those costs add up if you want to come home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and for a few weekends here and there. And, you WILL want to come home, no matter how independent you are feeling when you leave.
At the end of the day, it depends on the individual person and the comfort levels, family connection and future goals. This is not a decision that can be made in one sitting or on one night’s sleep. The time to talk about this is mid way through junior year of high school, so that you have an idea of just how far you’ll plan to roam next year!