Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

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Our counselors answered:

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Location, location, location.

It's improtant to know in which environments you thrive. Do you need the hustle of a big city to stimulate you, or do you focus well someplace serene and removed? Staying close to home can have benefits both financial and academic - many students will attest to saving money by living at home and making impressive grades without being distracted by the excitement of a freshman dorm. However, equal numbers will claim that exercising their independence by moving away from home was very benificial to their overall maturity. All of these factors can have an overwhelming affect on your experience as a student, and must be considered. However...Do not choose your college because it is close to the beach, has great weather, offers skiing as a minor, or despite not having anything academic to offer you, is in a city you've always loved. none of the above will benefit you in the long run.

Ed Garcia
Assistant Professor/Counselor Austin Community College

Stay close?

A classic question. Is it better to stay closer to home, or go far away when you are deciding to pursue higher education? Each scenario presents unique advantages and disadvantages. There are some students who prefer to stay local for a variety of different reasons. Those reasons could include cost, strong family ties, or maybe they have to since they have other responsibilities that they need to tend to. On the other hand, some students might be coming from a better financial situations and might be able to go to school far away (in this statement you can hear my bias). I grew up in the southern California area and I was fortunate to have lots of higher education options. In some other states the nearest institution of higher education (IHE) might be hours away. Then we get into the definition of what is "far." For some students far might be an hour away, for others it might be more than 6 hours. Truth be told a lot of the questions that are posed on Unigo really do not have a "right" or "wrong" answer since each students situation is unique. Instead of focusing on how far or close a university is I would encourage students to explore the institutions of higher education (IHE's) that they are considering and then make the appropriate choice. For me personally I decided to stay close to home, but live on campus. I was 30 minutes away from home in case I needed to go back on the weekends, and I was also close enough to receive family support. At the same time I lived on campus and this allowed me an opportunity to grow, learn, and experience life on my own. I believe I got the best of both worlds. Attending college is going to be a unique experience you will always remember just make sure that you are attending an IHE for the right reasons, and by all means, please make sure they have the program of study that you are interested in.

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Should I stay or should I go?

This is another question that it so important to the critical building blocks of the college search and selection process. Students really need to be honest with themselves about what a comfortable distance from home would be for them. Keep in mind that your primary goal at college is to study and do well academically. School first and foremost should be about the learning. Everything comes after that. With this in mind, what do you do now to make yourself comfortable to study? Do you go to a coffee shop with low cool music playing and get yourself a latte before typing away at your next English composition? Or, do you lock yourself in a sound deprecated room in your house with a single study lamp pointing your attention at your computer to focus, focus, focus. Each of us seeks out that perfect learning environment so that we can get the deed done right? Distance from home should be treated in a similar fashion. For some students they are going to do their best if they remain at home and commute to their school. For others, the will draw a two to three hour radius around their home and decide that this is their maximum comfort zone. It presents them the ability to get home in a few hours and the ability to return to school when that homey affection starts to wear off. Finally for a group of students they will be happiest knowing that mom or dad are a plane ride away and showing up Saturday night unannounced at their residence hall room door will just not happen. The bottom line is that you should answer this question up front, know what you need and then when it comes to working at your education…..you will not have made your distance from home the real problem as to why you are unable to focus, study and complete your homework, class and ultimately your degree.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

What are you ready for?

What do you want to do? When in your life will you get the chance to experience something new? When will you have the opportunity to live someplace different? Maybe you feel comfortable close to home, that's fine. Then stay close to home. Maybe you want to explore something totally different. If you are on the east coast, maybe you want to go South or southwest. If you are int he south, maybe you want to explore Philadelphia, New York, Boston, or D.C. If you are on the West Coast, Why would you ever leave that beautiful weather? :) There are some great schools out there that are not close to where you live. Explore them. As an aside, sometimes schools where the cost of living is less, their tuition,room, and board is less too. The difference in cost savings can buy a lot of plane tickets.

Dustin Giesenhagen
Counselor Grand Junction High School

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

A very common question! Many students battle with this dilemma... should I stay close to home near family but maybe miss out on a new experience or should I go somewhere new and exciting but be far from those I care about? The answer is never clear and there are many factors to consider. First off, are you set on your course of study or are you do you see yourself possibly changing majors numerous times? Some schools only offer certain programs which could influence where you choose to go and therefore how far you have to travel. Do you have the means to travel back and forth between school and home if you desire to? Some students have never been away from home for more than a week and get homesick very quickly. Others know that they will be okay if they only visit home for the holidays and therefore will be okay going off to a school that is far away. If you still can't decide, is it possible find a happy medium? I've found that many students (including myself) are very happy if they find a school that is around a 300 mile radius from their home. This provides the feeling of moving away and becoming autonomous while also providing the opportunity to travel home for the weekend in case you need some home cooking and a break from the school cafeteria! Either way you go, this is an important decision to make and you should be sure to discuss it with your family.

Cheryl Millington

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

The answer is it depends. Let’s assume that you have two equal choices in schools and the only difference is location; one is closer to home than the other. The difference in distance can affect the following: 1. How often you can return home. Obviously it's easier to come home on any weekend if your’re just an hour away. However, if you’re 8 hours away, it probably only possible on long weekends, Christmas and March break. 2. How often your parents can visit (you may need their support more than you think). If you’re further away, your parents may visit less often but their trips may last longer. Your parents may also worry more about you if they feel you’re far away from them. 3. The availability and ease of accessing different modes of transportation (e.g., care pooling, bus, train, plane). 4. The cost of returning home will increase the further away you are. When you’re budgeting do consider the frequency and cost of returning home. 5. Your level of homesickness or transition issues may increase the further away from home you are. Location is a huge deciding factor so weigh the pros and cons very, very carefully.

Janet Kraus

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

If staying home isn't about saving money, GO AWAY! Statistically speaking, it may be the only time you leave your hometown. It will give you a new perspective and a place that is quintessentially yours. It will get you involved in your college faster and more deeply. You don't have to go FAR far away, but go far enough that you're not tempted to come home every weekend.

Kris Hintz
Founder Position U 4 College LLC

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

That depends on many factors. First, the personality and culture of the student and his or her relationship with the family is paramount. A student who is very close to his or her family, who has strong emotional needs for coming home frequently, would probably be happier attending a college within a three hour driving radius. There may be expectations of frequent home visits for families from some cultural backgrounds. Second, the student's extracurricular activities may involve the family. If the student participates in sports and the family enjoys going to his or her home games, or if the student is in the performing arts and the family attends his or her concerts or plays, it may be important to be within that magic three hour radius. Third, the family's financial situation and/or time flexibility may dictate geography. Air or train travel adds cost to the college bill. If the parents do not have time to drive eight or more hours one way to pick up a child at school, perhaps the student should consider a college nearer to home. All that said, you only go to college once, and part of the college adventure may include exploring a different part of the country. Willingness to consider colleges outside of your geographic comfort zone might open up more academic options as well.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

All depends on whether the college has the right curriculum, desirability, meets all your specific criteria & is affordable.

Eric Dobler
President Dobler College Consulting

Is it better to stick close to home or go to school far away?

This is a question I always turn back on the student to answer because there is no way for me to say which choice is a better one. However, what we can do is have an honest and open conversation about what you think are the positives and negatives of the situation. I think first you have to define what "far" is. Is it the other side of the country? How about another time zone? Another climate or region? Or is it just the next state over? Next, I think you need to think about how you relate to your family and your home life. I've known students who couldn't wait to graduate from high school and take off on the college adventure only to realize they missed the familiarity of home, friends and their family. Others, took off and didn't look back because they were okay with keeping up with people through email, the phone and Skype. Another consideration is cost. If you go far, you will need to live on campus (and I'm a big believer in living on campus regardless of where you go, but that's a topic for another day) and you will have to think about how you will get home for holidays and breaks. If you are across the country, that could mean paying for multiple flights each year which is a cost you may not necessarily think about when you are looking at schools. If you were to stay close to home and actually live at home, you could save yourself quite a bit of money which might be used towards a car, or saved for graduate school. At the end of the day, there are several layers to this question, but they all begin with figuring out what is important to you first. Start there and the answer will reveal itself eventually.