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

College Search

Our counselors answered:

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

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

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

This differs by student. If you are adventurous, go away. You may not have this opportunity again.

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.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Location Location Location

Are you a homebody? Do you want your laundry done weekly? Are you adventurous? Do you like to take risks? Do you enjoy travel? Do you need distance from your family to grow into your own person? I personally always admire students that choose a different culture or geographic location than their own for their four years of college. It speaks to the student's ability to move outside of their comfort zone. This risk reaps substantial rewards.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Distance between home and school

Whether you attend school in your "backyard" or fly to the other side of the country, is a completely personal decision. Some students are ready to experience the independence that distance will dictate. Others may feel better, knowing that they can still go home for Sunday supper. For some folks there is the thrill of experiencing a different climate/culture/etc.; while others are more comfortable with what they know. There are a lot of schools out there and everyone is looking for the one that feels right to them.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Home Sweet Home or Far Far Away...

You need to have some self-knowledge to figure this one out. I know some students who live on campus at a college close to home who rarely see their parents, and others who feel the need to drive home often to have a home-cooked meal or do laundry. You may decide to live at home in order to save on the room and board costs. Or, it may be that you will receive a better financial aid package if you move out of your geographical area and bring some much needed geographical diversity to a campus further away. This will be one of the many considerations as you are looking at schools.

Gail Goetz
Educational Consultant Private Practice

Location of school

It depends on the student. Some students need the safety net of being close to home and others need to be nearby due to other extenuating circumstances. However, if a student is willing to go farther, I always recommend it. It is such a learning and growing experience to experience life in a different part of the country and to also meet other students from all parts of the U.S.

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… 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.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

Close or far?

The most important factor in choosing a college is its fit for a student, not its location or popularity. Remember, do not buy into the bumper sticker mentality! The ideal school may be close to home—or it could be in another state, even another country! Regardless of where the school is located, it should offer opportunities for intellectual growth, social experiences, and thinking critically. Warning! Just because your friend(s) are going to a particular college does not mean that you should. Most friends who attend school together have found other interests by the end of the first semester. Personalities develop significantly in college, and the right school will promote individual growth. Choosing a school because it is familiar or because your high school pals are going might prevent students from developing as independent, capable people with their own interests and passions. You are going to college to learn, and not just from books.

Judy McNeely

Geographic distances from home

In the 29 years I have done college counseling, I have learned that the distance from home has little to do with the decision of where to attend. The best way to express this is to say that I have had students find the right college and then distances became of little import. When truly involved on campus, even if only a few hours from home, the frequency of trips home is minimal [generally at Dec. break and possibly spring break]. The students are now adults and starting life in their new geographic location.