This question lingers on the minds of all potential college students
throughout their later high school years--should I go away to college?
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to your decision, including
money, family, friends and a burning desire for independence. Before ultimately
making your choice, read on to consider some of the biggest advantages and
disadvantages of packing up and leaving home for school.
When you graduate from high school, the
independence that goes along with going away to college can be very alluring.
You may feel stifled by your parents' strict rules and crave the responsibility
of being a full-fledged adult. Leaving the nest and learning to take care of
yourself can provide valuable life lessons--not to mention it can be a lot of
fun. For an 18-year-old that craves nothing more than freedom, the independent,
self-efficient lifestyle associated with going away to college is probably the
most appealing perk.
Meeting new people
While no one can take the places of your
oldest and truest friends, forming new relationships can be invigorating and
exciting. Different groups of people can introduce you to new ideas, new
cultures, and new outlooks that you might have never come in contact with back
home. It's always fun to make new friends, and establishing connections with
others will help you grow and change as a person. The lifelong bonds we make
should be cherished, but surrounding yourself with the same people year after
year is limiting--heading off to school in a new city and making new friends
will help you to evolve into an open-minded and multi-faced individual.
If you have lived in the same dullsville town
your entire life, heading off to school in an exciting big city could seem like
a dream come true. No more boring Saturday nights at the local mall or
cinema--you will be surrounded by an abundance of new things to try. Soak up
different cultures at local museums, indulge in regional staple cuisine, and
enjoy activities that are unavailable in your hometown. If you are from Colorado
and headed to the University of Miami, you may be able to lie on a beach and
gaze at the ocean waves for the very first time. There is no doubt that a new
city will offer you a plethora of thrilling new experiences to enjoy.
New perspective and self-growth
All of this change you will be
confronted by--endless independence, new friendships, and fresh, unexplored
surroundings--will undoubtedly change your perspective and inspire your thought
process. In a period of already immense change and growth, learning to become
more self-reliant will build character, strength and personality. Your tastes
and interests may grow more diverse because you will be exposed to so much, and
you will become more resilient and outgoing due to being on your own. Not having
the convenience of running home to your room to be alone after a hard day will
teach you to confront your troubles head on and serve as an excellent learning
Moving far away from home to a place where you will not know anyone
can be terrifying. If you are shy and do not make friends easily, you may spend
many nights in your dorm with your nose in a book until you become settled in.
You may long for the comfort of your old friends and family being nearby, or you
may terribly miss your treasured pet cat sleeping at your feet each night.
However, remember that loved ones are only a phone call away. Additionally, if
you will be rooming with another student, you may have a built-in friend to get
started--provided that you two get along, of course.
While a new city offers immense opportunities for
new and exciting experiences, vast changes can sometimes be staggering at first.
Striking contrasts in culture, attitudes and lifestyles can take some time to
get used to and may cause you to feel alienated or homesick. The best way to
cope with culture shock is to look at all the changes you are surrounded by as a
learning experience. Surely one of the reasons you wanted to go away to college
was to experience life in a new city, so focusing on the exciting aspects of
your new life will help you battle feelings of isolation--plus, your home will
always be there when you are ready to return.
One of the biggest drawbacks to going away to
college is the added expense. Living in a dorm is of course more costly than
remaining at home with your parents. Whether Mom and Dad are footing the bill or
you are taking out loans, dorming tacks a significant chunk of change onto your
If money is not a factor (maybe you received a full
scholarship) consider yourself lucky--however, others may have to mull over the
reality of this cost. Is it worth the added expense? If you have been accepted
to your dream school across the country, taking out student loans to cover your
dormitory costs may seem like a no-brainer. However, if you were accepted into a
local school and another just several hours away that has not much more to offer
you besides a little more freedom and independence, those high interest rates
you'll eventually pay really might not be worth it.
Lack of security
When you live at home, a loved one will always
be nearby in case of an emergency. However, when crisis strikes a hundred miles
away, you may find yourself coping alone. While comfort from friends and family
is just a phone call away, in certain dire circumstances that might not be a
sufficient substitute for their presence. While going away to college will teach
you to be more self-reliant and independent, there will surely be times when you
will want your mom or best pal by your side. Learning to go without the people
you leaned on the most will certainly teach you to be stronger and more
resilient in times of need.