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Should You Go Away to College?

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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.

Pros:

Independence

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.

New experiences

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 experience.

Cons:

Loneliness

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.

Culture shock

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.

Added expense

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 college bill.

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.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on June 20, 2013

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