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Ask the Expert - Choosing Where to Go to College

 

Is it Better to Move Away to School or to Stay in My Hometown?

Many students fall in love with going to an out-of-town school. Move to a new place, meet new people and gain independence - it sounds great. All too soon these students learn one of life's great lessons: making daily, life-changing choices can be very stressful. Those students who best handle the anxiety that comes with independence use a proven strategy to arrive at good personal decisions.

GOT BACKBONE?
The decision to stay in town for a postsecondary education or go out of town needs hours of deliberation. For many students the decision is an easy one. Their financial resources do not permit them to go out of town or away to school. Generally they are happy that a school with their desired program exists in the town they live. For them the decision is an easy one. For other students the decision is not as straight forward. Their families have the economic means to send them away to school or to provide a major portion of the costs.

Students need to reflect upon their personality traits and skills. Out of town schooling requires independence and good budgeting and time management skills. Find out if you are ready to go away to school by taking our easy quiz at the bottom of the article.

GO ON FIELD TRIPS
It is very important that students visit schools before making a final decision. Nothing hits home better than the feel of a campus. Every college or university possesses its own unique personality and specific geography.

Some schools are located in the heart of a large metropolitan city while others claim a wilderness environment. Go there and visit. Get the feel of the place. You will know if it is right for you. All colleges and universities schedule on-campus visit days throughout the year.

Two words of caution - first, all schools develop a "reputation" over time. This status is generally tied to a specific discipline or faculty. Going for reputation alone short-changes your experience. I have attended four universities in my life and all were different and excellent in their own right.

Second, don't use moving away as a means to grow up or mature - it's dangerous. Post-secondary campuses require students who are mature and focussed. If you are not there yet, take some time away from school to experience growth. Then apply to out-of-town schools when you are ready. Remember that good decisions are rewarded with a fulfilling post-secondary education that leads to a meaningful career.

THE I'M INDEPENDENT? QUIZ
Am I a strong, independent thinker?
a) Yes
b) No
c) Not Sure

Can I make big decisions?
a) Yes
b) I've never made a major decision
c) No

Do I have solid time management skills?
a) Yes
b) I usually get my stuff done on time
c) No

Can I meet people and make friends easily?
a) I choose friends carefully
b) My apartment will be party central
c) I'm a loner

Am I disciplined and goal oriented?
a) I'm ready for boot camp
b) I know what I want to do in the next year
c) You mean that project was due yesterday?

Will I have any friends or relatives in my new location?
a) Half the town knows me
b) I'm in with Auntie Em
c) Hello, is anyone out there?

Have I ever been away from home before?
a) I have my own place
b) Sure, at camp
c) Do sleepovers count?

How terribly will I miss my family and friends?
a) Can't wait to go
b) Homesick at first
c) I can't live without them

Do I budget my money?
a) I control every penny
b) I fulfill my responsibilities
c) I'll get credit cards

If you mostly chose A's you are probably ready to handle life on your own. If you answered B's, be aware of your shortcomings and decide if you are ready for independence. You may want to spend your first year at home and then transfer. If you selected C's, stay close to home and work on your personal growth.

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