10 Reasons to Attend a College Far From Home

Choosing the right college is not an easy task. How could it be with all of the different school types out there? Think about all of the factors to consider--state or private, city or urban, big or small, close or far--and those are just a few! While the final decision is easy for some to make, it’s not that way for the majority of incoming freshman. If you’re still deciding between schools close and far from home, here are some reasons that current college students chose to take the leap and go to a school far from home.

1. You want to explore a new city

If you grew up in the same city, it may be time to broaden your horizons and explore a new town. For Fordham University senior Sarah Curcio, that was one of the biggest reasons she decided to go to a school out of state.

“I was torn between wanting a traditional college experience and wanting to be in a new city and immersed in different cultures,” she says.

While Sarah still misses her friends and family sometimes, she doesn’t regret her decision at all: “It’s helped me grow not only socially, but also professionally. Being in New York gave me so many opportunities to begin a career there.”

You might miss your friends and family, but the learning opportunities and connections you make might point you in the right direction for your future.

2. You want to make new friends

No matter where you go to school, you will make new friends. However, sometimes going to a school far from home means that you’ll know less people coming into school. While that may seem daunting at first, many student have found that it’s actually a great way to meet people you may not have met otherwise. Cara Beal, a senior at West Chester University, began her college experience at University of Rhode Island, a school much farther from home then where she goes now.

“As a freshman, being so far from home was overwhelming at first, but I really grew as a person and got to experience so much, including new friendships. I’m still in contact with my friends from Salve Regina University and plan to go back there after graduation,” says Cara.

At the end of the day, it may take some time to warm up to a new city, especially if it’s your first time moving far from home. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though. After a few months, you’ll get the hang of it and start to meet new people.

3. You want more independence

Moving away from your parents is a big step. For many incoming freshman, their parents regulated their lives to some degree prior to living on campus. So when it’s finally time to try to hack it on their own, most college students jump at the chance. For Emily Schmidt, a sophomore at Stanford University, more independence was exactly what interested her in schools farther from home.

“I’ve lived in the same tiny town my entire life and have always been a homebody. However, for some reason when I wanted to apply to college, I applied to all out-of-state schools,” she says.

Somehow while going through the application process, Emily found out that she wanted to do more on her own. “Now having spent more than a year and a half across the country, I’ve developed more independence and confidence in doing things on my own,” she adds.

Going to a school far from home might be the push you need to try new things too!

4. You want a career in a specific city after graduation

Alumni networks are so important when it comes to networking for possible job opportunities after graduation. It’s no secret that it’s easier to get your “foot in the door” when you have a previous colleague or alumni network inside. Most schools have a career center, and some even have separate career centers for individual majors.

When you start your college search, it may be a good idea to browse the career centers and see which universities have alumni or resources that can help you making connections in cities where you’re interested in finding work.

Related: Ask a Collegiette: Adjusting to an Out-of-State College

5. You’d like to challenge yourself

Going to college is a great way to reinvent yourself, whether that be socially or academically or even personally. Mary Hilliard, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, knew she wanted to challenge herself to grow as a person.

“I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and branch out, and while it was intimidating at first to be the only person from my high school attending my college, it definitely forced me to be more outgoing and make an effort to form friendships,” she says.

If making friends is hard for you, moving out of your comfort zone might be that way to practice. For Mary, pushing herself to be more outgoing really changed her college experience, and it might change yours too.

6. You want to become more adventurous

If you’re someone who hasn’t traveled a lot, choosing a school far from home is a great way to start. Not only does it introduce you to a new state or country, but it also opens the door to so many road trips or possible traveling experiences you may not get going to a school close to home. Abby Piper, a senior at the University of Notre Dame, considers going to a school far from home a good chance to widen your circle and experiences.

“Leaving my hometown, I also feel like I'm more likely to move away after college,” she says. “It's easy to be comfortable and stay somewhere you're familiar with, but now I don't really feel like I have to go back to my hometown because I've already lived somewhere else.”

The more you travel, the more open you are to new experiences.

7. You are interested in a specific academic program

Some high school seniors already have their future careers figured out and a one-step plan to help them get there typed and ready to implement. If that sounds like you, choosing a school that’s far away might be a very real possibility if that school has the major or graduate school opportunities you’re interested in.

For Courtney Leverett, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina Pharmacy School, that’s exactly why she chose a school over twelve hours away from home.

“I was deciding between a few school closer to home and this program, and I ended up choosing a school farther away because I wanted to build a network not only in New York where I’m from, but other states as well,” she says.

If you’re set on one career path, taking the leap to attend a school far away for your program will be worth the gamble.

8. You want to move for the weather

If you come from a cold area, like New York or Massachusetts, choosing a school far away for warmer temperatures is common. For some, they make the move so they’re able to go to the beach year round, and for others, they decide to move to warmer weather cities because they can’t stand the snow. Whatever your reason may be, it’s always a good idea to get a feel for different weathers; you never know where your future career will take you!

9. You are interested in a particular athletic program

If you’re going to school for a sport, you may already know where you’re going before senior year. If this isn’t the case, finding the right athletic atmosphere might be a good reason to choose a school, which is exactly how Lauren Matchett, a senior at Notre Dame, made her decision.

“When I was looking for a school that I was going to row at, I knew I wanted a strong community both in and outside of my team, and I found that at ND,” she says.

For a lot of students, student life and the friendships they make along the way really impact their college experience. Finding a good athletic program that provides you with not only teammates, but friends can make all the difference.

10. You want a full student life

Aside from academic programs and career services, the quality of student life at college is a big factor for most students when deciding where to go. For some students, having the opportunity to join Greek life or being able to try out for a club team may be important. For others, being able to join a major or interest-related club is also a big factor. Regardless of the activity, it’s important to make sure the school you decide has some that interest you.

Choosing a college isn’t easy, and while it seems like this choice affects the rest of your life, it’s crucial to remember that this choice isn’t the determining factor on who you will be after graduation. Take from these current students; there are many ways your college experience ends up being different than what you expect.