The thought of going to an out-of-state college might simultaneously sound like the best and worst idea that you have ever had. On one hand, you’re going to have the opportunity to meet a bunch of new people, you’ll get a fresh start and you won’t have to tell your parents where you’re going every time you leave the house. On the other hand, it’s a bit scary to think about heading to a completely new place and leaving your family, friends and even pets behind.
The fact that you’re even considering an out-of-state college shows that you are totally ready to take on the challenge. Luckily, you aren’t the first to be nervous about attending a college far from home. Here are eight common fears that every senior has – and how to deal!
1. You won’t know anyone
We aren’t going to pretend that this isn’t a completely valid fear, because it definitely is — especially if you’re moving to a state where you don’t even have family. The idea of being completely on your own is a bit of a shock to the system, but it might turn out to be one of the best things ever.
First of all, you get a completely clean slate. Now, we’re not saying that you have to go and change everything about yourself the second you step on campus, but you have the opportunity to start fresh and rid yourself of any stereotypes from high school.
If you want to make sure that you know at least a couple people when the first day rolls around, try to make friends with people at orientation. Although some people might try to play it cool, most freshmen have the same fear of not knowing anyone right off the bat. When you meet someone new or talk to someone that you could see yourself hanging out with, don’t be afraid to ask to exchange numbers – or even Snapchats. What better way to become friends with someone than by exchanging the occasional puppy filter?
It’s also be a good idea to look into the programs or clubs that your future school has. Usually during the first few weeks of classes, there are interest meetings for freshmen to attend. Joining a club with other people who share your interests is the perfect way to bond.
“In high school, I had two best friends that I did everything with,” says Paige VanderLeest, a junior at Iowa State University. “I loved being around them and I felt comfortable around them, so I never felt the need break out of my small social circle. I am extremely thankful for those friends, but I know I wouldn’t have expanded my horizons had I gone to an in-state school.”
The fact that you don’t know anyone means that you have plenty of room for everyone you meet to potentially become your new friend. While it would be awesome to have your day one BFFs with you at college, you will be so thankful to have two separate squads who will always have your back.
2. This is the first time you’ll be away from your family
Sure, you may have gone with your friends on spring break or a summer program for a few weeks, but potentially spending an entire semester away from your family can be tough. It may be hard to believe that you’re going to miss things like your parents randomly coming into your room (and not closing the door) or having to be your sibling’s personal driver, but you will be fine.
Living far from home might also mean that you have to do things like make your own appointments, pay your own bills and take care of other things that your parents usually take care of. No one leaves home completely ready to enter the adult world, but after you successfully make your first doctors appointment you will totally embrace your inner Olivia Pope and start handling things on your own left and right.
At first, it can be hard to say goodbye to those who know you best, but being on your own will encourage you to move towards being more independent. “Living away from home for the first time is scary,” says Ally Deck, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin. “After your first time away, the hardest part is over — you’ve ripped off the Band-Aid and you realize that you’re capable of being independent. Living at home is great, but it will always be there to return to.”
It’s going to take some getting used to, but there are plenty of ways to make sure you feel as close to home as possible. Maybe you can plan a weekly Skype date with your mom or kindly ask your sister to unblock you on Instagram so that you can see what she’s up to (and promise not to snitch). Also, the more you get out of your room and get involved on campus, the less you’ll notice the absence of your family.
3. You won’t be able to adjust to the weather
If you’re moving one or two states over, you probably won’t experience that much of a weather change. But, if you’re looking to move to a completely different coast, you’re in for a whole new world (or at least a whole new part of the country). It’s probably a good idea to do your research and find out the general temperatures for each season, so you’re not left out in the rain — literally. Fortunately, moving to a different place is definitely a reason for going on a shopping spree, or at least adding a few staple items to your wardrobe, which is never a bad thing.
In terms of knowing what to actually wear on a particular day, watching the weather or checking the weather app on your phone is definitely never a bad idea. “I used to wonder why my parents watched the weather every morning but now it’s become part of my own daily routine as well,” says Kelsie Savageau, a freshman at Murray State University. “It makes a difference knowing ahead of time, exactly how miserable it’s projected to be outside.”
Depending on whether you’re moving from a warmer climate to a cooler climate (or vice versa), there are adjustments that you can make in your dorm room that will make you feel more at home. If you’re used to cooler temperatures where you’re from, make sure to bring a fan so that you stay cool regardless of the toasty temperatures outside.
For those used to warmer temperatures, making the move to a cold environment can be a bit of a shock to the system. It’s probably a good idea to invest in a space heater, just in case your roommate isn’t thrilled about the idea of turning the entire room into a personal sauna, just make sure your dorm allows it. It also wouldn’t hurt to bring along a few blankets that can be your source of warmth day or night.
It might take a few weeks (or months) to better adjust to the out of state weather, but you will become a master of multiple climates — which is something not many people can say.
4. It will be expensive for you to go home
If you’re looking forward to moving far from home, it more than likely won’t be an issue if you can’t go home every single weekend. However, there will probably be some moments throughout the semester when you will want to go home, but might not be able to because of the quick turnaround time.
Thanksgiving is a prime example of this. It’s a major holiday that you, of course, want to spend with your family, but it might be a bit costly to go home when Christmas break is right around the corner. Some out of state collegiettes opt to stay on campus during the break but still make the most of it.
Erika Harrell, a junior at Howard University, is one of them. “Just because you are in college does not mean you can’t do certain traditional Thanksgiving things,” Erika says. “Watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It may not be the same as if you were home, but it can still put you in the holiday spirit.”
You can also consider getting a part-time job to help pay for your plane or bus tickets home. Your parents want you to be able to come home for breaks and they will really appreciate it if they see you are trying to step up and help out.
5. You’ll always feel homesick
This fear is pretty common for almost everyone. It’s not easy to go from seeing your parents and siblings at home everyday to maybe seeing them for a few weeks every couple of months. Feeling homesick isn’t something that is going to go away all at once, but as you settle into college life you will notice it a little less.
Some of the best ways to deal with homesickness include surrounding yourself with new friends, finding a club or organization that your passionate about and making the most of getting to know your new state. The more you can keep your mind on your new experiences, the easier it will be.
Danie Roberts, a junior at Lasell College, lived in a small town her whole life and was worried about the distance. “I was so scared I would never be able to see my family because of school and the distance, but now being out-of-state is normal to me,” she says. “If you’re worried about missing home, don’t back out just because it’s too far. Your dream school and education is worth it. I’m incredibly happy I moved out-of-state and decided to stay.” Even though it will be a little tough at first, you will more than likely be thankful that you took the plunge. Of course, where your family is will always be home, but who says that your second home can’t be just as great?
6. Your friends at home will forget about you
It can be hard to be the only one from your friend group going away for college, but you shouldn’t let that keep you from going. Your best friends want the best for you even if that means that you’ll be away from them. Just because staying in state is a good fit for some of your friends, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for you. Even though they can’t be there in person, don’t forget that they are just a phone call or text away. Group messages are a super easy way to make sure that you and your home squad keep in touch throughout the semester. Before you leave home for your first semester, make sure to grab your favorite pictures of you and your friends to decorate your room. Not only will it make your room feel more like home, but it’s a great daily reminder of the awesome memories you share with your friends at home.
“I have pictures plastered on my walls that remind me every day of all the things my friends and I have gone through together,” says Moira McCarty, a junior at LeMoyne College. “Even when I get wrapped up in college life, the pictures are a great little reminder of how much I love and miss them.”
Before you come home, make sure to schedule a few days where you and your besties can meet up without other family obligations getting in the way. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder and plus, you will have tons of cool, never before heard stories to share with your BFFs.
Sure you’re going to miss being a locker away from your BFF or being able to drive to your friend’s house after class, but as cliché as it sounds you will find a new squad once you get to college.
7. Tuition will be really expensive
Why students are punished for choosing to go to a school other than where they live, we have no idea. The best advice we can give for this one is scholarships, scholarships and oh, did we mention scholarships?
From describing your dream ice cream flavor to writing an essay about how expensive college can be, there are so many opportunities for scholarship money out there — not to mention the scholarship money that you can get from your actual school. It’s never too late to start applying.
Related: 4 Ways for Out-of-State Students to Get In-State Tuition
8. You’ll miss your pet
Okay, you can put on a brave face and say that you’re not going to miss your parents or siblings, but you can’t tell us that you’re totally fine with leaving your pet behind? While bringing your pet to college with you is a possibility, there are definitely pros and cons to this.
If you’re missing your pet at school, you can always ask one of your parents to put them on Skype or FaceTime — they’ll probably be happy to see your face too. It might also help to see if your family could give you updates, even a random story could make your day. Keeping lots of pictures of your pet around your room is also a great way to feel a little more connected to your pet while you’re away.
Going to school out of state is easier said than done, but don’t let your fears prevent you from potentially awesome opportunities. Embracing the challenge will only make you a more independent, well-rounded collegiette.