The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Choosing where to go to college is a really big decision, and thinking about going somewhere far away can make it even harder. I was choosing between schools close to home that many of my friends were going to, and CU Boulder, which was so far away and I only saw once before accepting my offer. To decide if CU is a good fit for you, I broke it up into 4 parts: travel, distance, Boulder and costs.
For some background, I’m from Pennsylvania and I drove out to Boulder my freshman year which was fall of 2019. I then drove my car back home at the end of that year, and all the way back to Boulder at the end of the summer.
This was a lot of driving for me and I do not want to make that drive any more times than I need to, which is why I only went home for a week this past summer. With each way being over 24 hours and often over three days long, it just wasn’t something I looked forward to. I mean, hey, you can only make Kansas interesting so many times.
There were definitely some moments this past summer that I wished I could’ve been home for. Most of my high school friends went to college close to home, and most either were already home or were in the dorms for two years, so they didn’t even have a place to stay at college for the summer.
That’s a big difference that CU has. Since most people move off campus after freshman year, it feels a lot different to come home for a whole summer when you’re paying rent somewhere here in Boulder.
If anyone reading this is debating about whether to drive out here or to come at all, I would suggest only bringing a car after freshman year. I used it a few times and it did end up being useful since I was kicked out of the dorms with the pandemic, but under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have needed it much at all.
If you avoid taking your car here freshman year if the drive is pretty long, then you may only need to do the drive to Boulder once and the drive back once, which if the drive is anywhere near the over 24 hour rides I had, is very worth it.
The distance from family and the car situation are really the hardest part of coming here from far away. I ended up finding some really great friends and creating a little family out in Colorado so I don’t feel as isolated from my family at home (awh, I know!).
Being physically distant from home and all my friends and family has been a difficult part of being at CU, but it really does make the time I am home a lot more special. When I’m only home for a week or two, I am scrambling to see as many of my friends as possible, and I don’t think I’d have this same urgency if I was always close to home.
Additionally, I have a weird thing where I think people should try to get away from what they know when they can. Going to college was my first opportunity to really shape my next few years into what I wanted them to be. I would be having so many different experiences if I decided to go to Temple, or Penn State, like many of my friends did, but I am really happy with my decision to branch out when I did.
Moving far away has given me a lot of perspective about what I like and what I don’t like about living here. I think choosing somewhere so different from my hometown was really important because I knew it would help me narrow down where to live after college. So far, Boulder has taught me that I really enjoy walkable neighborhoods, local businesses and a smaller-town local feel, with the amenities of bigger cities.
Living here has also taught me that I would like to live somewhere less expensive, and with a bit less of a hype around it. The feeling of tourists always being around Boulder definitely shatters my small-town feel sometimes. In case you’re wondering, for after college I am currently considering Philly or Brooklyn. I also want to visit the Northwest before I start seriously looking for neighborhoods to live in.
I think that CU and Boulder in general has a lot of hype around it, and finally seeing Boulder outside of the dorms. The dorms are fun, but just a very different experience compared to living in Boulder outside of the dorms. In some lenient times during the pandemic, I get this hype.
Boulder is really beautiful, and most of the people are amazing. Pearl Street and the activities we have here are really fun. Just for context again, I am from a medium-sized town in PA, but there isn’t a ton to do there. I still find Boulder exciting and love where I live.
Not to diss CU, but coming here I definitely thought that CU as an administrative operation was very liberal and student-oriented. This idea has definitely been changed, as I have seen the ways that CU, like every other university in America, has let down their students throughout the pandemic and even before.
I know that sounds bad, and might be discouraging to hear if you’re considering CU, but I try not to feel too upset about it because universities that care about their students really don’t exist in America. It’s sad to say, and I wish it were different, but they see us as money signs rather than constituents.
Now we come to the costs, which is what everyone has been waiting for. CU for out-of-state students is notoriously costly, not to mention the cost of living in Boulder after the dorms is never mentioned during the recruitment process (convenient, right?).
This year, my tuition is $19,971 per semester, adding up to $39,942 for the whole year. This is without rent, which on average is over $1200 a month. I really wish I had better things to say about the university, but really the positives of coming here come from the city of Boulder, not the university that occupies so much of it.
Overall, I know a lot of this sounds bad about Boulder and coming here from far away, but if you take my advice about only driving here and back once, much of the bad goes away. Additionally, just being aware of the costs of living in Boulder before you come here would’ve been nice for me, as I was pretty shocked when I found out about rent costs.
Boulder itself is really amazing and I love my time here. I have found many people that I love to spend my time with, and can’t imagine my college years any differently. I’m happy with the decision I made, even if it comes with some hard parts.