I am from a suburb of Chicago, and when I started touring colleges I did not take distance into account. I toured colleges far and near, so when I decided on the University of Missouri, I did not think the six hour distance would affect me too much. After all, I had attended a sleepaway summer camp in Michigan all throughout middle school. Although, when I was dropped off in Columbia, Mo.—nearly 400 miles away from home—I had a harder time assimilating than I thought I would. I love my college, and I’m glad I chose it, but there are some things I wish I would have known before I made the decision to commit.
You get to meet new people.
I was one of the only people from my graduating class that attends my university. It’s hard to be far away from what you are familiar with, but this forces you to go out of your comfort zone and meet new people. If I went to a school closer to home with more people from my high school, I know that I would not grow as much as I have so far.
You’re probably at a school that’s good for your major.
When I was choosing colleges, I toured the best schools for my major. If you make the decision to go to a college far away, odds are you’re making a good choice for your academic career. Going to a school that is best for your area of study is much more important than going to a school because of its proximity to your hometown.
You gain valuable life experience.
As much as it would be nice to go to a school near my home, I would not have gained the amount of independence that I have now. At first it is hard being so far away from everything that you have known for the past 18 years, but it forces you to grow up and get used to being an adult.
You can’t go home for the weekends.
Being an out-of-state student makes it easy to get jealous of friends that can easily drive home for the weekend. I am not able to go home before any of my breaks, but it’s not all that bad. It gives me more time to explore my college town and stay with the friends that I have made. On the bright side, the longer distance between going back to your hometown makes seeing your loved ones much more enjoyable when the time does come.
You’ll miss your family and friends.
Homesickness is normal when you are away from home for the first time. However, phone calls and FaceTimes can make the distance feel a little closer. Exchanging letters and care packages with your family and friends at different universities can be a fun activity to stay in touch before your next break.
You don’t have as many scholarship opportunities.
One major downside to being an out-of-state student is that you don’t get in-state tuition. Although this is oftentimes the case, the life experience that you gain from going to a university far away from home outweighs the smaller amount of scholarships.