What It's Like Going to College Close to Home

I started school at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, but now I go to Siena College. Without traffic, I could travel to MSU in about 11 hours, however, with traffic and/or a bad border crossing (the quickest route is through Canada) that time could skyrocket. I have had family members sit at the border for over five hours. Now, I can get home in as little as 20 minutes, which definitely has its perks.

While some people travel far and wide for college, I found out the hard way that I wasn’t the type to do so. My first time applying to schools I had absolutely no interest in going to Siena simply because I wanted to get away. After transferring, I first felt embarrassed, but I have come to terms with the fact that I just didn’t want to be that far from my family. I applied to a few other schools a few hours from home, but I visited Siena and loved it. Everyone who works here is beyond friendly, the campus is beautiful, and I took comfort in the fact that I had people to rely on – one of my best friends from sixth grade goes here. She wasn’t the only reason I chose Siena, but it didn’t hurt knowing I would have a friendly face to lean on.

Since transferring I have found that going to college close to home is what works for me. First of all, being only 20 minutes away allows for me to grab lunch with my parents, who happen to work three minutes down the road. I have always been close with my parents and although I don’t see them much, it’s nice to know that they’re around the corner if I ever need them.

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One great part about being close to home is SHOWERS!!! Luckily I no longer have communal bathrooms, but I did for my first two years here. Having the option to go home on a Sunday, or whenever really, just to take a shower, was an amazing bonus for me. Hopping in with no shoes on was more freeing than I could’ve ever imagined.

Another great perk? Home cooked meals and baked goods. Going to school close to home increases the likelihood that you will get home cooked meals or leftovers from home. Plus, it will probably increase the frequency that you receive those things. You might not get as many care packages, but you will definitely have a better chance at gourmet food from home, and possibly even baked goods too! Sometimes my mom will make baked goods just to drop off at school for me the next day. I even go home for Sunday night dinners with my family and grandparents from time to time!

Going home for a long weekend or even an afternoon is a breeze. No worrying about over the top planning or long drives – if you forgot something, you can just go back and grab it. Going home from MSU meant booking flights, possibly missing class and committing to a long trip home. Being close to home means I can run home for a few hours in the afternoon if I want to see my family. I never miss out on family events, big or small, because if I want to go I can just hop in my car and go. Last year, my family didn't want to wait until I was on college break to get our christmas tree, but it didn't mean I had to miss out because I was able to meet them for a few hours one Saturday morning to pick it out. Then, I went back to school for the weekend and was able to go home the next night for another few hours to decorate the tree.

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Sometimes the laundry machines at school just feel gross, especially if you live in an old building. Being close to home means that I can run home and do laundry if I have a ton of clothes built up. The machine at home is cleaner and bigger, plus I get to use my mom’s detergent instead of my own!

Another great part about going to school locally is having contacts for work without having to develop new relationships. Since I know so many people in the area, I already have babysitting and tutoring jobs that I worked in high school. It is super nice getting to make extra cash from time to time, and I didn’t even have to put in applications on Care.com or post flyers because I met these families in middle and high school.

I have found that being close to home, but not actually living at home is a good balance for me. I am able to be away from home for as long or short a time as I want and can make my college experience exactly what works for me. Luckily, Siena is in an area that also has fun things to do, and there are new restaurants, activities and people around me all the time, so it doesn’t feel like I’m back in high school.