This is the third in a series of posts which discuss factors in making a college list.
When I applied to college, my parents were quite open-minded. Quite frankly, my mother told me I could look at any colleges I wanted, as long as they weren’t in California and New York City. It seems the extremes of those locales were just a bit of a stretch given my small-town South Carolina upbringing.
Geography can be an easy way to pare down your options, and I’ve frequently worked with students who have begun the process with a map. On the map, they’ve drawn a circle with a four hour drive radius. Without your own car on campus, keep in mind that four hours from home is an eight hour trip for the driver. It is a doable one-day trip. Beyond four hours, one can make the argument that distance from home becomes less relevant and maybe then, it’s time to place more importance on other factors.
It’s possible to stay right in your hometown for college, yet still have a new and different experience. Your hometown can look quite different when you share it with fellow students who didn’t grow up there. If you have the opportunity to live on campus you can pretend that you are anywhere you want. The key to success in this is defining your relationship with your family. Are you going to come home for dinner every Sunday night? Is it ok to bring dirty laundry home with you when you come for dinner? Have a parent-student conversation about everyone’s expectations, and you might find that distance from home and independence need not go together.