College: Staying vs. Going Away

To go away for college or to stay local, that is the question.  Some of us could answer it in a heartbeat depending on whether we’re

Latina college student looking to start over somewhere new, or prefer to spend our college days living in the comfort of our own homes.  For some of us, we aren’t quite as sure which option is better.  Maybe you’ve been offered a full ride scholarship in your hometown, but have always wanted to venture out of state or maybe you’ve scored a scholarship somewhere.  It’s a big decision that can determine the rest of your life (no pressure), so we got some current college students and recent graduates to share what their experience was after committing to a location in order to help you.  You’re welcome.

Let’s start with one of the biggest benefits of staying home for college.  It can be helpful to have the convenience of continuing to live at home, rent-free and not worrying about moving your entire life to a dormitory in a new city.  This is quite beneficial if you’re long term goal is to save some dinero.

Angelica, a student at Cal State Fullerton University, started at a local community college and shares, “I’m getting my [Bachelor’s] at a local state college….because it was cheaper….and it allowed me to live at home and save some money.”

Another bonus of staying home is that you get to stay close to friends (at least the ones that also chose to stay) and family.  “I definitely think that when you stay local, you have a stronger support from your friends and family because they’re literally one call away” says Maryella, 19 from Texas.

Although she sees the financial benefit of staying home, Angelica also says, “while I do like being close to my family, I do want to experience life beyond my little bubble and try out what it’s like to be out on my own. I think…it pays to be a little worldly…but in the end a lot of it has to do with what you can afford and the amount of work you are willing to put into it that makes the experience worthwhile.”

Leaving home and starting over in a new city can be quite intimidating but it also challenges you to make new friends.  “When I was younger, my father was an active-duty military member and I was used to moving around the country,” shares recent Northwestern University grad, Cathy.  “To me, college was just another adventure.  But prior to college, I had a very hard time making friends. I blame it on a combination of moving every three years and my generally introverted personality.  The single most important part of my college experience was forcing myself to….learn how to make friends. If I had attended a college closer to home and lived with my parents, I would have missed out on the most important emotional growing period of my life.”

It may take time to establish a support network of friends but eventually you get the hang of it.  Maryella eventually decided to leave home for college in order to set an example for her younger brother.  “No one from my high school was going where I was, so I was definitely nervous. But within a week of being in a new city, I met a few people and I didn’t feel alone anymore. My homesickness subsided, and I was having fun going to college far from my home and family….when you go to college far from home, you gain a greater sense of independence. You’re friends and family will still be there, but you’re ultimately testing your own abilities to make it.”

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