Should I stay or should I go? Pros and cons of going to college near home

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The college admission process is arguably the most stressful time for a teenager. Making lists of what schools you want to apply to, writing your personal statements and taking those awful standardized tests (we’re still recovering from them) were among the worst of times. Now that all of that work is in the past, there’s a new obstacle in your way: deciding which school you’ll actually attend. One of the biggest considerations in your decision is how far you want to be from home. Speaking from my own experience, I knew of a few people who went to local universities. Being from the Bay Area, a lot of my friends decided to go to school in SoCal or out of state. After being at UC Berkeley for two years, I’ve had the opportunity to reap the benefits and the consequences of going to college close to home.

PROS

Familiarity with the area

One of the biggest pros of going to a school close to home is that you know all the best spots for any kind of cuisine and all the places to hang out. Maybe you can even bring your new friends along for a fun adventure!

Escaping campus

Having the option of going home is a major plus, especially during dead week, when libraries and coffee shops are packed. If all hell breaks loose, you know that you can easily go home and sleep in your own bed. There’s no need to catch a plane, which saves lots of money and stress — we’re talking about airport security here.

Home-cooked meals and laundry

Another pro is having home-cooked meals whenever you want. Let’s just say that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Seriously, though, home-cooked meals never looked so good. And while you’re at home, you can get your laundry done, too. Sure, you can do it yourself, but it’s always nice when it’s done for you.

Light packing

Because you live fairly close to campus, you won’t need to bring everything that you own to college in fear that you’ll forget something. Whether you’re living in a dorm or an apartment, there isn’t going to be enough space to store all of your belongings. Having the option of easily switching out your wardrobe is a plus when storage is limited. This also comes in handy when you’re moving in or out.

Support network

The biggest advantage of going to college close to home is that your support network is right there if you need it! College is a stressful time, especially during your first year, so it’s comforting to know that your friends and family are close by. If there’s an emergency, you know that you can easily go home without any hassle.

CONS

Mr. and Miss Not-so-independent

It can be a little difficult to be independent when you live super close to home. Your parents check in on you even more because you don’t really have an excuse not to go home. They ask if they can get you things or what they can do for you to come home for dinner. Sometimes you may even feel obligated to go home because you live so close.

Been there, done that

One of the biggest parts of college is exploring a new place and making it your new home. But because you’re from the area, you might already know it quite well. However, in my experience, being from an area and going to school there are a bit different. Going to school in the area gives you a different perspective on the place as a whole. If anything, going to school so close to home has pushed me to explore beyond my boundaries to try new places and things that I never would’ve before. 

New year, same you

Being super close to home also means that your parents can visit you whenever they want. Expect some phone calls or texts asking if you’re at the dorms because they wanted to stop by. Or if you’re out and about, you might run into family, teachers and old acquaintances. This might be a nice encounter, but it may make it difficult to reinvent yourself, which is another big part of college. 

Home is where the Bears are

Another con of attending college close to home is that you don’t really get to leave. While your friends can hop on a plane and leave Berkeley, you can’t really escape. Sometimes you just want to get away — like, far, far away.

No matter what you decide to do, remember to think about yourself and do what’s best for you!

Contact Allison Fong at [email protected].