I became a Trojan basically the day I got into USC. USC had always been my dream school. It had everything I wanted: a central urban location, a large Asian population, great weather, the list only goes on. However, the one drawback was the fact that USC's essentially down the block from my house. Did I think this was an issue? At first, no. It didn't affect me until the onslaught of something like, "Oh, so are you going to go home to do your laundry?!" or "Wow, your parents must really like that!" every time I told someone where I was going to college.
Out of the 86 kids in my graduating class, only a handful of us were staying in SoCal. Everyone else wanted to get as far away as possible: New York, Boston-- essentially wherever their parents couldn't spontaneously show up for a surprise visit. But for me, distance was not something I really cared about either way when looking for schools. In addition, I was always lucky to have a really great relationship with my parents. I knew (or at least hoped) that they'd respect my space and want me to thrive independently in college. They'd joke about showing up on my doorstep, but I knew that they wouldn't without asking or telling me first.
Nevertheless, the comments about the distance did make me feel insecure about and question my decisions. I knew college was going to be a time of great change, and I wanted to have as "authentic" of an experience as the kids going across the country.
However, USC turned out to be everything I could've ever wanted in a school. And while I know I could have gotten so many different, amazing experiences through going to a school out-of-state, I feel grateful for all of the opportunities and benefits that have come from going to a school close to home. Essentially, what I thought was going to be a curse, has turned into a blessing.
I know this is a time where current seniors are beginning to make their final May 1 college decision. So, here are 8 reasons why I love going to school close to home:
1. I don't get homesick!
Because school is a 20 minute drive away from home, I don't feel the homesickness that a lot of my international, out-of-state, or Bay Area friends feel. Knowing that home is just a short drive away has made the college transition quite smooth.
2. Going home on breaks is a breeze!
When I go home for break, I just pack my entire closet in a suitcase (don't ask), throw some extra stuff in the car, and drop it all off at home. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about limiting what I bring home since I don't have to account for factors such as baggage restrictions and whatnot. I also don't have to worry about booking flights, getting Ubers, etc.
3. I can see my high school friends while they're on break.
This year, some of the breaks of my high school friends' colleges unfortunately did not line up with mine. Nevertheless, I was still able to see many of my friends, as they all live in LA! So, when they came back during their break, regardless whether or not was on break, we could easily meet up!
4. If I'm sick I can come home.
I have been close, but have not yet been on my deathbed since I started college. However, if I were to catch the plague from Frat Row or Hand-Foot-Mouth disease from the party dorm "New North," then I could go home easily, and rest/recover in my own bed under the care of my own mom. In addition, I could go to my own doctor, which brings me to my next point.
5. I don't have to find a new doctor, hair stylist, dentist, nada!
Since I go to school in the same city that I've lived my whole life, I can go to the same hair stylist, doctor, dentist, orthodontist, physical therapist, and so on.
6. If I forgot something over break, I could swing by school and get it!
Even though I still pack my whole closet when I go home from break to prevent the chance of me forgetting something, I still could always go back to school and get something if I were to have forgotten it.
7. Internships/job-hunting process is a lot easier.
I know a lot of my out-of-state friends are having trouble figuring out summer plans through USC, as a lot of the research opportunities and jobs through USC are on campus. Therefore, I don't have to limit myself in my options, as I can easily come back to campus during the summer or other breaks.
8. I'm familiar-ish with the area.
I've lived in LA my whole life, so I know a good amount of places and am familiar with main streets/areas. However, there's still so much for me to explore with new USC friends, as LA is a huge city with so many new places popping up and things to do.
Going to college in my hometown, in my opinion, has given me a new perspective on the city. Even though I've lived here for 19 years, I'm now traversing the streets by myself or with my new college friends, which is an entirely different experience as well. I may be close to home physically, but through merely living away from my parents it has given me an all the experiences and feelings of independence I'd want in college, as well as the many awesome benefits mentioned prior. I know not every city is as bustling as Los Angeles, but I nevertheless encourage people to dissemble the general stigma around the idea of going to a school close to home. I do believe that there are just as many benefits as going to a school down the block as there is far away.