As a recent high school grad who has struggled with decision making since day one, I can confidently say that pursuing an out-of-state, 4-year university was one of the best decisions I have made to this day. No matter the consequences I may face when I reach my 30s, being swallowed whole by the student debt crisis in America, I'm overly satisfied by my choice.
There were many criticisms I faced as I made my decision to go to an out-of-state university. My friends would tell me it wasn't worth it, that I would miss home too much, and I'd be too lonely going to a school where I knew absolutely no one from my hometown.
My parents would constantly remind me about the amount of loans I'd be taking out, how I would not be traveling home on weekends because it's too far away to come pick me up, and most importantly, craving my mom's homemade food. I would have to stick it out until Thanksgiving because that was the soonest I'd be home after moving into the dorms mid-August.
However, I didn't let the critics of my decision stop me from pursuing what I wanted. I realized I could not let their opinions weigh me down from following the path I wanted to take.
The decision to go to a school further from home than my peers, spending more money on my education, and overall going to a place where I was a stranger was a solely up to me. Quickly, I learned that the only person who should be dictating the most important decisions in my life was me. As an individual in a society that's filled with a range of careers, and personalities, only you know what's best to make yourself successful.
Going out-of-state was a completely eye-opening experience. Getting away from the cliche hometown "blues", as some may call it, forced me to realize there was another world out there that appeared to be a complete change of scenery from the familiar, close-knit small rural town I grew up in.
Growing up in a small town led me to admire and envy those who could successfully "get out" and start their lives in a brand new atmosphere (the city, perhaps?). Many a time, kids my age from where I grew up either get stuck and never leave the town or end up at the same college as the majority of the people they graduated with.
Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to sustain the comfort of going off to college with kids you've known since fifth grade. On the other hand, however, you have to take a minute, step back, and think when the right time to move on actually is. For me, that was way before I even graduated. I wanted to move on from the small town the second senior year hit; senioritis much?
I idealized the thought of starting over. I wanted a fresh start with a brand new group of people, and coming so far from home was the perfect way to fulfill that. By successfully networking before college, utilizing social media to make friends, and even taking the chance to visit campus a decent number of times before moving in, I didn't feel so much as a stranger coming into college. Instead, I felt like I was coming home.
Honestly, right now as the first semester is coming to a close, I think I consider my university as more of a home than I ever thought the town I grew up in to be.
People say that choosing to go to college in another state is something that you'll regret, but for me, the outcome was completely the opposite. Of course, there were anxieties that I had to bear with as I made the transition from high school to college, as everyone does, but I can say that none of them ever revolved around the question, "Did I choose the right school for me?"
Deciding to pay the extra money to come out-of-state was definitely worth it. I could not picture myself attending any of the schools in my home state (I still can't), and I think that choosing a school over state lines was more beneficial than detrimental.
To anyone on the fence about whether or not to simply commit and send in the first tuition payment to an out-of-state school- do it. If you're afraid of being too far from home or anxious that you'll be walking in blind by not having any of your high school friends making the journey with you, don't let that be the factor that causes you to shy away.
The aftermath of my decision to come out-of-state has brought nothing but memories I'll be nostalgic for in the future and a world of opportunities. I knew the university I chose was the right one for me, regardless of the location, and I did not let anyone prevent me from following what my heart truly wanted. I didn't second guess myself. Surprisingly, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.
Everything happens for a reason.