The college search process is filled with web searches, phone calls and campus visits. We ponder on whether or not we want to live on an urban campus or to reside somewhere a bit more isolated or rural. We decide on how many students is too little or too many. We explore what colleges and universities have the best programs within our desired fields of study. We spend countless hours researching schools far and wide, and for some of us, only to find that the school of our dreams is right down the road.

I attend school about 20 minutes from my house, and I also live on campus. It's convenient for me in terms of my academic pursuits as well as my social life. I am very well aware that I have spent a ton of money on room and board and dorm necessities, but this is my college experience.

I firmly believe that college is what you make it, and it doesn't matter how far you go from home. Some people may desire to leave home and to blossom on their own elsewhere, but I think you can progress and develop just as well in your home area.

People consistently tell me that I shouldn't miss home when I go off to school, or that I should have gone somewhere further away. I still don't get to see my family (including my dog) and friends from home on a consistent basis. I'm still responsible for waking myself up every morning and putting myself together. I pick out my outfits and plan my days just as if I was hundreds or thousands of miles away.

It's not that I'm not capable of dropping everything I have here and picking it up and starting completely anew somewhere else. I have dreams of traveling and seeing the world as my life goes on. I simply wanted to transition into this new part of my life in a place where I felt I could grow to be the best person I could be.

I have lived in my beautiful city of Pittsburgh for almost 20 years, but I still learn more about it every day. I didn't know about half of what was in the city until after being on campus for a semester. I love exploring this place I call home, as I fall more in love with it by the minute. Around each corner is a new adventure (and a different pizza place), and I love being able to share it with the family I have found for myself at school.

So sure, perhaps I like to go home every once in a while. I like seeing my family and any friends who are around. I go home to work to ensure that I have some extra cash to pay for things I want to do during the school year. Other weekends, I will stay down at school to spend time with those friends or to be in a better location for a specific event happening that weekend. I approach everything I do with a purpose.

I am more than able to balance my life at school with my life at home; I don't feel that I'm "missing out" on anything. I wake up every day proud of my decision and the person it has made me, and I couldn't thank my school or my city enough for that blessing.