During the college admissions process, one timeless debate is where to attend college. Hollywood romanticizes the idea of trading dirt roads for the glittering lights of a big city at the ripe of age of 18. Thousands of students have hopped on the bandwagon [and onto an American Airlines flight] to follow their dreams across state lines. Surprisingly, students (such as myself) who travel hundreds of miles from their hometown are stigmatized by their peers for leaving the nest. Here are the top ten phrases that are guaranteed to make every out-of-state freshman groan:
1. “Are your parents really happy to send you 500 miles away?”Giphy
There is no doubt that ANY parent seen on a college campus on move-in day will be clutching a tissue box, whether they are driving 45 minutes back to their hometown or spending the next twelve hours on a plane. Crying and the occasional lonely day is a natural side effect of separation. No parent is overjoyed to be so far away from their student, but they get used to being distant with a little help from FaceTime, Skype and social media. These platforms were invented so you can keep in touch with your family and friends from afar. Also, many parents eventually forget these distressing feelings once they see their child thriving and forming traits that mark their new independence.
2. “You are just itching to get away from your family and friends. Are you okay?”
Here lies the other extreme of 'separation anxiety' conversation. I love my parents and friends deeply, and do not have an undesirable home life, like this assertion suggests. I have made some wonderful memories at my high school – but I also believe the Italian proverb "Everything in moderation" – including when it comes to my hometown.
3. “…but you can get that degree at one our state schools!”
Yes, I may be able to earn that degree in an in-state institution, but I didn't choose to do that. In my particular situation, my out-of-state options were reach schools, and comments like this one undermine the hard work it took to earn an acceptance letter. Additionally, this statement crushes the notion of broadening hypothetical horizons and potential educational exploration. It is a broad sweeping assumption that is often not backed by insight or knowledge.
4. “Congrats on being a Buckeye/Nittany Lion/Etc. next fall!”Giphy
I can feel every football fan cringing that I put Ohio State and Penn State in the same sentence. I wouldn't know about their rivalry because I will become an Ohio Bobcat this fall instead. The confusion between Ohio State and The Ohio University is almost as awkward as my cluelessness towards one of the biggest rivalries in college football.
How will you pay that hefty out-of-state tuition?”Giphy
Well, I was thinking about running a lemonade stand and selling a kidney to pay for the plane tickets… Just kidding! Many schools offer tuition matching for in-state and out-of-state students depending on that student's GPA and FAFSA. Sometimes these out-of-state options may be even cheaper than private institutions.
6. “Are you actually excited for Parents Weekend?”Giphy
I am not outwardly cringing at the thought of my Dad strolling down Court Street – or any street on campus, for that matter. Unlike some of my peers, I cannot come home for Sunday afternoon brunch and make it back to campus for an 8 A.M. lecture. If my parents or friends participated in any homecoming events, they would hypothetically spend the same amount of money on a weekend vacation, so I value the time I get to see them, regardless of the place or time.
7. “Oh, look! You are the only alum from this high school to go there!”Giphy
This statement is incredibly liberating, but also nerve-racking when your classmates are asking each other to be roommates and you don't know a soul at your future school. Everyone is asking older friends, siblings, teachers and alumni for advice to navigate the ins and outs of their school, and you're clueless as to what is in store for you. So much for bragging rights…
8. *cries* “How will you survive without Wawa?”Giphy
I promise to participate in every day of Hoagie Fest just for you. It will be tough living without the comforts of home, but that just gives me an excuse to have a gigantic shopping spree and eat my body weight in home-cooked food.
9. “What a rash decision! Online tours don’t do a school justice.”
Virtual reality is an amazing tool, but it can not truly replace visiting a campus and feeling the vibe in person. I was lucky enough to visit my school twice before enrolling, but I did not hesitate to thoroughly research the program I am beginning next fall, and I am confident that many other out-of-state kids can say the same.
10. “Aren’t you taking this reinvention thing a bit too seriously?”
There is never a wrong time for self-improvement. The transition from high school to college is a perfect time to change habits, friends, appearances, and morals. One chapter is closing and another one is beginning, and YOU get to choose how you are perceived without your past mistakes or attitudes following you. This is the time to be the person you've always dreamed of, and flying a thousand miles away to be that person truly sweetens the deal.
Going to school out-of-state is as exciting as it is terrifying. But we knew what we were committing to when we applied and accepted our invitation to the college we wanted to go to. And even though it's got its ups and downs, we wouldn't change a thing.