I’ve known since I was a child that the only option for me was to go away for college. Not because I hated my family or my city, but because I knew I wanted the adventure. I wanted to explore the world on my own, to try being independent, to take four years to get to know myself before I pursued what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
As we get into the final months of college acceptances and decisions, I wanted to give one last piece of college advice to any students who are just like me. If you are planning on taking one giant leap of faith and leaving your home and old life behind to pursue college out of state, here is what you need to know.
1. Get Your Fill of Home-Cooked Meals
Is there something your mom or dad makes that you simply can’t live without? Request it every day of the week leading up to your departure. While college food isn’t nearly as bad as people say it is, it also is a far cry from what you would be eating at home, and you will miss it. Eat as much as you possibly can over the summer and breaks, and bring up some frozen meals for the homesick nights if you can.
2. If You Can Drive, Do It
Since I’m the only freshman in my school from Miami, I haven’t been able to find a ride directly home, but I drive with my roommate for six hours and then fly out of Atlanta. If you can find a ride all the home, take it. You’ll be able to come home a lot more often if you’re saving plane ticket money. And if you’re a person who hates car rides, fear not. I despised road trips before getting to school, and now a three hour trip up to DC feels like the blink of an eye. You’ll get used to it. Bring your best music, load up the car with your best friends, and you’ll be fine.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Be Homesick
You’re going to go to school with people who claim they never get homesick. Chances are, those are the same people who randomly drive two or three hours home every other week to see their family. When you go to school out-of-state, 6+ hours from home, we don’t have that solution. Call your family, look at old pictures, or even just go get dinner out with some friends for the night. You aren’t weak for missing home. You can still be independent and make it on your own if you have to hear your mom or dad’s voice every once in a while.
4. But You Can Minimize Homesickness..
While college is a chance to redesign your wardrobe and room, don’t throw everything out. Bring your favorite things from home and keep them visible in your room. Actively try to think of your dorm room as home instead of a temporary holding place until Christmas break. If you don’t realize that you will be spending the majority of time at college rather than in your childhood home, you are going to constantly ache.
5. Just Get Out (Once In a While)
At the same time, don’t trap yourself on campus. Go out to a nearby exciting city, go out to dinner, drive to a friend’s home state, go to the beach, do something with your friends. You need to get away from academic responsibilities for even just a little while to remember there is a point to life outside of studying.
6. Drop Care Package Hints Over Thanksgiving Dinner
Parents, grandparents, extended family members? Your loved one off to college will love care packages. They are literally a Godsend, a little piece of Christmas you can pick up from the mail room. A student’s favorite candy, new books, anything that lets them you were thinking of them can go a long way.
Going away is hard. Being away from home is hard. Developing new study habits and learning the lay of the land without the comfort of home to guide you is hard.
But if this is what you want, don’t dismiss it. You can do it. Make college an adventure, not an obligation.