The summer is coming to a close and for millions of high school seniors across the country, they're wiping their tears while giving their final goodbyes to friends and family as they pack their parents truck and vans full of furniture and clothing. They're heading off for college. Whether it's a few hours away, or a few states away, they're going away and might not be back until Thanksgiving.
But they've got a fresh, exciting adventure ahead of them. They're wiping the slate clean, going to a totally new place, meeting brand new people, and doing so many things for the first time. It's what some old people call "the best four years of their life". They can't wait to get started, and they can't wait to get away from home. So the middle of August arrives and everyone has shipped off and moved into their dorm rooms.
But worry not young soul, you're not alone. Read on.
Not everyone can go hours away for college, and for a lot of people who can, they just don't want to - and for very reasonable and wise reasons they choose to stay home. I'm one of those people, who for years and years was certain I was going to go hours and hours away for school, but yet here I am commuting just a short 10-15 minute drive to the University of Cincinnati from the wonderful home I've spent 19 years living in.
In the end, it was finances that kept me home, and I feel like that is the #1 reason why many students decide to commute to school as the costs of living and room & board at many universities is just out of control.
But right not you're not thinking about the cost. All you can think about is how all of your friends just left you and suddenly you're stuck at home with no friends and you feel just as alone and vulnerable as a new kid who just transferred to your school halfway through the year.
Unlike many of your friends who are excited about their new situation, it's feels like the exact opposite for you. You might feel great disappointment, like you failed yourself for not figuring out how to go to a different school, like you could've worked harder, or saved more money, and suddenly you feel like you've made every wrong decision to get you to this point.
Trust me, I've been there. A year ago this time I went through these same exact feelings and emotions. I had just helped my girlfriend move into her dorm room around 2 hours north of me and when I came home I felt completely empty. I scrolled through my various social media seeing everyone moving into their dorms and already having the times of their lives and here I was feeling 100x worse than all of them.
I already had a distorted view of college, I was already against it and wanted nothing to do with it. I felt ashamed every time someone would ask me "where are you going to school?" and I'd tell them UC and I would almost see the "oh, well that's fun I guess" look on their face. All of this came crashing down on me in the first couple weeks and I felt miserable, almost sick.
But like any emotional spiral, time heals all. Almost immediately I found two people who were in all of my classes that I ended up becoming friends with. I was able to pick up a super cool job that was able to distract me from everything and also make some money while having a good time with awesome co-workers.
I enjoyed being done with class at noon and being able to come home and do anything I wanted. When my car broke down several times, my parents were right there to help me fix it, or give me a few bucks here and there when I really needed it. The way they saw it, they were (and still are) willing to help me out a little bit since they are tied down to any loans and my tuition cost isn't that crazy every semester.
So basically what I'm saying is, it's going to be okay. Yes your college experience isn't going to be the same as your friends, but in many instances I think it will be better. You can still spend all the time you want on campus, but with the added bonus that you can leave and go wherever you want whenever you want.
Once you realize how much college really costs, you'll be glad you stayed home and will only be a totally manageable 20k in debt compared to the 80-100k in debt your friends will be paying off until they die.
You can still have tons of fun at college and go home and sleep in your bed at night. I suggest joining a club or a sport, join something that will keep you around campus and get you involved with others.
Try to not just go to class and bounce every day. Hang around, go to the rec center, have lunch with some friends. Invite some out of town people to do popular things around your city. Your entire college experience is up to you. And when your friends come home for the summer, you've got a solid 4 months to hang out with them until the cycle repeats itself.
So if you're feeling beat up or upset about staying home for college, perk up. It's really not the end of the world. Give it a few weeks and you'll discover how much fun college itself is, and how much fun you can still have while not paying an arm and leg to live there. Instead of sulking about what you don't have, make the most of what you do have, and I guarantee you'll be happy with your decision.