Out-of-state college: Leaving the nest

As your high school seniors consider taking flight from the mother nest, the common debate of staying home for college versus going out of state commences. Since the latter has become increasingly popular, basic questions and concerns may ruffle your feathers. How far is too far? What if costs are much more expensive? Isn’t it easier and less stressful to keep your youngling close by?

First, talk to your kid. What does he or she want? My sister, for example, wanted to stay in Miami where she is happily attending the University of Miami. I, on the other hand, excitedly trekked toward snow-infused South Bend, Indiana. Although your children’s desires may need to be negotiated due to financial restrictions or some of your other concerns, it is important to make this decision together.

If your kid wants to stay local, don’t fight it. My advice would be to let them bloom in their home community, pushing them to make new friends, join new clubs and to perhaps consider allowing them live on campus. Push them to grow away from staying at the maturity level of a high school student.

If your child decides to go away to school, breathe! They are more mature and ready than you may think they are. If what’s scaring you about sending your kid off to school is that they might get into too much trouble, consider this: I know some students that have stayed local and others that go to school three airplane flights away from home. The vulnerability of succumbing to peer pressure exists within the child, not within the school. If you’re going to get a call from the police station, it would have happened regardless of where your child went to school.

If the accumulated costs of your child going to college away from home are too high, just tell them to apply to a school farther away, but still within the state. Florida is a reasonably large state. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship requirements are reasonable and can save you money as you send off your child to a “home away from home.” You can have the distance without the costs.

My final advice? First, apply to schools and wait for acceptances. Once you have real options, explore the opportunities. Make a decision together, one that makes you comfortable and allows your chicks to spread their wings.

Carolina Wilson is senior class president Notre Dame and plans to attend a journalism graduate program after graduation. She may be contacted by addressing email to cwilso16@nd.edu

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