One of the biggest factors in a college search is deciding how close to home you want to be. For many students, attending a college far from home is the whole point of going to college-being out on their own and making their own way and learning how the world works for themselves, etc. Others feel just as strongly that there's nothing to be gained by going to college hundreds or thousands of miles away from their friends and family, and choose to attend a local community college distance learning program. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. Sometimes, of course, the student doesn't have much choice in the matter. This could be the case if a certain college is offering a college degree program that few others offer. Or if a particular school is offering an extremely generous financial aid package in the form of scholarships. In cases like these, there would have to be some heavy duty mitigating factors to choose another college. But usually the decision is not quite that clear cut, and is quite a mixed bag. That's when the student has to get out their thinking cap and give the matter some thought.
Writing down the pros and cons of each choice on paper can help to crystallize one's thinking. Are a lot of my friends planning on attending a certain university? Or are they scattering to the four winds, and I'll be by myself no matter which college I choose? Except for location, are the schools pretty much equal in other respects? Or are there some glaring differences, such as better lab facilities, which mean one might be a better choice overall? If I attend a distant college, will I need a car? Will I need a car if I go to school close to home? Are there any pressing family situations, or the likelihood of one coming up, which would mean you're needed closer to home? Attending college near home while caring for a sick family member can mean the difference between getting a college education and not getting one. Another factor is how often do you want to be home? Will you be happy seeing your parents and siblings and extended family only on semester breaks? Or will you want to be home some weekends, too? If so, attending a college that's more than a couple hundred miles away will be a real hindrance, especially if you don't have a car. Another big consideration is money.
A student can save tens of thousands of dollars in room and board charges over the course of their college education by living with Mom and Dad, if they're amenable to it. If they're willing to help out, that's a huge factor to consider. Many college graduates say they regret taking out so much in college loans, and wish they'd done more to cut expenses. Living at home and attending a local college or university can be an excellent way of cutting way back on college costs.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013