This is the time of year when juniors tend to kick off the college process. During their first meeting with their Apply Right counselor, we ask them, “have you thought about where you’d like to attend college?” We ask about the size of the school they would prefer, what they’d like to study, etc. And then we ask, “Do you know where you’d like to be located for college? What part of the country/ what state(s)? And, in my experience, around 75% of students say, “Someplace warm!”
This is a bit of a change in the world of college counseling. It used to be that we would have to encourage students to consider schools far from home. Parents and students were apprehensive about being far away. But that doesn’t seem to be the case much anymore. Perhaps students are more experienced travellers, and don’t mind planes or long car rides. Perhaps they have seen other areas and caught the “travel bug.” But I think one of the main reasons we get that answer so often is because of the time of year we ask it. January-May in most parts of the country is notoriously cold. The snow, sleet, rain, and cold aren’t always super fun (unless you’re a skier perhaps). So, when I talk with students in March and ask them, “Where do you want to go?” it’s really no surprise that they say, “Somewhere warm!”
The college process is a little more complicated when students are interested in schools only far away from where they live. For one thing, parents aren’t always as thrilled with the idea as students are, so those family discussions can be tough. Additionally, getting to the colleges to tour them and visit them is more difficult. Rather than driving to a nearby city to see a college on any given Friday afternoon, parents have to plan flights, rental cars, hotels, etc to visit colleges far away, which often means time off work and/or school.
But, many students are still eager about attending college far away, and parents seem to be along for the ride (no pun intended). We have many students attend colleges in California, and other southern and mid-atlantic states each year. A few inevitably transfer back somewhere closer to home, the grass turning out not to be greener just because it’s sunny there. But, the vast majority of students stay at their school the entire time and love it.
So, if your son or daughter answers you with “Somewhere warm!” here is some practical advice to see you through:
- Really try to visit the schools if possible. The culture in the “deep south”, for instance, can be very different for kids who have only ever lived in New England, and visiting is the only way for a student to truly get a sense of the school culture and students.
- Thoughtfully and carefully plan far-away campus visits.
- It’s not unfair, nor unusual, for parents to insist that their child apply to one or two “local” schools. Family circumstances or personal circumstances can change and students may suddenly decide that they really want to be close to home for college.
- Talk with your child about the realities of going far away for college. How often are you willing to fly them home? How often can you visit them? How is the culture different in the new area and how will that mesh with their personality?
All parents want their child to be happy at the college they attend. But, distance can be a complicating factor. Apply Right can help parents and students work out this issue and more to ensure that the college application process is less stressful for all involved. Call us today for a free consultation.