What is Really Behind the Desire to Stay Close or Go Far for College?


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Megan White, Writer

There are many different reasons why students go to college where they do: academics, money, family and friends, majors, and so on. But is there a way to classify what types of students tend to go far or stay close? Do extroverted students travel far, whereas introverted stay close? Or visa versa?

Mrs. Millard, a guidance counselor at Pentucket, claims that “there is not really a method to the madness.” She sees a 50/50 split between Pentucket students wanting to leave or remain local. It is interesting to note she has not seen a correlation between higher GPAs and college locations within Pentucket students. 

While there might not be an academic correlation for Pentucket students, there are many reasons relating to family, curiosity, and character. Millard says, “Some kids just want to get as far away from family as possible.” Not everyone has lived in an ideal family situation, so living in a new location can be very beneficial and refreshing. 

On the contrary, she also spoke of many students “who really want to go far but might not be successful over there, especially without the option of being able to just go home for the night.” Those who do choose to go further for college will have to be prepared to not see family as often and learn to create a family around them in their new location.

As mentioned above, one of the recurring aspects that drives one’s geographic desire is family. Julia Johnson, a senior at Pentucket, offered insight as someone who is close with their family. In the fall of 2021, Johnson plans to attend Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts to major in interior design.

When asked about her choice to go to Endicott, she spoke about her family and mental health. Johnson said, “I like having the choice to go home if anything was to go wrong and to be able to see my family more often than not.” She followed up by explaining, “I think my anxiety also played a role in my choice to stay local. I possibly would go away but it just wouldn’t be the best choice for me.” 

In some instances, teens are not ready to be a plane ride away from their family or friends. All over, teens face issues of being homesick or uncomfortable in a new surrounding without familiarity, so it is extremely common for teens to stay close to home for their college education. 

Family is not always the driving reason for college location. Others seek the experience to travel and immerse themselves in a new culture. More insight was discovered while speaking to a student who attends college in South Carolina, moving all the way from Groveland, Massachusetts. Maddi Doyle, a part of the 2019 senior class, has been going to Charleston College for the past two years. Charleston, located in South Carolina, gave Doyle the ability to learn about Southern hospitality and living. 

Doyle said, “Being from the North, you always hear about Southern hospitality and Southern living, but you do not quite get it until you live in that environment.” Having exposure to a new culture can be very beneficial to teens who feel the desire for new experiences and opportunities to build their personalities.

When asked to provide two reasons on why she chose to go far, she replied, “First of all, to be in warmer weather, and second of all, to experience a lifestyle I had never experienced before.”

In addition to wanting to explore new scenery and lifestyles in college, teenagers can also have access to financial support. Doyle explained, “College is really the last time where I have the opportunity to go somewhere new with financial support from my dad.” The factors of money and support from parents is another potential explanation for college students and their locations. It is hard to predict what one will be doing after college, so when the opportunity is given to travel with financial support, many take advantage.

On the topic of financial support, there is an immense gap between in- and out-of-state tuitions; the cost of tuitions is a huge driving factor towards college decisions. According to College Board, the average cost for a year of out-of-state tuition and fees is $23,890 annually, while the average cost of in-state tuition is $9,410. This creates an estimated gap of $10,000 between in and out of state tuitions which will often be more. 

Given these points, there is no doubt that there are common factors between students and their choice of college location. However, the outcome of where they choose to adventure is more so based on character and lifestyle desires rather than education.