My Friends Are Going to College Close to Home. Should I?

Trendsetting never looked bolder

An NYU student sitting in front of suitcases in the truck of a car.

 

Each year, my high school releases a map of where the graduating seniors are heading off to college. While the map looks slightly different each year, most students end up at schools in southern states, such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. This observation makes sense. According to a 2016 statistic in a Brookings Institute report, 56.2 percent of first-year students attend college close to home.

Share of first-year college students attending college close to home.

For many, geographic location is the determining factor for where they spend the next four years of their life. So, when you’re presented with two college options—one close to home or one located across the country—which one should you choose?

I was adamant about my decision to study far away from Georgia. At the time, I was only considering three locations: Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC. (My lovely college counselor begged me to apply to one in-state school just in case things fell through. After months of back and forth, I waived my white flag of surrender.)

However, my plan to attend a distant college was uncommon. Only a couple of students at my high school attended a school far away. Although my parents were accepting of my college aspirations, they encouraged me to think carefully about my decision.

My dad advised me to do my research and get a clear understanding of what I was getting into, so there would be no surprises. For me, that meant navigating what college would be like during the winter. What would campus be like when the leaves have fallen and there’s not an iced coffee in sight?

Whether via an in-person campus visit or a virtual tour, there are many opportunities to learn about campus life at NYU. No matter your ability to travel, NYU provides the necessary resources so that any student feels well equipped to make a decision come May. These resources include opportunities to connect with admissions counselors and current NYU students, like myself!

To start, I recommend checking out this Admissions Ambassador’s virtual tour of Gould Plaza.

Thank you, Jaylen!

Reflecting on my NYU journey, there is one piece of advice I received during Weekend on the Square that I’ll never forget. At the time, we were a bunch of unsure high school seniors. We named the places we had traveled from in order to share the weekend together. Some students came all the way from San Jose, while others had just taken a train from Philly.

In his welcoming remarks to us, Jonathan Williams, Assistant Vice President of Admissions, said the following:

“In between your comfort zone and your panic zone is your learning zone.”

He didn’t need to say much after that. I was so moved I called my grandma to give her the A-OK to put down the deposit. And the rest was history! Four months later, I packed my bags and moved 900 miles away, and I didn’t look back.

 

A student standing in front of an NYU sign.
Taken nearly two years ago, I had no idea how much this photo would change my life. I went from being an undecided high school senior...
A student standing in front of an NYU sign.
...to now having the best job in the world: being able to articulate the joyous experience that is being an NYU student to undecided high school seniors just like I was. #FullCircle

NYU has given me the agency to pursue dreams and opportunities that I had previously thought were out of my reach back home.

Sure, there have been times where I felt panicked. (Like when I ran out of dining dollars halfway through October because of my Starbucks obsession. Or when I realized that Tisch Hall and the Tisch Building are two different places.) But there have equally been times where being far away from home made me open to the unknown. I’m not searching for places of comfort, and I feel encouraged to encounter new situations with ease.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely things that I miss about going to college close to home! I’ve missed out on formals, football games, and being able to see family on the weekends. However, I knew that attending NYU would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to broaden my worldview. Having lived in the same state my whole life, I wanted to break away from the beliefs and judgments I had about the world. I was searching for a place where I could constantly become a better version of myself. For me, it was NYU, but that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone.

 

So, if there’s any piece of advice I could end with that’s half as valuable as Jonathan’s, it would be this: Go where you will grow.

The future is in your hands; make the most of it.