Most times when people talk about going to college, they’re excited about attending a university very far away. People always hear that it’s good to move away from home and expand your horizons. Going to college somewhere else has always been a good thing, allowing students to leave the nest and become adults on their own in a new environment.
According to the Fall 2017 Enrollment Facts provided by Georgia Southern, 90.3% of students are in-state, meaning that the majority of GSU students live locally to some degree. Most of us pay in-state tuition and live one to four hours away from home by car. We can visit as often as we want and essentially live in two places at once.
By that logic, people argue that those of us who stay local aren’t living up to our full potential. Contrary to that belief, going to college close to home can actually be a good thing.
Even if you go to college an hour away from home, it is still an opportunity for you to meet more people your age. Opening yourself up to new people allows the opportunity to make friends with similar interests as you and create bonds with them that last the rest of your life. This is true whether you live at home, in a dorm or in an apartment. College is an opportunity for new, life-changing experiences no matter where you live.
Additionally, living at home can be a smart financial choice. Money is tightーespecially for college studentsーand finding the least expensive way to live can be important for your health and the debt you may inevitably fall into for the sake of education. Commuting from home can be the best scenario as you can essentially live for free with family you already know and can count on.
The most important thing about staying close to home is that it allows you to keep your existing support system.
A support system is a network of people that you can turn to for emotional and practical support.
Having a support system is essential to leading a successful and healthy life on campus, especially if you struggle with finances or mental illness. It is important to know that people are available who you can go to if you need help, and, in most instances, it is good to know that those people are close by should an emergency occur. Feeling a decent amount of security and comfort with the benefit of a support system can help you flourish in your new college environment.
“Well I knew it was gonna be a lot different than high school,” said a freshman civil engineering major Nicholas Lee when asked about his budding college experience, “it’s easier to reach out to family [in-state] because if you’re driving it’s not that far.”
According to an article by the University of Buffalo, having a robust social network has been proven to increase health, lifespan and reports on higher wellbeing. That is because friends and loved ones can help you in difficult times, whether you are aware of it or not. They can help you in a variety of ways, including becoming an audience to listen to you, allowing you to feel like you have a voice and are being heard. This relieves mental stress, which has been proven to wear on the body.
Having friends and loved ones hold you accountable for your goals and responsibilities is also a good way to keep you motivated. For example, agreeing to go to the gym with a friend makes you more likely to go to the gym just so you won’t inconvenience or disappoint your friend. If you live close to home, this can equate to your parents encouraging you to make good grades and do well in your academics.
“College was more of an expectation for me rather than anything I was necessarily looking forward to… my expectation was more that I didn’t have expectations,” said Connor Thomasson, a senior psychology major, “There’s cost and closeness to home rather than being out-of-state. It feels more familiarーit’s not a completely radical change in environment.” Thomasson went on to encourage people to be open to their friends and family about their problems. Your loved ones can’t be your support system if they don’t know anything is wrong.
For those of you who come from out-of-state or need advice on maintaining a support system here in Georgia, here are some tips on what to do:
It is important to find ways to meet people, especially ones who have similar interests and values as you. Volunteer, find events, clubs or sports that you’re interested in and go to the meetings. Odds are, you’ll meet at least one person that you have something in common with. It may not happen right away, but small talk is a good way to start.
Even if you don’t know a person very well, it is important to show appreciation for them if they show interest or concern in your life.This builds respect and a stronger bond between you.
Being available for others is also important in building strong relationships. Be open to text, call or be there in person for someone who needs you. It means a lot to people when they know you’re willing to be there for them whenever they need you. It means a lot the other way around, right? It just shows you care too.
Honesty also builds trust and allows for you to get to the root of any problems you have. Additionally, talking about availability and any comfort boundaries can help all parties involved. Find out what help is available, what they can offer and when. Even just communicating on the go a few minutes between classes can be helpful.
Not everyone has the same needs and limits, so be aware of who is comfortable with what and accommodate them accordingly. Don’t push people too hard to share their feelings with you and make sure you share your feelings with someone who is ready to receive them. There is such a thing as doing too much at once.
Some people are awkward and intimidated by sharing their problems with others. It is important not to rush others (or yourself) and just allow things to progress at a natural, comfortable pace.
Educate yourself on your needs and make sure to tell people how they can help. You can also recommend others to do a bit of research on their own. It may also be important for you to research things you can do for your friends or loved ones. This way, everyone gets something they need that helps rather than something with good intentions that has disastrous results.
At the end of the day, it is good to make the best of your college experience. Go to whatever college you want, even if it’s close to home, and do your best to make a healthy living environment while you’re there.
If you feel like you are having difficulty adjusting or need someone to talk to, visit the Counseling Center or the Academic Success Center. GSU has many resources to help you have the best college experience.