College a time for new experiences, not more of the same

The past 12 years of school have led us to this moment: your senior year. The days of naptime are long gone, and soon we wave goodbye to the familiar friday night lights. The next steps will most likely determine the course of our lives, or so we are told. But how are we supposed to jump into the ‘real world’? The possibility of college is daunting enough, but the possibility of leaving home, our hometown, or even the state does not come without fear or apprehension.

Growing up in a college town, students have to put up with the incessant question: are you going to Texas A&M? Many students say they want to get as far away as possible, but end up changing their plans. Even more have dreamed of attending the university since before they could remember. Either way, the majority of high school seniors stay put instead of leaving home for college. This poses a problem that only the students themselves can prevent.

College is a time to leave home, to explore new places and things, and meet people you’ll know for the rest of your life. Most importantly, however, it’s the chance and duty incoming freshmen have to grow up and prepare for the rest of their lives. Learning to be self-sufficient is a skill everyone has to have, and living a phone call away from the parents who raised you doesn’t really give college students that chance. Studying, working, and living in the same town you grew up in might not give the full college experience fellow students will be having who did leave home.

Of course, financial circumstances determine many things about college, and leaving your home or state might not be a plausible choice. Texans who are a part of the top 10 percent of their class are fortunate to have automatic acceptance to public state schools. By working hard and making good grades in your four years in high school, you are almost guaranteed a higher education within the state. Certain universities are exceptions to this rule, but not every state offers such a helpful incentive for good academic performance.

For some, this is just not enough, and state schools only serve as a backup plan. If leaving the state is a long-time dream, getting the financial means can be difficult. Sometimes seniors don’t open their eyes to the opportunities before them, but ‘senior-itis’ often gets the best of us, but resources, scholarships, and financial aid opportunities are plentiful, making paying for out-of-state college manageable. This applies for in state colleges too, but when you cross the Texas border into the rest of the country, the tuition seems to pile up. Out-of-state and even private universities attainable goals if students take full advantage of everything in front of them.

The pros of staying close to home are most often the contributing factors that students and their families consider. Frequent family visits, the security and comfort of knowing your surroundings, the considerable amount of money you’ll save, and of course, bringing home your laundry every week. These pros can far outweigh the cons. When it comes to out-of-state college, the cons can be harder to reconcile with. Pros of leaving the state for college include learning self-sufficiency, experiencing new cultures and cities, the opportunity to learn your strengths and weaknesses without your parents’ direct guidance, and simply the excitement of the unknown. Negative sides to moving far away are obvious: long distance relationships with friends and family can be hard to maintain, not knowing anyone, and possibly the most scary of all, growing up.

Either growing up and accepting responsibility or the failure to do so will make or break your success and future success no matter where you go to college. Going to college means being on your own, but that is only practice for your adult life, where you will be the only one calling the shots.