Only one in five students travels more than 500 miles from home to attend college, and a full half are going to schools less than 100 miles away. While there are many reasons for keeping the home–school distance a drive-able one, sometimes great schools are disqualified out of fear.
A college education’s benefits might be clear—acquiring knowledge and job skills being two obvious ones—but the college experience itself can be life-changing. Navigating a campus, managing one’s free-time and balancing it with the demands of school work, negotiating a cramped dorm room with others—these are the types of challenges that prepare students for life after college, no matter where their coursework takes them.
But in addition to these day-to-day experiences of adulthood, there will be times where “things happen” that necessitate a trip home—whether it be a student’s illness, or a family member’s; an unexpected family obligation; or simply the need to come home for a school break. The skills needed to negotiate the hurdles of air travel are ones almost everyone will use often after graduation, and mastering them while still in school is a great confidence booster and maturity builder.
Certainly traveling back and forth to school by plane is more expensive than by car, but often these costs are offset by the merit aid given by schools interested in a more geographically diverse population.
Be very choosy about what schools you apply to, and strive to find the best fit for your particular interests, personality, skills and goals—but consider using a wide-angle lens to include schools not reachable by car. By not doing so, you may be missing out—not only on an enormous number of great college choices, but also on all the benefits gained by being that much more independent.