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Possibly very stoopid question: going away to college


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This has been bugging me, so I'd be extremely appreciative if someone could have mercy and tell me the answer,

 

What is the big deal about going away to college?

Why do so many young people do it, and what is wrong with doing your higher education locally?

Surely with the soaring costs of getting a degree, it would make sense to stay at home if the course you want is available near where you live?

Is it because independence is so highly valued in American culture?

Or maybe because some colleges are so much better than others, so it's crucial to choose the best one you can get into?

 

(Here there are lots of people who do uni in their home town. If you go away, it's likely to be because your family lives way outback where there isn't a university, or because you want to go somewhere that is known for specializing in the degree you're taking. But it's not (afaik) seen as being any better or worse.)

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Hmm... I'm not sure if I can express this correctly. I do think independence is part of it. Finding the right college for the student is a piece of the puzzle too, not all American Universities are equal.

 

When you go away to Uni, you start over. You make new friends and you must rely on yourself instead of parents. It is a huge step in developing a self identity.

 

My parents always told me I "had" to go away to school. Not because they didn't want me home, but because they wanted me to start a new life as an adult. I didn't really understand, but I did it. Now I want the same for my kids. I gained so much by going away, and the local kids at my Uni did not gain the same things. They were not part of the Uni community. They were not independent from parents.

 

We have at least 5 Universities within 30 minutes of our house. I will encourage my kids to take some classes there while they are in high school. One has a program that is well regarded in what my dd wants to do. I have not decided how strongly to push her to go somewhere else where she would only get an equivalent, not better education for a higher price. For ds, although there are 5, none would give him an exceptional education. I would prefer he went somewhere that would.

 

Does that help?

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I left home at 17 and never returned. If I had to live it all over again, I would do it the same way. For myself, instead of thinking what's wrong with people who leave home and go out on their own at an early age, I think why the heck would you want to live with your parents when you're an adult???? :confused::confused::confused:

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Where and when I grew up, you had to go away if you wanted a 4-year degree.

 

We'll see when the time comes, but we're blessed with a community college nearby that has very solid transfer programs and a number of well-known universities within an hour's drive. If the programs at those schools are a good match, mine will probably live at home and go to college to save $$$. Finances will be the biggest factor, but we'll see. I'd like for them to avoid loans if they can.

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IMO, going away for college began when there weren't as many colleges and kids had to leave home to attend one.

 

I worked as a dorm Resident Assistant when I was in college and I can tell you first hand that many of the freshman students who come are woefully unprepared to handle the discipline and rigors of college life. Although homesickness was a factor, the major factor was those kids who had lived sheltered lives before college who wanted to try every thing they thought they had been missing in the first month on campus. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll don't even begin to cover the scrapes I had to help extricate the freshmen from. (Think gambling, sex with minors, selling prescription medicine, stealing, etc.)

 

Going away to school can be a wonderful way for a child to experience a somewhat controlled version of the world at large. It's like real life with scheduled meals, work where professors instead of bosses are there to help guide and keep an eye on progress - or lack thereof, with a built in social scene and many age appropriate activities.

 

All that said, I would not encourage dd to "go away" for college unless she really wanted to do so.

 

ETA: I think that kids who are trained in a high degree of independence at home during the high school years will do fine at college, whether local or not. However, if a kid has not had to do their own laundry, figure out their own finances, meals and work schedule, then going away where no one else will do that for them can definitely help them grow up. Unfortunately, not all kids are able to handle the responsibility well when it is handed to them completely and abruptly and crash and burn when attempting it.

Edited by hillfarm
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I think it totally depends on the child, but I do see more maturity in kids that leave home than those who don't--not right away, but by the time they are Seniors, say.

I think it has to do with mixing with other people, and being exposed to a larger world than your family and local friends. I think college is much more about that than about academics. I realize that sounds backwards, but there it is.

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Although homesickness was a factor, the major factor was those kids who had lived sheltered lives before college who wanted to try every thing they thought they had been missing in the first month on campus. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll don't even begin to cover the scrapes I had to help extricate the freshmen from. (Think gambling, sex with minors, selling prescription medicine, stealing, etc.).

 

Honestly, that sounds like the high school I went to! :(

 

I went to college in Chicago and just lived in an apartment. I didn't see ANY of that. I just went to class and worked.

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For the group I know, the answer is to get away from their parents. A large group of my dd18's friends are attending a school that is 4 hours away. There were about 10 of them who chose to go to the same school so they could stay friends. They put a great deal of thought into what school they would attend because it had to be as far away as possible but still be a Georgia college so they could have in-state tuition.

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What is the big deal about going away to college?

Why do so many young people do it, and what is wrong with doing your higher education locally?

 

There is nothing wrong with going to a local college. Ime, the kids who lived at home did better academically and still had fun.

 

We're encouraging our kids to live at home and attend the excellent state university. Why should they rack up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans just to play at being independent? College is not exactly real life, imo, and they have the rest of their lives to live independently (hopefully ;).)

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My DD25 left home at 17 and went to UN- Lincoln, 9 hours away. She stayed there 2 years. She was successful and liked everything about the school. What she didn't like was being so far from her family or the student loans, (She did have a substantial partial scholarship but still..). She decided to come home and finish up at our local University. She didn't move back in, but rented an appartment with a roommate.

 

Once her younger sister graduated high school, DD25's advice was to stay local. She felt like moving so far away and paying so much money was dumb and not worth it. She felt like her education at our local university was just as good and in some cases, better. If she had it to do over again, she would not have gone. The romance of "going away to college" was not all it was cracked up to be for her.

 

My kids are very independent and mature anyway, so moving away to gain independence and maturity has never been a factor. We raised them right. You can grow up and enter the next stage of your adult life even if you live with your parents or close to them. You can be an immature, irresponsible, idiot living far from home. It's all a matter of choices.

 

DD19 did stay home (literally, she still lives with us). She's a sophomore and doing well. She's an adult and functions as one, taking care of her own business and making responsible decisions. She is the most mature 19 year old I've ever met, a fact that is verbally and regularly confirmed to us by many other adults who know and interact with her. She doesn't hang out much at school because most of the kids are well..... either drinking or having sex and she's not interested in either at this time in her life. Imagine if she were living so far away and that was the only social outlet available. Here she has her family and her church and local friends. We are able to be a loving support for her now. She plans to move into an appartment during her Jr. year.

 

I have many, many friends whose children went away to school and bombed.

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For me it was something that most of my older siblings did and I just assumed was the way that it worked. The greatest reason though was to go to a private religious school where I was surrounded by those of the same belief, something that I didn't have to the biggest extent growing up. I also knew that if I were to get married in college I wanted to marry someone of the same faith, and there was the biggest "pool" to choose from there.

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For me it was something that most of my older siblings did and I just assumed was the way that it worked. The greatest reason though was to go to a private religious school where I was surrounded by those of the same belief, something that I didn't have to the biggest extent growing up. I also knew that if I were to get married in college I wanted to marry someone of the same faith, and there was the biggest "pool" to choose from there.

 

These may be good reasons to go "away" to school. If I could have afforded it, I would have liked to send my kids to a private Christian university.

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I left home at 17 and never returned. If I had to live it all over again, I would do it the same way. For myself, instead of thinking what's wrong with people who leave home and go out on their own at an early age, I think why the heck would you want to live with your parents when you're an adult???? :confused::confused::confused:

 

Dd18 would answer that question. A few weeks ago she was thinking of moving into an apartment with friends. Then she got really sick and was out of work for a week. It totally messed up her paycheck and she was stunned into reality when she realized she wouldn't have been able to pay for all the things that would have been due in the next week had they really moved. She got scared knowing she really wasn't ready and thanked me for treating her with love and respect because the other friends she has are not as fortunate. I do treat her as an adult and I don't see any reason she needs to hurry and get out. She's got more adult perks living at home that we can't extend to her when she moves out. Just comparing car insurance sent her into shock. Yikes!

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I suppose it would depend on what's available where you live. We moved to a home that is a drive from one of each kind of university out dc could want (large state schools, small private schools, etc.) They won't need to leave home for that reason. We can happily pay for any of these options. If they want to leave, they will need scholarships. Right now, no one has any interest in leaving, but if a great opportunity opens up, with a great scholarship, at another school, that might change.

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Our reasons are a little differnt. IF we are still living here, we will send our daughter away for college because the local U is simply not acceptable in any way - not that good academicically, and an absolutely abysmal rate of campus crime. Who would want to send their daughter to a campus with one of the highest rates of rape in the country??? Nope. Not gonna happen.

 

But that is why we are always talking about moving! We would love to give her the option of living with us while she attends college. Personally, I think "maturity" and "independence" have some overlap, but are not necessarily synonyms. How mature is it to make a choice that will leave you saddled with a tremendous amount of debt at the start of your career? I'm generally a pretty optimistic person, but the future of America's middle class looks pretty grim to me right now. And I would hate for my daughter to start her adult life with that kind of disadvantage. Obviously we will help her to the extent that we are able to, with regards to her college expenses. But we are a single-income middle class family. Our resources are limited.

 

When I was 18, I very much wanted to get away from my parents. I am sincerely hoping and trying to raise my daughter in such a way that she will not feel the same. I want her to have the option to stay with us. Ultimately, of course, the choice will be hers.

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I think fit is everything. If you stay home and hate it, you need to figure something else out. If you go away and are drunk each day and don't do your work, you need to reconsider wasting your money.

 

My oldest is headed to Europe for study, and that expereince is better for his partciular needs, although it's not going to be the right thing for all students. I wouldn't want him to miss out on something like that.

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When I was looking for colleges, I literally applied to three and chose the one furthest away from home. I needed to break away from my Mother and I did not want to attend the local schools with the same people I saw every day at high school. I ended up coming back home after college because I did decide that I didn't like being 1200 miles away from my family. However, I learned so much about life and myself and am absolutely better for the experience. I do however owe $45,000 in student loans.

 

Now, with my children, my husband works for a local university and our kids can go there for practically nothing. We will encourage our kids to go there however, I am not opposed to them living on campus. If they decide to study something not available there, then we will look elsewhere. It is just too good of a deal for us to pass up.

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We live what most people would consider the lifestyle of a traditional farm family. From the time the boys are old enough (about 8yo) they are up and out of the house by 6:30 a.m. to feed calves and do other necessary work. They come back in the house at about 8:30 a.m., at which time they (theoretically) do schoolwork until 3:00 p.m., and then they go back to work until about 6 p.m.

 

In reality though, it's always been a struggle to get the boys in when they're supposed to be studying. There really, truly is *always* work to be done on a fully functioning farm. We milk about 1400 cows, farm about 500 acres, raise all of our own young stock, maintain our own machinery/equipment, and spend plenty of time attempting to comply with CA regulatory requirements (sorry, I know that's a separate issue! :D)

 

I love the fact that my dh has this work ethic that is so strong that he has to force himself to take time off for rest. I'm very glad he's taught that to my boys/young men. At the same time, my college-age ds was working upwards of 35 hours per week as well as taking a full load at the community college. Still, when my dh sees a young man sitting, even with an open book, his mind tells him that that's a young man who has extra time on his hands and needs more to do. :001_huh: Very, very difficult to succeed at academics in that situation.

 

My ds earned his AA from the community college as a dual-enrolled student during high school. I encouraged him to transfer to a small, private university that's just far enough away that he lives in dorms, rather than the large state university that's within a 45 minute drive.

 

Ds is at the tail end of his first semester at the university, and has succeeded with his 18 units, and is very happy at having the opportunity to study for a while without as many distractions. He is close enough that he can come home on the weekends (to work and visit), but far enough away that he's not encumbered by quite so many work hours, and he gets to manage his time, money, and personal details, mostly on his own.

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Hmm... I'm not sure if I can express this correctly. I do think independence is part of it. Finding the right college for the student is a piece of the puzzle too, not all American Universities are equal.

 

When you go away to Uni, you start over. You make new friends and you must rely on yourself instead of parents. It is a huge step in developing a self identity.

 

 

I think you expressed it very well. I am the youngest kid in my family but the first who went away to college. My mother and I were basically co-dependent (hate that word but it seems to fit). The emotions I felt when she dropped me off and drove away were so raw. I felt sad, guilty (she was widowed so I felt like I was abandoning her) and extremely homesick. But I didn't go home until Thanksgiving that year and I survived it. I made new friends...I had to since no one else from my high school went to the same college. And man, was I ever obnoxious at home that first Thanksgiving! If I could I would go back and smack myself for how I behaved. But, I think it was to be expected.

 

So that was definitely my first step toward independence and finding out who I was. I was no longer my brother's sister, I was ME. I started thinking for myself and came up with some startling revelations (not all in college, but leaving home for college started me on that path). And my high school friends would not recognize me today. I was very competitive and driven in high school, I had to be the best. But college completely mellowed me out. I just wanted to succeed (since no one else in my family had gone to college, I didn't know what to expect and was afraid I'd flunk out. That didn't happen, I graduated with honors). I just don't know that I ever would have become who I am if I had not gone through that.

 

I would venture to guess that you do not need to go away to college to experience this (perhaps moving away to work somewhere would be the same, although the nice thing about college is you have a huge group of people who are the same age as you and going through some of the same basic life changes as you, so I think that helps in knowing you can try on some different hats and still be okay). I also realize that my situation was unique in a lot of ways. Some students know exactly who they are at a much younger age, and that's cool.

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Some people expect something. Some of my classmates had some romantic idea about going to another part of the country, blah blah. However I think many people end up with something less dramatic, like a community college. Definitely given the cost, and the fact so many people work part time, or go back to school later in life, clearly things have changed or will soon.

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My son decided to stay home. The College he wanted to attend is only about 30 minutes away by bus, so that was a deciding factor. It saves us a ton of money. As far asindependence goes, I guess he must feel he gets what he needs. I try and treat him like an adult, but I nag more about picking up after himself than a dorm mate would!

 

Other friends went away to college. Beside the independence, I think it is the adventure. A new place, surrounding. SOme kids, due to scholarships, actually found it cheaper out of state.

 

I guess I'm basically in the do what works for you camp. But I wouldn't want my kid to take on debt that was going to be a burden later, just to prove their independence. It doesn't do them ay good to live on their own in college, but then have to move back home because they can't afford to pay their bills due to debt.

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I guess I'm basically in the do what works for you camp. But I wouldn't want my kid to take on debt that was going to be a burden later, just to prove their independence. It doesn't do them ay good to live on their own in college, but then have to move back home because they can't afford to pay their bills due to debt.

 

:iagree:

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For me, it was totally independence. I loved/love my parents, but I was ready to do things MY way. College was absolutely the best time of my entire life. I was responsible, learned a ton, went to classes that were SO interesting and not a waste of time with other people who enjoyed learning. I did tons of extra-curricular and learned to juggle time commitments and actually dated. It was GREAT!! I learned that you can be good friends with someone and yet they aren't a great roommate fit. I learned different ways of splitting up expenses in an apartment and how to live off a budget, how to cook, how to do laundry. And unlike now, I was only responsible for me. I can handle that.

Christine

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Imagine if she were living so far away and that was the only social outlet available.

 

 

 

I am absolutely not questioning your family's decisions, because they are yours, but just for the sake of fair representation, at most any university you can find fantastic social outlets of friends who share your values.

 

I went to a university with over 40,000 students and the largest per capita beer consumption in the U.S.

 

Many of my friends were church friends who never drank, and we spent our spring breaks at children's homes doing whatever manual labor needed doing. I was a resident advisor in the dorm for a couple of years, and I did see every form of screwed-upness that exists on college campuses, but there were a lot of very interesting people who with exciting plans for their lives who were working hard to achieve them, too.

 

It's a false idea that every student on every campus is drinking, drugging and sexing all the time. There are many, many students who are serious about their studies and not so involved in those activities. Those activities just get all the press.

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Interesting.

 

It actually does make sense that college isn't just about academics, and it's viewed as a stepping stone between being dependent on family and making your own way in the world.

 

Although, re being an adult, many people aren't really adults at 17 or 18. Some students work their way through, but if the parents are paying for a teen to go, then it's not real independence, is it? I'm not necessarily advocating staying in the parental home longer (I stayed until I married at 22, and that was a mixed blessing), but I just see going on to tertiary education and moving out of home as two separate things.

 

I am gathering that the differences between universities are much greater in the US. Here, there are some institutions that might have a particularly good reputation for particular subjects, but overall we just don't have that graduation from Ivy League to average to degree mill or whatever. All the universities are pretty well respected.

 

Obviously the circumstances will be different for ever student, but I felt as though there was some degree of disdain being expressed towards those who don't go away.

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Why should they rack up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans just to play at being independent? College is not exactly real life, imo, and they have the rest of their lives to live independently (hopefully ;).)

 

:iagree:

 

For me, going away to a university was in no way the start of my adult life. The start of my adult life was when I graduated and moved away with my first full-time job. College wasn't even good practice. It was like a distortion.

 

Even if they choose to move away, I would prefer for our kids to go to a school that does not have on-campus living and a big campus culture, or at least where the choice to live off-campus is left up to the students (no requirement to do time in a dorm). There are several schools like this near us. I attended three of them myself for some graduate classes. The focus at these schools is very much academics. IMO removing the whole campus-life culture with all of its distractions and distortions of "independence" makes the academic part easier to accomplish.

Edited by laundrycrisis
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:iagree:

 

Even if they choose to move away, I would prefer for our kids to go to a school that does not have on-campus living and a big campus culture, or at least where the choice to live off-campus is left up to the students (no requirement to do time in a dorm). There are several schools like this near us. I attended three of them myself for some graduate classes. The focus at these schools is very much academics. IMO removing the whole campus-life culture with all of its distractions and distortions of "independence" makes the academic part easier to accomplish.

 

My experience as a college instructor has been exactly the opposite, FWIW. Although it's admittedly hard to make direct comparisons -- the more selective schools also tend to require that undergraduates live on campus for at least some part of their time there.

 

(Just as an aside, a development person once told me that students who spent time living in a dorm donate much more as alumni than those who lived off-campus, which is one reason why schools invest in dorms and require on-campus living.)

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The trend I've been seeing for the past few years is that more and more kids are staying close to home. Other parents I talked to while my son was doing his college search commented on this, too. It seems that harder economic times have contributed to a desire to stay closer to home on the part of kids (and parents who perhaps lost money in the stock market or who have lost jobs may need kids to choose less expensive and closer to home options, too)....

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My experience as a college instructor has been exactly the opposite, FWIW. Although it's admittedly hard to make direct comparisons -- the more selective schools also tend to require that undergraduates live on campus for at least some part of their time there.

 

I am not talking about selectivity - these schools were not hard to get into. And frankly a school's selectivity is not something that impresses me, ever. I am talking about the attitude of the kids on campus. While I attended these schools I noticed that all of the social cliquey stuff and posturing that went on at the big university I attended was completely missing. There was none of it !!! They came to class, paid attention, asked questions, and were very serious. The quiet places on campus to study were just that. At the big university I attended, the distraction of the social environment was everywhere, all the time. It was like high school, on a much bigger campus. Perhaps that is why about 50% of the freshman there don't return for their sophomore year - they don't make it academically because they are so drawn into the campus social scene and having fun and being cool. When I returned to school as an adult, to schools with very little campus culture, I was in classes with freshman and sophomores again, but this time, there was no social scene, and it was a much better environment for learning.

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I can't see how it could possibly be worth that much extra debt, to go somewhere "away" just for the sake of independence from your parents a few years earlier. Once can be independent and live at home or nearby.

In Australia it's normal for kids to go to uni close to home and to be somewhat supported by parents. Many also share houses with other students and live independently...we don't have student accomodation at universities like they do over there. Students generally need to find their own accomodation and support themselves. In recent times it has become more common for young people to stay home into their twenties.

It sounds like a lifestyle thing, and a cultural thing, but I dont understand why young people would want to enter their adult life in any extra debt than necessary. I guess if parents can afford it, its fine.

Once teens turn 18 or so there is a general understanding that they are now adults, and if living at home of course they need to abide by the general rules of the home,and it is common for them to have to pay board to their parents if they work, but they have their freedom as adults.

I guess I dont relate personalyl because I left home at 16 and barely saw my parents for years, so I didnt have a normal (or healthy) transition to adulthood. I intend to support our kids for as long as they need us though, unless their behaviour warrants pushing them out of the nest for the higher good. Both are fiercely independent and confident people though...it's not like they are goign to be hanging around much for security, afraid to move out. It will be more likely they will move out as soon as they can reasonably afford to.

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For me, it was totally independence. I loved/love my parents, but I was ready to do things MY way. College was absolutely the best time of my entire life. I was responsible, learned a ton, went to classes that were SO interesting and not a waste of time with other people who enjoyed learning. I did tons of extra-curricular and learned to juggle time commitments and actually dated. It was GREAT!! I learned that you can be good friends with someone and yet they aren't a great roommate fit. I learned different ways of splitting up expenses in an apartment and how to live off a budget, how to cook, how to do laundry. And unlike now, I was only responsible for me. I can handle that.

Christine

 

:iagree:

 

I was generally more mature than most of my peers in my small-town high school, and I couldn't wait to get to college to be with people who enjoyed and valued learning and looked beyond the next party or ball game. I loved my parents and had a good relationship with them, but I was ready to be out and ready to be part of something bigger. I commuted my first year (local school), but no one really cared to become friends with commuters because the lifestyle is pretty different from the on-campus lifestyle. I moved on campus my second year, and college was everything I hoped and expected it would be. I even met my best friend there (my first and only roommate and current WTMer :D).

 

I completely agree that if a child isn't ready to move away for college or the finances can't be worked out in some way, living at home is an acceptable and possibly even desirable option. But if I can make it happen, I'd like for my girls to have the experience. My college years were some of the best of my life.

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(Just as an aside, a development person once told me that students who spent time living in a dorm donate much more as alumni than those who lived off-campus, which is one reason why schools invest in dorms and require on-campus living.)

 

I can see that. Interesting.

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It's not always a "massive debt or live at home" thing. I live close to two highly selective private universities. I know many kids who lived at home while taking out loans to pay tuition to these private schools. Some of them graduated and are paying back their loans. Others got sucked into the home drama and dependency (or the comfort of their "work through college" jobs), failed to finish school, and are deferring their student loans while they wait tables.

 

I went to a school four hours away from home, but the cost of tuition plus room and board was less than just the tuition of a private school. It was an incredible school with a great reputation, but public and in the middle of nowhere. Just like with the private school, some kids did fine and are paying back their loans, and others dropped out and struggle with debt and no degree.

 

I had the same problems of a difficult relationship with a single parent and being a first-generation student that other posters had. I really didn't have a choice but to leave home, or else continue to live in an emotionally and academically unhealthy environment. My brother stayed home and didn't even make it through one semester. It's easier to swim through water than mud to get that degree.

 

For the record, I had nearly a full ride, but took a small loan my senior year to avoid working while completing recital/research/portfolio work. Personally, I would recommend music majors avoid working during the school year, whether living at home or on/near campus. Too much practicing, too many "zero or 1 credit hour but meets 3-5 days a week" classes, too many recitals and concerts missed because of scheduled work.

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