right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

The Distance Question: How Far Away From Home Is OK?

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley 6084 replies100309 threadsFounder Senior Member
Whether you are in the final stage of choosing where to attend or just starting to build your college list, one question that is bound to come up is distance. While some students and parents have the attitude that one should pick the best fit school, regardless of location, I've seen all kinds of strategies that revolve around location. For example,
1) No school farther than a couple of hours away by car to allow family interaction to continue during the school year.
2) No school within a half-day's drive to discourage excessive parental visits and/or weekend trips home.
3) Only in-state schools.
4) Only out-of-state schools to avoid college seeming like an extension of high school.
5) Only distant schools likely to provide a very different environment from home, e.g., urban vs. rural, West Coast vs. Midwest, etc.

This isn't a new issue. Years ago, a friend of mine's dad said he'd pay for college only if my friend went out of state. He wasn't trying to get rid of him (I don't think), but wanted him to have a different life experience.

What's your distance strategy?
131 replies
· Reply · Share
«134567

Replies to: The Distance Question: How Far Away From Home Is OK?

  • washugradwashugrad 1117 replies13 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We live in CA, so East Coast is a *long* plane ride. My oldest is a senior and initially I wanted her to consider East Coast and midwest-with-a-decent-airport schools just to have enough options, but she is pretty particular about climate and really wanted to stay on the west coast. She hasn't made her final decision but her top 3 are all about a 10 hour drive/ 1.5 hour flight from home. I was a little bummed that she didn't get into the other good choice that's 2 hours drive from home, but this will be fine.
    I'm still okay at this point if my younger kids want to go further, but quite happy if they don't.
    · Reply · Share
  • PlannerPlanner 586 replies31 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited March 2015
    Good for you, @minohi, and congratulations on getting into your dream school!

    As for us, we didn't place any distance restrictions on our son—any and all schools were fine with us, though we definitely would prefer that he stay within California. It's his life, so he should be able to choose where he goes to school. That said, I do think some locations, especially those in California, have a very strong appeal for many students. And other locations can end up being a major hassle travel-wise (and expense-wise)—definitely something to consider as the student contemplates making that trek 2-3 times a year. My sense is that being within, say, a day's drive (or less) of the student's college can be very helpful, not only for moving the student in and out each year but also for occasional visits during the shorter school breaks, such as over Thanksgiving.
    edited March 2015
    · Reply · Share
  • OsserpusserOsserpusser 314 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    We believe it totally depends on the child. We have 2 sons thriving well out of state, both at the perfect school for him respectively. Our daughter is not as mature nor as academic, so we'd like her to stay in state (and she wants to). The only place it matters is if there is no OOS aid at a school and it's not in your budget OR if it's so far away that holidays home are an issue and a huge expense.
    · Reply · Share
  • profparentprofparent 331 replies0 threadsRegistered User Member
    Many years ago, when I was applying to colleges, I insisted I wanted to get out of the country for a different experience. My mother talked me into the opposite coast being far enough away for independence and an academic adventure. Similarly my husband, from Canada, went to college in the US for a change of pace. Now, our DS is choosing colleges and is adamant that he wants to stay in state, no more than 3-4 hours from home. We are both delighted and perplexed, but are respecting his wishes just as our own parents did.
    · Reply · Share
  • lauriejgslauriejgs 360 replies66 threadsRegistered User Member
    My D does not like to fly, so she ruled out any school more than about 300 miles away. It wasn't a hardship, as we live in NJ and are within 300 miles of tons of schools. That said, she was not interested in staying in NJ. She will be in upstate NY.
    · Reply · Share
  • zobrowardzobroward 3741 replies193 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    minimum 100 miles! that way you do not run home every time you hit a rough spot in a relationship, class etc...
    · Reply · Share
  • learninginproglearninginprog 1092 replies33 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We never placed any mileage on kiddos. We actually expected them to spread their wings as far as they could and they did.
    · Reply · Share
  • giterdonegiterdone 1398 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2015
    Money, of course, is a consideration. So, reciprocity between neighboring States (or lack thereof) was a factor. Beyond that, we had a pretty hard and fast 500 mile rule. Even though we toyed more with that boundary with S'15... he, on his own, found his way into our State Flagship.
    edited March 2015
    · Reply · Share
  • SephardicJewESASephardicJewESA 177 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My parents nor I cared about the distance at all (thank god)
    · Reply · Share
  • 2wuhanmom2wuhanmom 142 replies81 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My oldest is a junior at a university that is a two-hour direct flight from home. In theory this is quite manageable, but in practice not so much. Over the past three years the number of direct flights has fallen dramatically while the cost (of course) has gone up. Then there are the hassles of storing belongings over the summer. For my younger child we will be aiming for a college within driving distance.
    · Reply · Share
  • leftygolfleftygolf 19 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Both of my sons wanted to stay within a reasonable driving distance and applied almost exclusively to schools within a 5-6 hour radius. I would say that 3 to 4 hours away is optimal. Close enough to visit them on rare occasions and for them to come home once or twice per semester.
    · Reply · Share
  • pinkwhiteredpinkwhitered 66 replies26 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 2015
    I only applied to East Coast schools - mainly in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. From the get-go of my college search, I knew that I wanted to attend an Ivy League university, and I am happy to say that I have been admitted to one and I will likely attend. That was really the focus of my college list, and luckily, I already lived on the East Coast.

    Besides that, I knew I wanted to be in or around New York City, where I've grown up for the past 17 years. It's a marvelous place to get an education with its array of museums and attractions. There is really no place I would rather be.

    My parents had nothing to do with my college choices. Nothing at all. My mom said that if I wanted to apply to Stanford or UC Berkeley, then that was fine by her. But I knew I wouldn't attend either of those school, even if I were to be admitted. I would have to fly just to visit the school, which is annoying. And there are hundreds of colleges of comparable quality here on the East Coast that's there was really no point to looking anywhere else. Is rather just drive to my college.
    edited March 2015
    · Reply · Share
  • giterdonegiterdone 1398 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    And there are hundreds of colleges of comparable quality here

    That's one of the reasons for our boundary. Not as a "limit" but rather, to provide a guide and focus and respecting what we (from experience) know is pragmatic. If any one of our DC felt it was a problem? they could've tried to negotiate an expansion. Neither did or tried. And I think for obvious reasons.
    · Reply · Share
  • spacelover17spacelover17 108 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @minohi‌ I'm sorry your relatives reacted like this :( I know how you feel. When I got accepted to my dream school (Caltech), my mother was very happy (even though she'd been the one in the beginning of high school to want me to go close to home). However, my father was quite upset. Though he didn't say anything directly to me that weekend, the atmosphere at home felt like we were in mourning rather than celebrating an honestly unexpected achievement. I understand myself that distance and cost are important issues to consider, but with all the academic pressure put on me since I was young, I've become adverse to the idea of going to a state school (unless I lived in California and could attend UC Berkeley or the like). He'd hoped I'd get into MIT so that Caltech wouldn't be a question (and I would've been very satisfied with MIT), but I got rejected. And most importantly, Caltech has been my first really selective school that I've been accepted to. My self esteem was in the dumps for the last few months, but Caltech brought me out of it, and I was bummed that at least half of my family couldn't appreciate that aspect. But if I had other comparable and more financially wise options and then I still insisted on Caltech then I could still understand his complaint. But Caltech has been the only really selective university I've been accepted to with a top-notch physics program. Until I get in anywhere else, can't they be happy about what I do have? My aunt (my dad's sister) didn't even congratulate me. She just said "oh, I'm sure you'll get into a good school on the East coast" and is hell-bent on convincing my dad that Caltech is an awful place (like insisting distance is a bad idea, citing examples of a girl who fainted at home because she didn't eat enough at college and saying thank goodness that girl commuted, claiming Caltech has a 85-15 guy-girl ratio, etc.). It's making spring break at her place quite torturous, and I'm incredibly saddened by this.

    Sorry for the rant. The emotions were just building up.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity