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Would it make any sense to live on campus a mile from home??

TCMomTCMom 38 replies8 threads Junior Member
edited January 2008 in Parents Forum
My D is a junior & in the process of putting together her list of colleges to consider. She's got great stats, is very mature & she's always planned to go away to school. However, the more she talks about what she's looking for in a college, the more it sounds like she's describing Macalester, which is literally a mile from our house. We've tried to find something similar (liberal, urban, politically active, multi-cultural) in another city, but we haven't been able to come up with much. First, if your child was accepted to his/her dream school - which happened to be close to home - would you allow him/her to live on campus when home is so close? Or would you encourage them to live at home for a couple of years & then get an apartment? Also, does anyone have any suggestions for other schools to consider? The others on her short list (which don't necessarily meet the criteria I mentioned above) are Northwestern, Wellesley & U Wisc. She plans to double major in French & International Studies/Relations.
edited January 2008
39 replies
Post edited by TCMom on
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Replies to: Would it make any sense to live on campus a mile from home??

  • maritemarite 21343 replies243 threads Senior Member

    My S is living on campus about a mile from our home. He is in his third year and plans to be on campus all four years, as do most students at his college. There are lots of things happening on campus every day, as well as in his House (dorm) apart from the friendships he is able to maintain by sheer fact of living on campus. He has some discussion sections around dinner time, some labs are scheduled for the evening, there are "tables" on certain days of the week where students can practice their foreign language over dinner or listen to talk about their subject.

    For her intended major, the schools on your D's list sound good. She could consider Chicago as well as Georgetown. If she likes UWisc, what about UMich? Would she consider Reed? Portland is a very livable city.
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  • zebeszebes 1255 replies71 threads Senior Member
    We live within 10 minutes of the campus my S decided to attend, and he lives on campus in the honors housing. I actually encouraged him to do this ... not the honors housing, per se, but living on campus. We have had grandparents living with us since 2002 (on our 4th and last, actually, who is stage 6 early alzheimers (65 years old)), and our kids have been faced with a great deal of their care, as well. I felt it was important that DS get away from that and have the opportunity to be 19 without the additional committments he's had. Also, he has a tendency to be a homebody, and I wanted to encourage greater independence, which he has found living on campus. He's enjoyed meeting new people, has great roommates, and has broadened his horizons considerably. We realized that if he'd gone out of state or to any other university, in fact, we'd have paid housing costs so I didn't want to pull that away from him because he decided to attend the local university.

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  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions 12571 replies759 threads Senior Member
    Don't know about the majors, but some of the atmosphere she seeks is present at Smith College (Northampton, MA) or Amherst College (Amherst, MA). THese are smaller schools but are in a five-college consortium so the sum is greater than the parts. (Smith, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and UMass at Amherst). All are connected by a free bus, and courses can be taken from all campuses (although there may be limitations on the UMass students to enrol in some courses at the other 4 colleges). Best of both worlds; a smaller school within a three-community student population of 30,000 or so in the "Pioneer Valley." City of Northampton and Town of Amherst are two very progressive communities, politically. Since she's already ready for Wellesley, perhaps Smith or Mount Holyoke (both all women's colleges) might please her.

    It's probably too liberal for her, but Oberlin might be worth a look, for its progressive history and diverse student body. No cities (well, there's Cleveland but the campus is a good half hour away). It doesn't matter, because Oberlin is a large LAC (at 2800) including a top quality music conservatory. The school itself generates an enormous amount of activity and people stay put to enjoy a tremendous resource right on campus.

    Has she considered anyplace in Washington, D.C. or Canada? Am thinking about the French and the International Relations majors, obviously. Georgetown, American U, York U, McGill..?

    Finally, consider Brandeis U, outside of Boston, a small university with academic strengths in international relations, political science and so on. WHile in that neighborhood, look at Tufts for its international departments.
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  • momof2incamomof2inca 3419 replies65 threads Senior Member
    I don't think it makes sense from a financial aspect, but finances aren't everything in our family, and I would definitely encourage/insist that my S or D live away from home for college. I did. H did not. Our college experiences were as different as night and day. Mine were far richer and I became more independent and confident faster. Of course, he might not have been "ready" to live away from home, so that is something to consider, too.
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 threads Senior Member
    I would definitely allow a child to live on campus a mile away; dorming and relying on oneself every day adds another dimension to the college experience. I don't think it matters if the school is only a mile away if she really loves it. Why should she have to give up her first choice? And look at it this way, your transportation costs are really minimized.

    S has a friend a Williams whose parents live in Williamstown, more like 1/8 a mile away. She always loved the college and is a wonderful resource for the other kids. She has promised to teach my S to ski during Winter Study.

    If you are looking for another school with those attributes, yes, I agree with Marite's suggestions and add Barnard. Living in NYC has been an entire education for my D.

    Macalester has wonderful study abroad opportunities; if it were my child I would make it part of the deal just to ensure she has a different experience for one semester or a year. And study abroad augments her major.

    I would also suggest Tufts even though it is not right in downtown Boston.
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  • tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threads Senior Member
    We live about half an hour from Macalester. Emeritus professor of mathematics Wayne Roberts is a friend of mine now, after I took a summer course there. Your criteria are "(liberal, urban, politically active, multi-cultural)," and I'm trying to think what other colleges would fit. I guess I don't know as much about the "liberal" or "politically active" aspect as I should to advise on other choices, but maybe look at

    Barnard College (New York, NY) ***
    Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) ***
    Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA) *** (as mentioned)
    Pomona College (Claremont, CA) ***
    Reed College (Portland, OR) ***

    I mention these names because although I think Macalester is a fine college, I STRONGLY advocate going away from home--the farther, the better--for all of us Minnesotans who already know God's Country :) and as a reality check on my understanding of what those other colleges are like. (I know other participants will respond to this thread, and then I'll have a better understanding of what the Macalester-like colleges elsewhere are.)

    Enjoy the cold weather tomorrow. January thaw coming by the end of the week, I hear.
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  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon 11830 replies298 threads Senior Member
    OXY,OXY,OXY (but I really like Macalaster, too.). Now that I have that out of the way, ;)

    One of my favorite college stories is about a brother and sister I know. The sis went to college first. 2 and 1/2 hours by car from home. A close family who always did things together, they worried. Their D was home every other weekend. Bro goes to the uni nearest home. About 20 minutes away in traffic. They saw him on Thanksgiving day for the first time (and for the last time before Christmas). Sometimes it's not the miles that create the freedom.
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  • tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threads Senior Member
    But miles can help people meet people from other places. Macalester is a very likeable college, but it's better for students who didn't grow up in Minnesota, because they will meet lots of people from a new region there, and live in a new region. We have to keep State U in mind as the safety here (it is closer to my place than Macalester is) but I'd much rather have my oldest and each of my other kids go much farther away to college. They already know Minnesota.
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  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon 11830 replies298 threads Senior Member
    TA, I agree it's preferable but hey, all things considered....
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 threads Senior Member
    I guess I am one of those provincial east coasters, although I would have been thrilled had my kids gone further. I was actually rooting for Macalester for D and UChicago or USC for S. But both stayed close. NYC is about 2 hours from us, but I was born there, numerous relatives and D danced there. That's what let her know she needed to be there.

    S is about 4 hours from us, just at the tip of our frequented locale and 15 miles from where his grandmother grew up in Bennington.

    So although I dreamed of them going further, it doesn't really matter. New region, not new region. Each is having many new experiences and getting to hug them and return home the same day is a great luxury.

    Ironically, S is meeting more kids like himself at Williams than D is at Barnard. Most of his friends are from NYC and Cali, whereas hers have been from all over, Texas and Georgia in particular.

    There are many things to explore: deep into academics, profound friendships with other people, new geographies or new geographies of mind.

    As Lao-Tzu said, "Whether a man sees passionately the surface or dispassionately the core, surface and core are the same, wonder naming both." So for me, if the young woman loves Macalester, love should be the guide. "Follow your bliss" says Joseph Campbell. Bliss, not shoulds, I think help life develop though unfolding. But that's just my philosophy.
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  • FlutemomFlutemom 94 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Hi, I also have a daughter that is a Junior. She is planning on a double major in International Studies and Spanish. She recently started entertaing the thought of adding the possiblity journalism in the mix.

    We also live in Minnesota and are about 1/2 hour from Macalester. So far it is my daughter's first and only real firm choice for a Mn school. If she were to end up there...she would definitley live on campus. She is ready to branch out and live away from home and I think she will benefit greatly from that.

    Her #1 school choice is UChicago. She is also investigating Reed and Oberlin.

    We were just talking today with this cold weather coming in...that I think that she should go somewhere warm so I have a warm place to visit on those parents weekends lol.
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  • mom11111mom11111 12 replies4 threads New Member
    I echo many others in that I believe it's a great benefit to live away from home. Another school which meets some but not all on your list is Tufts. Both language and IR are strong programs, just outside of Boston. Good luck with your search!
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  • MotherOfTwoMotherOfTwo 2045 replies65 threads Senior Member
    My daughter started as a freshman at a school 500 miles from home but was not happy there. She transferred to a school 45 minutes from home which is a much better fit for her and had a wonderful sophomore year there. Distance from home was not a factor in her desire to transfer or her choice of schools. Her school has students from all over the U.S. and the world, and she is happy that she is meeting students from many other places even though she is close to home. She specifically did not want to attend a school where most students come from the same area where she grew up. We actually do not see her much more now that she is at the closer school, but we are able to attend performances and Parents Weekend more easily, and getting home for breaks is obviously much easier logistically. She spent last summer in Taiwan and the fall semester in Beijing, and will be returning to her school for the second semester of her junior year later this month, so it will be nice to have her a little closer this spring.
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  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 4333 replies82 threads Senior Member
    There are so many experiences as a freshman that are a part of living away from home- making friends, learning to live with others, managing your own time and stuff - that it makes perfect sense at least for freshman year. After that, if you both decide it is better to change, then at least the experience has been a part of the decision. My sister moved back home after freshman year, but still says she learned a lot living away as a freshman that she would not have given up.
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  • StickerShockStickerShock 3712 replies69 threads Senior Member
    liberal, urban, politically active, multi-cultural) in another city...French & International Studies/Relations
    NYU fits the bill. (You didn't mention size --- I know it's worlds apart from Macalaster.) NYU has a campus in Paris & there are never problems with interruption of one's course progression or credit acceptance when studying abroad. There would likely be loads of internships available in her field, too, with the UN and all the embasies & international corporations in NYC.

    As to studying so close to home: I think it all depends on the child. A homebody type might use the proximity as a crutch, and you don't want to encourage that. Yet like Curmudgeon, we know kids who attend schools less than a 1/2 hour away, and their parents rarely see them at all.

    As far as seeking a different, new experience & environment, I would listen to Token who knows the school well & is recommending a more distant choice for your D. But whatever you choose, let her live there!!! I didn't have that opportunity because of a chronically ill widowed mom & heavy family responsibilities. I wound up with a very different college experience, and I want my kids to have the luxury of living away. D's #1 school, by the way, is only ten miles from our home, and we've already decided that she will live there if it's where she winds up. And this is the fiercely independent kid who always said she'd head overseas for college. Who knew?
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  • bethievtbethievt 6591 replies168 threads Senior Member
    Two options to look at are Lewis & Clark outside of Portland and Goucher outside of Baltimore. Both are highly internationally focused--Goucher REQUIRES time abroad, I think the only US school that does. These would be good "safety" schools for your daughter, would probably offer merit $$ and would get her to another part of the country. Both have pretty campuses, but Lewis & Clark's is absolutely gorgeous. Mac is a wonderful school too and I agree she could have a great experience there and feel separate from home if she lives on campus.

    Reed, while a great school, is less internationally oriented. Only 25% of students study abroad, we were told.
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  • MichaelNKatMichaelNKat 4359 replies58 threads Senior Member
    TCMom - My daughter, who is a freshman, was in the same dilemma. The school she concluded was the best choice for her out of all her acceptances is located 12 miles from our home and 1 block from my office. She had other acceptances in the same type of programs from 3 1/2 hours to 6 hours away but the best school for her that matched her needs and fit her the best, that she wanted to go to the most, was the one that was a 5 minute walk from my office and a 45 minute commute by car from our home.

    We felt strongly that attending the school she felt matched her best was of paramount importance. So she goes to that school. At the same time, we felt it important that she have the experience and independence of living in a dorm and as part of a college campus community. There is important growth that comes from that. It also enables a freshman to better immerse his or her self in college life. The residential college experience is a lot different than that of a commuter. At the end of her freshman year, she will be moving out of the dorms and into an apartment (as most residential students at this school do).

    The proximity has its fringe benefits. We are able to see our daughter and have dinner with her whenever we all choose to do so. It's nice to be able to do that but we have the kind of relationship with her where we can get together without her feeling that we are being intrusive. In this kind of situation its important to work out the "rules of engagement" in advance so that neither parent nor student feel that the proximity is stifling or intrusive. We let her seek us out and otherwise treat her like she is 6 hours away. We are all very pleased with the way this has worked out and have no regrets about her either attending school so close by or about her living in the dorms her freshman year.
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  • StickerShockStickerShock 3712 replies69 threads Senior Member
    I believe that MichaelNKat's D is a performer. That's another consideration. For kids who perform, or are athletes, it's certainly nice to know the family could still make it to shows & gigs & games. That's more for the family benefit, of course, but certainly quite a nice bonus that comes with the local choice.
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  • MichaelNKatMichaelNKat 4359 replies58 threads Senior Member
    StickerShock - That certainly is a nice fringe benefit, as is the ease of getting together for holidays and family occasions, coming home for school breaks etc. If our daughter had concluded to attend a school in upstate NY or Boston, we certainly would miss these opportunities! Also, my daughter was able to keep her weekend job as an entertainer/dancer for for a local DJ company that works Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet 16's, various types of corporate parties.

    However, in all fairness, proximity to home, while attractive for many reasons, was not the basis for our daughter's decision nor would we have wanted it to be. Having made that decision, though, and getting back to the OP's original inquiry, we felt it extremely important to our daughter's growth and experience that she not live at home but instead live in the dorms.
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    My son attends our state university, which is 40 minutes from home and on my husband's commuting route to his job. It would be very easy and convenient for my son to attend this school as a commuter. However, he has never done this.

    Throughout college my son has lived in the college community (he lived on campus his first two years, and now lives in an off-campus apartment), and neither he nor my husband and I would want it any other way.

    Although there are students from our immediate area (including one of my son's high school friends) who commute from home to the same campus, my son felt that he wanted the experience of living at college, and did not want to be a commuter. We saw no reason to say no to this just because the college he ended up at was nearby.

    If your daughter ends up at Macalester, I think that she will have just as good an experience as she would at a similar college farther from home, but with some extra convenience thrown in. My son, although he has been just as independent as his sister -- who attends a college seven hours from home -- has been able to take advantage of some things that only students who live nearby can do -- such as using the same doctors and dentist year-round and taking courses in the three-week winter session without having to look for a short-term sublet. Moving in and out at the beginning and end of the year has also been a piece of cake. We don't ship anything. We don't have to rent a larger vehicle. We simply make two trips!
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