Going to college out of state

I am considering attending a college 5-6 hours away from home. I just wanted to know how other students’ experiences were attending a school far away? Like how do you handle the long distance? Traveling? Doctor’s appointments? Any tips would be helpful.

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A lot depends upon whether or not there is public transportation home, or whether you take a car to college. Without either of those, it is unrealistic to plan to go home other than school vacations. Routine MD and dentist appts are scheduled for school breaks, and you use student health if you get sick at school.

If you feel that you might need to go home more frequently than school breaks and thanksgiving, you might be better choosing a school that is closer to home.


Distance depends on the kid - but don’t forget, while many get homesick, today you have a fun. And then phone can keep you connected, even visually.

As for doctors, etc. - we do the dentist on breaks - so the timing just works. Also, the annuals.

If you have a more frequent need, you might be able to time it or go home or you might find a local doctor near school. Also, school’s typically have medical centers although the hours may not be great or the availability of you to get in might not be great.

But if it’s just like annual things or teeth cleanings, you can schedule for when you’re home.

I have a car I plan on taking. I just wanted to see how most students dealt with such a long drive home. I guess 5-6 hours is not bad. Just wanted some insight on the experience.

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My kid attends a college that is 11 hours drive away, and around 5 hours by plane (no direct flight, and a 45 minute drive from the airport.

Doctors appointments can be challenging, but for doctors appointments that cannot wait until she gets home, she finds a doctor around her college, calls, makes an appointment and goes.

Travelling is a challenge, There is no direct flight, and she always has to find a way to get from the airport to the college.

However, if she had a car (and a license…) both of these would be far simpler.

We try to speak on the phone a few times a week. You just have to make time. Sometimes if there is a longish walk across campus, or something. Homesickness is going to happen, but that’s part of growing up. Living away from your family is a really good preview of being an adult. On one hand, you’re living away from your family and taking care of many of your basic tasks on your own, but, on the other hand, a lot of these things are still provided by the school, or from home.

Imagine if the first time that you left home was when you needed to start working. You have to deal with the emotional impact, while you’re also taking care of you living space, food, medical insurance, etc, for the first time. At the same time, you should be performing well at work. At college, you will only have to deal with a few of those things, and everybody will be homesick the first month or so, and colleges are set up with the understanding that this is how students are during their first month or so.


Both my kids went instate but even instate can be hours away, depending on how big the state is. Older went 2 1/2 hours + away, younger went about 5 hours away. It can be done, are you feeling anxious about being away from home? If so, that is not at all unusual. Check with your family about how they want you/them to handle medical issues, travel , etc. Colleges will have health services . If you happen to have a complicated medical history that needs monitoring, that could be more difficult. Good luck!


My daughter attends a school 6.5 hours away. She is home pretty much only for breaks and over the summer (and pretty soon, maybe not even that), but we text daily and have facetime calls 1-2x per week. We are a close family and she has two younger sisters. I think we all agree that it would be nicer if she was only 3 hours away, where a weekend trip home to see her sisters participate in their activities, etc., would be easier. However, she’s very happy at her school, loves her friends, and would make the same choice again. When evaluating schools, distance went on the con side, but there were a lot of pros to the school, so that’s where she went. I think you need to evaluate all the factors of a school. The reality is that unless you have a compelling reason to come home often, the longer you are away at school, the less you care about going home, and that’s as it should be. My parents didn’t want me to go far away to school, so I went to the state flagship, which was a great school, but then my dad wound up being transferred 1,000 miles away. I basically lived at school year round and only went home for xmas and a couple weeks over the summer. I was very close to my parents but I was also a young adult living my own life. I wasn’t unhappy although sure, I would have enjoyed seeing my parents more often (my brother was at the same school as me, at the same time, so I did see family). Distance often matters more to parents than to their kids. :slight_smile:

I am actually not too nervous. Just worried about the distance especially since my car is a little older, but it is reliable. My mom is concerned about the distance and feel uneasy, I do not know how to alleviate her fears.

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Sounds as if it’s your mom, not you, who is worried. Just tell her you’ll speak over the phone often, and be home for Thanksgiving and vacations, just as you would be if you were only 2-3 hrs away.

I think she is more worried about the actual traveling to the school and worries if I can handle myself, even though I feel confident enough to do so. I tried telling her I’ll be home for breaks and stuff. Not like I’ll be leaving forever.


One idea might be to carpool with another student who lives near you. The benefit to the other student would be the ride. The benefit to you would be having another person with you in the rare case of your car breaking down, having some company on the road, and also the other student maybe could pay the gas.


You can also check whether there is an organized bus for students to your city. I know a college about 3.5 - 4 hrs drive away has a bus for the students in our city / area for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Spring Breaks. The students are dropped and picked up at couple of locations.

Another school about 8 hours away has alumni association arranging the bus for Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks. If there is one, that might help alleviate your and/or your mom’s concerns.

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I brought my car to school my freshman year and I was about an 8-9 hour drive from home (San Jose to San Diego, in CA). The first time I drove home by myself, I was nervous. I had to drive through LA and boy, was I scared (LA drivers are different from other parts of the state, but that’s a whole other story). But I did it and after that, it was no problem. I even grew to love the drive and I have fond memories of my favorite music, pitstops and gas stations, views along the highway, etc.

My daughter is now in school about 6 hours away but she doesn’t have a car with her (freshmen don’t get parking). She flies between SFO and LAX/Burbank. She has been home for Thanksgiving, Christmas/winter breaks so far. She has needed a few doctors appointments in LA, but she uses our family’s health insurance and finds a doctor near her and goes. It’s been fine and a good “adulting” experience for her.

I agree that you will be fine going to school 5-6 hours away. That isn’t very far. With the car, perhaps take it in for an inspection before you head to school, replace tires and brakes if needed, and change the oil. Keep jumper cables in the trunk and learn how to use them. Learn how to change a tire. Do things that reassure her that you are prepared for any situation and maybe she will feel better :slight_smile:


Or/and have AAA or something similar for help on the road with any car issues.


I agree that you might want to see if there are buses or other ways to make the trip. Nothing wrong with driving, but a bus ride might make your Mom feel better (and you can study when in route). And carpooling with others who might be making the drive too might be a good option.

My daughter goes to school 18 hours from home so needless to say she doesn’t drive here. She flies home for major breaks and we try to go visit once a semester or so. She does most appointments on breaks and in the summer. When she has needed a doctor at school she has gone to student health and more recently has started going to doctors there. In fact, yesterday she needed to see a doctor about something simple and was going to go to urgent care but we found she could see someone virtually through our insurance and it took about 15 minutes to request the appointment and be “seen” and then they called a prescription in to the pharmacy.

Her school has a lot of students who are from out of state and even out of the country. We have found the parent Facebook page super helpful when we need recommendations for doctors, car repairs, etc. Local parents are always willing to offer advice (and assistance) if needed.

This is very good advice. Thank you. I have AAA as well.


I think my mom is more worried about how far it is. Like I can’t come home as often, if I need to. She thinks she won’t be able to visit. She’s probably worried I’ll need her or something will happen. I tried explaining to her, she’s just not listening. But I am going to try to give her more information. The school I want to go to is mid-size. I looked it up and couldn’t find any information on buses that would take me back home. That would be great if they offered that, so I’ll look into it.

I think the school has a parent Facebook page. Thank you for this advice. I’ll look into this stuff.


My son goes to school a 10 hour drive and a 2 hour flight away. He has a car at school that stays at school for the year and he flies back and forth. He only comes home for breaks and he has scheduled appointments for a chronic medical issue when he is home but we have found specialists near his school for emergency or urgent issues. When he once needed to leave quickly we got him a ticket and he was home within 6 hours of starting the process. The bus idea is a great one, also look into Amtrak and flying, it may make your family more comfortable knowing you can be home in a few hours by plane if needed and this can be arranged pretty quickly.

Sometimes it works out to have a car at college, but you end up taking the train, Plane, or bus due to other factors and the car stays on/near campus during the year. For a weekend trip you can get work done on the train instead of being stressed out driving.

I totally understand! I was nervous about my daughter being so far away and I think she was a little nervous too. But she’s a senior now and it’s worked out fine so far. Honestly for all of us it was probably best she go away. We are very close and talk often but I think this has helped her gain some independence.

If your mom can join the parent Facebook page, suggest she do so and ask parents any questions she has. And even if there are any transportation options. Parents usually are open to helping one another and giving advice.

Good luck!