Scared to go to an out-of-state college

I found a school that I am very interested in but it’s out of state. I live in PA and it’s in IN. I seems really great but I don’t know how I would be able to deal with the nerves of being alone in a new state. I don’t like to be away from home. I don’t really know what to do at this point and whether or not I should even apply.

forgot to mention the school is Earlham College


Apply so you keep your options open. It’s only a one-day drive at most, right? And you wouldn’t be alone – you’d be with roommates, classmates, members of the clubs you join… If you like the school, apply. If you get accepted, you can always turn them down later (don’t ED).


So Pittsburgh is 4.5 hours to Earlham, closer than it is to Philadelphia. I don’t know where in PA you live but Earlham may not be that far.

Agreed to apply. Many kids go to college an hour from home - and never go home.

What is it about Earlham that you like. Is it the Quaker or the size?

For size, there’s lots of LACs in PA or close - and you can find other small ones.

Have you visited Earlham? Have you visited any close to home? It’s great to find schools on paper but it’s best to visit if possible.

Many kids have home sickness when they go away - and then one day it’s gone without even realizing and many could never imagine being anywhere else.

it’s tough being young, close to family and imagine being far away. But with today’s phone technology, mom and dad are always with you if you need them.

Best of luck.


I agree that you should apply and at least give yourself the option. Just imagine if you didn’t apply and were full of regret about what might have been.


Apply! Earlham, btw, is such a wonderful and nurturing place, and the classroom experience there is very good. If you get in, you can visit. You don’t have to decide yet.

As you think through this, distance from home is one variable, but how well you like where you are is another. My kid would have been happier at Earlham than Penn State because of the size, for example, even though PSU was closer.

Can you say why you are so nervous about distance from home? You may also be able to work out solutions to some of your concerns and even “practice” them now. Face-timing a friend or relative might make you comfortable with that technology, which is a great one for folks you can’t see in person.


Like everyone already said - Apply anyhow (non ED). Cross the bridge when you come to it.

Unless you were planning to go to a school and commute (which is A-OK if that was your intent!) you need to ask yourself what really the difference is if you’re an hour away from home or 5 hours away from home. Sure it’s less convenient to go home or have someone visit but it’s not a huge hurdle.

If you have anxiety about generally just “being away from home”, now is the time to talk to someone about it - maybe professionally. You have a 7-8 months before you need to commit to a college and that gives plenty of time to get some of those things sorted to make a less emotional decision.


Earlham is a great small college. If you want that type of college, there are a lot of small colleges in PA as well. What is is about this school that you do like?

As noted, a college out of state in some places might actually be closer than some that are in PA for you.

How far do you want to be from home? And why? If it’s truly fear that is keeping you from going far from home, I would agree you want to address that soon. As noted….if you live on campus, it doesn’t matter if you are 10 minutes away or 10 hours away. You still won’t be home.

And agree…you can apply to Earlham and apply to some other places as well. This keeps your options open until you have to choose a college to attend. But that’s not until the end of April of your senior year of high school.

Are you currently a high school senior?

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P.S. if you really don’t like to be away from home, you have a couple of real choices:

  1. Find colleges that are close enough to your home to commute.

  2. Understand that living at college is a good step toward living independently at some point. It’s a medium. You don’t have to worry about rent or making meals, etc. BUT you are living somewhere other than your home with your family.

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At a private out-of-state school such as Earlham, it may be beneficial to you to note that you would be joined by students from other distant states, such as Texas, New York, California, Maryland, Oregon, Colorado, Geogia, Virginia and Massachusetts, along with others from Pennsylvania.


My two cents is you can apply or not apply as you see fit.

If it is causing you anxiety even to apply, then I would not necessarily recommend trying to fight through that. And as others have mentioned, we can probably help you find alternatives if you would like.

But if the idea of applying while keeping open the option of not attending even if admitted works for you, then that is fine too.

Edit: By the way, it looks to me like Earlham’s RD application deadline is March 1. Given that, you really should not be letting this bother you at this point, whatever that means for you.


I agree with others about going ahead and applying this year. The time that you would actually be leaving to start college is almost an entire year from now and you possibly be more ready to be away from home then you think you will.

I also wanted to throw out another option, which is to apply, get in (hopefully), and, if you’re not feeling more ready to be away from home at that point, but still really like the school, request permission to defer your admission for a year. Earlham’s website contemplates that as a possibility (as do many schools): How to apply : Earlham College. If the deferral is granted, then take the year after high school to have some away-from-home experiences and try to start feeling more comfortable with being away. Lots and lots of kids take a gap year after high school and before college (my son included) and there are also many programs geared towards high school kids who take a year off, ones where you could sign up to be away from home for anywhere from a week to several months. Or, if you’d prefer something less structured (or that costs less) maybe there’s a relative or family friend you could stay with for several weeks or months away from home and you could get a job, or do some volunteer work.

If you have anxiety or another mental health reason why being away from home feels so challenging, there are many programs and therapies to help with that, and you could also use the year to work on that. Many many adults and kids struggle with anxiety and there are therapies and programs that can really help.

Either way, you’re not on a schedule, and you should not feel like you have to be ready to be away from home at age 18. If you need to, give yourself the gift of time. But, if you’re truly excited about Earlham, then don’t give up on it now just because you’re not sure you’ll be ready next year.


Totally agree with the above. But at some point in life you will leave home. Why not, when you start college?

Have you ever lived away from home like a summer camp?

New experiences are scary. But it’s scary for lots of students. When your with other like minded students, many scared to be away from home also, then all of the sudden… It doesn’t seem so scary…

If you have a chance to be away from home now then do it. Relative in another state that you can stay with while you visit a campus…?

I would actually start locally. If given permission by your parents, can you visit a local college… Roughly the same size… By yourself? Take a school tour. Sometimes if a smaller school they will invite you to lunch and /or to shadow a student. You can request the shadowing. This will just give you a clue of a students schedule.

Or, pick sometime that you can take yourself out to lunch, when many students are around, and just walk the campus. Get a feel for it. By yourself if this makes sense.

This will help break your anxiety. Sometimes they will allow you to sit in a classroom. Go for it.

Have your parents show you how to cook somethings for yourself. How to do your own laundry. Becoming more independent can help break this cycle of it being scary when being away.

Small steps now will lead to larger steps later on.

You got this!