Finishing high school is such a great accomplishment but before you’re out the door you’re bombarded with college applications and constantly pressured to jump right into college after high school. Everyone from your parents, your high school teachers and even your friends are pushing higher education down your throat and it has left a sour taste in your mouth. Sound familiar?

A gap year after high school isn’t uncommon. For a lot of us the threat of disappointing our parents or possibly losing funding for college is scarier than making the jump into a college when all we want is to go out on our own for awhile before falling in line for another four or more years.

Luckily there is a middle ground that will be sure to quench some of your thirst for wanderlust. Choosing a college away from home satisfies the parentals and the distance creates a space for growth, freedom, and a chance to find out who you are without the influence of friends and family. Here are 5 reasons why I think making the choice to leave home for college was the best choice for me.

1. Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
I grew up in a family of five. I could not wait to get away. I couldn’t wait to have my own space, my own things, my own schedule that didn’t revolve around anyone else. After a while being away wasn’t just good for my need for freedom and wanderlust it gave me a chance to miss those I care about. I had a chance to reflect and appreciate the quirks that make my family and friends so special. When I came back to visit, it seemed like I was not the only one either because it was always the best catching up face to face.

2. New Culture
The culture from state to state and especially coast to coast is so different. Choosing a school out of your comfort zone is necessary if you are looking to create unique memories of your own and meet new people. Going to a school with the same cultural ideals and ethnicities that you’ve been used to is not going to do the trick. Choose somewhere that will give you the opportunity to experience things in a whole new way.

3. Ability To Travel
Granted it’s not Europe or South America but it is still not the same town you grew up in with the same people you grew up with. If you took my advice you’ve chosen a school that has the atmosphere and people that will open your eyes to a whole new world of foods, traditions and people anyway.

4. Networking Is Key
Towards the end of your college career every advisor and professor will stress how important networking is in the professional world. Of course you need to be qualified for the job but if you have a reference from someone the likelihood of you landing that job rises exponentially. Leaving your hometown to go to college elsewhere creates an even larger umbrella of people you know that you can potentially use as future references.

5. Tuition Breaks
There is a common misconception that out-of-state tuition is more costly than in-state. Granted sometimes that is true, but not always. There are a lot out-of-state options that are cheaper and offer out of state scholarships. Like Walsh said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” so push boundaries, experience life in new ways with new interesting people, and create a space of self growth for yourself. Regardless of what people tell you, it is possible, do the research, make a choice and get the grades all on your own.

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