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When my best friends and I received our first college acceptance letters I felt a mixture of excitement and terror. The single school we’d all applied to had accepted us! As we chatted about room decorations for our prospective dorm and which parent would be shuttling us back and forth each semester, I couldn’t suppress the growing feeling of dread. To be honest, I knew I wasn’t really thrilled about attending that particular school. The only reason I even applied was because my friends were excited about it.

Whether it’s a friend, boyfriend, or family member, many people consider some colleges because someone important to them attended or plans to attend that institution. However, let me give you a few good reasons why it may be better to consider branching out.

1.You may feel pressured to room with them.

Most people think that going from friends to roommates is an easy transition. After all, you’ve had sleepovers and overnight trips together. It won’t be that much different…right? That’s what my friends thought. When I told my mother that my friends and I were considering sharing a dorm room, she implored me not to do it. Many of her friends who moved in together after high school are still no longer on speaking terms. It’s easy to be friends with someone you can say goodbye to at the end of the night. It’s a lot harder to be friends with someone you see every single day, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. It’s even worse if it doesn’t happen to work out. However, If you choose to attend a school different from your friends, the likelihood of this being an issue won’t even be an option.

2. College is your chance to reinvent yourself.

Remember that one time you produced the burp that broke the sound (and scent) barrier in the middle of the lunch room? So do your best friends. Chances are, they were the immediate casualties of the blast and have the most to say about it. If you choose to go to college with friends from high school, they will inevitably bring embarrassing stories about you with them. Let’s face it: most of us were not at our best then. Even if it wasn’t something too extreme or embarrassing, there are just some things better left in the past. Going to college can be a fresh start and a chance to establish an improved reputation. When you get to college, no one will even know that story about you, and, if you go alone, no one will ever know unless you choose to tell them.

3. Meeting up on breaks means a lot more.

In high school, you get to see your friends multiple times a week so it may seem unnatural to even think about putting yourself in a situation where this won’t be possible. However, I cannot put enough importance on how great it feels to meet up with best friends after being apart for the semester. Everyone has different stories and experiences to share with each other. It often gives you a chance to see how far you all have come since the high school cafeteria. These changes can be harder to notice if you’re constantly around your friends.

4. The school that’s best for them, may not be best for you.

Maybe your friends are thinking about going to larger schools while you think you’d feel more comfortable at a smaller school. Or maybe you want to go to a specific type of school like an HBCU or religious college while your friend craves something with more of an ivy feel. Perhaps the school that your friend has her heart set on doesn’t have the major or concentration you’re looking for. Regardless of the reason, you should never compromise what you’re looking for out of a college just to stay with your friend. The place you choose will essentially be your home for the next four years. While no school is perfect, if just thinking about actually attending that school makes you want to vomit… do yourself and your friends a favor and just pick a school you actually like.

5. Give yourself and your friends a chance to meet new people.

If you go to college with an entire clique from high school in tow, it makes you seem very unapproachable. It also makes you comfortable. Comfortable is a bad place to be during the first few months of college. While everyone else is forging life-long friendships over midnight pizza, you and your friends may be tempted to stick to a routine that includes mainly each other and Netflix. College is the time to meet new people and put yourself out there. It is also one of the last places you can make lasting friendships easily. Because of the amount of growth and change that occurs in college, you may find yourself becoming a completely different person by the end of college anyway. You may even find that you have more in common with the people you meet in college than your high school friends.

In the end, I held out for my final acceptance letter and ended up at a small, extremely nerdy, liberal arts college that was perfect for me. My friends chose the more modern, upcoming school and can’t image being anywhere else. While going to college with your friends can be equally as fun as going alone, if you choose for yourself and go where YOU want to go, it actually gives you and your friends a chance to grow and change independently.

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the author

Lauren Collier is a senior at the College of William and Mary studying English and Psychology. She spends her days in the developmental psychology lab researching family behavioral patterns. When she's not in the lab or writing for The Prospect, Lauren is usually cooking up a storm with her roommates or writing poems under the shade of a large tree.

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