I thought I knew what I was getting into when I chose an out-of-state college as my first choice. I thought, “How much more difficult would it be? It’s not going to change much about my life except for my total freedom, right?”
Having said that: if I could send myself back two years to warn Past Me about that path of thought, I’d laugh right in Past Me’s face and tell her, “Girl, you have no idea what you’re about to get yourself into.”
Going to an out-of-state college isn’t like Scream Queens, or *insert your favourite college movie here*. It’s not all fun and games and getting drunk and trying to act like you’re not. And while yes, that forms some of the best times of living/studying at an out-of-state college, there are some things that people don’t tell you about attending an out-of-state college.
1. You’re going to be responsible for a lot more things than just your freedom.
You’re not just in charge of your newfound freedom and destiny, oh no – you’re also going to be in charge of your own money income, your own study habits, and your own life habits in general. Does your mom usually clean your room for you? Not anymore. And sometimes, you don’t realise that Mom really isn’t there anymore until your clothes have started to accumulate into a mountain on the end of your bed. If your parents aren’t giving you an allowance, then you’ll have to come up with a way to start earning money.
Sleeping habits are so important as well, and they can unravel quite quickly if you don’t stick to a pattern. So why is that a bad thing, you ask? Think of it this way. The later you sleep, the less energy you recover, and the more unmotivated you’ll be to do any work at all.
2. You’re probably going to be living out of three suitcases for a few years.
One thing that all out-of-state college students have in common is the amount of travelling they do. Even if you’re one state away from home, you get used to planning long road trips or flights to and from home and over time you start to become the Bag Packing Maestro of your friend group, just because you’re so used to having to squash your stuff so that it fits a certain baggage requirement. One year you’re in a dorm, and the next you’re in an apartment… then the year after that? You’re in another new apartment. Travelling from house-to-house, year after year, is tedious at times, but it makes everything new again – so you end up not minding that much anyway.
3. You end up having to solve all your “adulty” problems by yourself.
Of course, your parents are always a phone call away – but that’s the thing. They’re not there to look at your problems immediately, and often they won’t be around to judge the situation with their own eyes. So you can’t really run away from your problems when you’re living away from home. An obvious solution to that problem is to always look for help when you need it – even if it isn’t being offered. If you’re struggling with your course work, go to your professors for help.
If someone within a certain department is looking for you, don’t jump to the worst conclusion and try to avoid them. When you live away from home, you end up finding ways to solve your problems in a way that benefits you in the future – a lesson we all need to learn, eventually. People out-of-state just have the privilege of learning it first.
4. Finding a balance is difficult… but it’s possible.
As a fellow out-of-state student, I won’t lie: living independently is hard. There are already so many reports about students, especially from our generation, who are unable to live independently because of their financial situation or their living situation. But I’m going to impart some of my experience-based knowledge on you: things get better as you get used to them.
The moment your parents step foot outside of your dorm room can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of your life (Oh my god, what do I do? Where can I make friends? Ugh I have no money for this. How am I going to get home?) but I can assure you that you will not regret making the choice to be independent early on. It teaches you things that your other stay-at-home friends won’t learn until much later on. You learn a lot of life skills, especially the ones you always complained about that weren’t taught at high school.
So, don’t be afraid to spread your wings a little. You might end up learning things that will benefit your life in the long run.