Should I go far away? College and the impact on family

By College Advice

“Go far.” That was Professor Moore’s single piece of advice.

I was 17 years old and attending a summer program.  We were listening to a panel of education experts.  Professor Moore continued with his reasoning: “you need to experience different parts of the world.  Get away from your parents and your friends.  Create some distance between you and your past.”  It was a compelling speech from a very smart guy. Professor Moore had left the East Coast to attend Stanford.  He was now a Professor at UCLA.

I talked to Professor Moore afterwards.  He elaborated on his desire to get away.  He didn’t have a good high school social experience.  His father was overbearing.  His older sister had moved far away as well.  It didn’t sound like he lost much by going far.

When I started working with students and families 15 years ago, I was a new Dad. Thoughts of my children leaving to college were in the distance.  But, I certainly noticed the angst that parents faced as their children left for college.  I also realized that the decision to “go far” had lasting implications beyond the 4 years of college.

4 years of living in California leads to friends, boy/girl friend, and job opportunities in California.  4 years might mean 10 years.  Or forever.

So, began my bias to keep families close which only grew as my three children did and I started thinking about their departure.

We are fortunate to live in the Northeast of the United States which has the greatest collection of good colleges in the world.  And, I certainly understand that some colleges are worth heading to despite distance.  In fact, I call it “the Stanford exception.”  But, unless the college is extraordinary, why separate family?

“Go near”.   That’s my advice.