To Leave or Not to Leave

College is coming, and for the class of 2021 difficult decisions have to be made. Do we stay in our hometown or leave for a new area? Some people want to stay in their hometown for their family, to save money, or scholarships. Some people want to leave to try new things, get a fresh start, or pursue new opportunities.  This is a hard decision for anyone going to college, but due to the pandemic most schools aren’t offering tours anymore. This makes it difficult to get to know even local schools, let alone out of state schools. Many students didn’t have the time to research colleges before summer and aren’t given the opportunity to get to know schools they could be applying to. People seeking to visit colleges out of state are at an even greater disadvantage, with long-distance travel being a risk for some. Many colleges have anticipated this and created virtual tours so aspiring students can view their school from the comfort of their own home. So how do these stack up? Can they replace the in-person visiting experience and give an accurate summary of the college?

The virtual tours give an impersonal experience. Meeting people, seeing how the students interact, learning if you’ll fit in with the college crowd, and seeing the facilities in person are all important aspects of the college tour experience. Going on virtual tours is like visiting a museum, all you see are pristine, fixed perceptions of what the real history might have been like. You don’t see anything at its best or worst, just what the administration wants you to see. Choosing to leave your state, city, or even town can feel like a leap of faith.

As someone planning to apply for colleges out of state, I had the privilege to visit some schools outside of my area and get to know them fairly well. I would be leaving behind friends that want to stay, a family that loves me, and familiar surroundings to try a school hundreds of miles away. Why even take the leap? Why not stay with the people and places you love? For me, new places and experiences are challenging but exciting and I found a school that would fit what I want to learn in a place I want to go. There really is no right answer, each comes with pro’s and con’s, each person is different. In the end, people will end up where they want to be, and this tough time makes the decision tougher. College is just a small part of life, we dread it now, but soon it’ll just be a memory of an older time.