It’s your senior year of high school. You will soon graduate, but you still haven’t decided where you want to spend the next four years of your life, maybe more. Will you choose a college close to home or hours away?

Choosing a college can be a life-changing decision. Some may be itching to move far away from their parents, but others may have no other choice but to stay close to home. Either choice can have an effect on the overall college experience that a student has.

Sophia Tashie, a University of Memphis junior, chose to stay close. Her family’s home is about 10 minutes away from the main campus.

“I have a huge family in the Memphis area, and I just didn’t want to leave,” Tashie said. “I considered Ole Miss and realized even that seemed too far away in the end.”

While some students do not go farther than 10 minutes down the road, others go eight hours away or more. University of Memphis student Rachel Gibbons moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Memphis to continue her education after high school.

“I graduated with a very small class and was more than excited to explore the world after graduation,” Gibbons said. “I wanted a fresh start and did not want to start this new chapter of my life with the same people.”

The transition from high school to college comes with its own challenges and adaptations, no matter how far away from home it is. Going to college comes with a lot of independence and responsibility. 

“My biggest struggle has been my finances,” Gibbons said. “I had to quickly learn how to budget so that I could pay for tuition, rent, sorority dues and any other fun things I wanted to do. Sometimes I found myself with under $10 in my bank account. That taught me a lot.”

Tashie moved out of her parents’ house during her first year, but she’s still close enough to visit any time she wants to. 

“The best part is seeing my family, having nice meals and always being able to go home,” Tashie said.

Staying home or going far away can also play a role in whether or not a student keeps the same friends from high school or makes new ones in college. 

“I think I would have struggled to make friends if I did not live in the residence halls my freshman year,” Gibbons said. “This made it super easy to make friends.”

Tashie, on the other hand, used college as a way to keep up with her closest high school friends who also decided to stay close to home. She said made new friends along the way, but being able to keep her friendships from high school will always be special to her.

Tashie and Gibbons are happy with their college decisions. Whether home is 10 minutes or eight hours away, both students have shaped their college experiences into ones that they love.

“If I could go back and do it again, I would make the same decision,” Gibbons said. “I am so thankful for my experiences in this city and the rich culture I get to witness every day. I’ve grown in ways that I never would have imagined three years ago as a high schooler in Ohio.”

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