A better college or my GF?

A letter writer is choosing between two colleges. He prefers the more respected college and the “college experience” – but his girlfriend wants to keep him close.


Dear EWC

Hi! I’m a senior and I’m trying to decide which college I should go to next year. I’ve been accepted and I’m having a really hard time deciding. The first college is a local commuter college that I really wouldn’t have any interest in, except my girlfriend has already been admitted and she can’t afford the other college. We’ve been dating for a bit over six months and I know it’s short but I love her so much and we both are very very committed and plan on getting married. If I went here, I would move into an apartment with her and pay rent. I have a full in-state tuition and am planning on applying for the honors program. This place also has a good law program that would take six years to complete, but it is not as respected as the second college. The second college is a larger one and a bit better respected and about an hour and a half from the other college and my hometown. If it weren’t for my girlfriend I would’ve easily decided to go here. I think I would be OK with a long distance relationship (at least for a little bit) but she is not good with it at all, and ever since we’ve started dating we haven’t been apart for more than one or two days. When I was gone for a week on vacation with my family, it was very hard for her and pretty hard for me. I’ve been accepted into the honors program here too and have full in state tuition. My parents have also said they will pay for my housing and any meals if I go here. I really wanted a “college experience” with a move in day and campus life and this is definitely the better option for those aspects. My parents also don’t know about my relationship and they think this choice is obvious and have been pressuring me to go to the second one. Which one do you think I should go to? Thank you so much! 


Folk replies

First of all, congratulations on your upcoming high school graduation, as well as on your acceptances into two different colleges. You must have done very well in school to have earned yourself two full tuition scholarships and to have been admitted to two different honors programs. Your academic success indicates to me that you are a serious student who will apply yourself to your studies and do well whichever school you decide to attend. That said though, you would definitely prefer to attend the larger, non-commuting college that is an hour and a half away from the college your girlfriend is planning to attend. Not only does your preferred school enjoy a better reputation than the other one, but it also offers more of the “college experience” you crave. If your girlfriend supported your choice, attending the larger school would be a no-brainer for you. The problem is that she doesn’t.

I get that you love your girlfriend and plan to marry her someday. Nonetheless, you would be OK with a long distance relationship with her if she were open to the idea. Because she has a very hard time being separated though, you are considering attending the same college as her and also sharing an apartment together. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your freely choosing to forgo your own personal desires to make your girlfriend happy. But before you decide to do this, I think you need to ask yourself an important question: if you give up your ideal college experience in order to make your girlfriend happy, will you regret it later on?

Going away to college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I totally understand why you’d like to take advantage of the total college experience. If you give it up for your girlfriend, and for whatever reason things do not work out between the two of you, will you regret having put her needs above your own? What if you are offered an out-of-state internship or the chance to study abroad? Would your girlfriend be OK with your accepting these or would she try to discourage you from doing so because it would mean being apart? How would you feel about this? 

I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that there is no one size fits all answer to your dilemma. Different people prioritize things differently, and I can’t tell you how to order your priorities. College, transformation is inevitable. The new experiences and people you encounter there will shape you in ways you probably aren’t anticipating. Your girlfriend will mature and change too. And as the two of you grow, you may grow in different directions. If this happens, you may feel like you missed out.

My son transferred from college he was attending to be with his then girlfriend. This meant giving up a starting varsity position as a freshman on his school’s championship soccer team. When he and his girlfriend broke up six months later, he bitterly regretted this decision. I am not saying that this is what will happen to you. I am saying though that you and your girlfriend have only been together for six months; you both have a lot of living and maturing ahead of you. Maybe you and she will wind up getting married, maybe you won’t. But if right now, you feel strongly that you’d like to take full advantage of your educational opportunities by attending the larger college, then I think you should go with your gut. Your girlfriend may be unhappy with your decision, but if she loves you, she should support your doing what’s important to your shared future. Besides, being apart from each other can actually strengthen your relationship. Sure, you’ll miss each other; but the moments you do spend together will be even more meaningful and exciting. Technology has made long distance relationships easier than ever. Rather than waiting weeks to see your other half, you can jump on FaceTime and talk face-to-face. An added bonus is that attending different colleges will give you two a lot to talk about, and since your schools are only 90 minutes apart, you and she can get together often.

You are facing a tough decision and I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back if you can to let me know what you decide to do. Whichever way you decide, I wish you every success in your college career.

Article #: 474758

Category: Dating/Relationship

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