I’ve fallen in love with Southern California and want to go there for college but my family and boyfriend are back East.
Our elder says: Go! Explore life a little.
I didn’t exactly know what category to put this under because it affects multiple portions of my life but I am a senior in high school in Massachusetts. My close family members recently moved out to California where I used to live when I was much younger. I visited them this summer, and fell in love with Southern California. I still have a few months to figure out my game plan. But I guess that’s where I need advice, I have a boyfriend of almost a year, two parents and a little brother here in Massachusetts who I’m extremely close to, and have never been away from them for a very long time at all. I’ve been searching for schools out there and found a few that I’d be interested in. But I have extremely strong relationships here, and I’m not sure if going to California after high school is my best choice. I don’t know where I should go to college or how I should go about moving or when I should. But all I know is that the next stage of my life is coming and I don’t know what direction I should take. It all stresses me out, but my main concerns are leaving my parents and boyfriend behind and making a new life across the country. What should I do? How should I go about it?
Mr. Bill replies
Thanks for writing to us with this interesting decision. You are correct when you write that this affects multiple portions of your life. Not only that, whatever you decide, the decision will affect, guide, and drive the rest of your life after. Given that it is such a significant decision, only you can make it. I do have some thoughts I can share, and I do have a preference. However, in the final analysis, this one is yours.
Before I tell you which direction I prefer, let me share those thoughts.
I honestly believe that after you graduate from high school, 80 percent of your growth, education, and learning comes from being away from home. Away from home you encounter new people, new situations, and unfamiliar experiences. You’ll have to recognize, accept, and handle them on your own. By doing so, you develop into your own, self-sufficient and independent person. You will learn things in classes and from others, but what you’ll learn most is who you are and that you are capable. You will acquire the confidence to be your own person.
When I graduated from high school, it was expected that I would go on to college. My main, if not only, criterion was that it be at least 200 miles from home. I wanted independence, being away from family, and the experience of being on my own and establishing myself. And that’s what I did. After the first few days at school, which required a little adjustment, I was just fine and have never regretted it. To this day I am glad that I did it that way. It was the correct decision for me.
When our boys graduated from high school, they, too, were expected to go to college far from home. No staying home and going to a school in town; no living too close; no coming home every weekend for laundry. We wanted them to experience that same sense of accomplishment, independence, and allow themselves to grow into their potential. They, too, went off on their own and did very well.
You write that you have close family members already in California so you are not leaving everyone and you have family members in CA. But remember the 200-mile rule. Be near family so you can keep in touch and continue to nurture those relationships, and in case there is an emergency, but far enough away to let yourself grow.
Your parents apparently are in Massachusetts. If you leave, they will still and always be your parents; they will love you and you them. They will visit you in CA and you may return to Mass for holidays, summers, and, depending on how things go, after you graduate.
Your boyfriend? I honestly believe – if it is meant to be, it will be. You can keep in touch, see each other on breaks, and as the years go by you may continue on as you are. Or you may go different ways as you become your own people with different interests and directions, remembering each other and how you each made the other person’s life better. Or you may drift apart only to reconnect somewhere down the road. I know several couples who were together in high school, went their own ways to college and in life, and discovered each other in their 20s or later and spent the rest of their lives happily together.
Yes, if it is meant to be, it will be. It might be sad and unhappy for a time, but that will fade and life will determine what’s next.
That’s why I think I would suggest you go to California and explore life a little.
California or Massachusetts. It is your decision. You must live with the outcomes so you are the one who must decide.
Good luck, my friend. If you have reactions or questions or would like to explore this a little more, I’ll be here. And how about letting me know what you decide, and somewhere down the road, how you are doing. I wish you well and a happy, successful college experience no matter where you go!
Article #: 414704