Okay, so I know the idea is not popular around here... leaving home... but I happen to be a huge advocate of getting out to see the world beyond Weymouth, beyond Massachusetts, beyond New England.
I met yesterday with a college representative from University of Alabama, and she reminded me of some of the wonderful reasons to consider... just consider... looking beyond our normal sights for college admissions.
1) Admissions: If you apply to a school in an area outside of New England, you actually could have a better shot at admission since committees often recruit out of area students in order to geographically diversify their campuses. This could mean getting into a school of a higher caliber in the rankings, more competitive programs, etc. just because you are from Massachusetts!
2) Financial Aid: Generally you are still going to have to qualify academically for scholarships, but because admissions departments may be specifically looking for students from out of the normal range, your financial aid package could be particularly generous. Many of these schools have lovely large endowments from big deal alumni which is a huge help for defraying costs to new students. (Yeah! We love generous financial aid packages!)
3) TOTAL Cost: Overall, especially if you look at school in the southern US states, the cost of tuition, fees, room and board, etc. is less than what it costs up here. This makes sense due to cost of living in general, etc. For example, when meeting with the rep from University of Alabama, they estimate that the TOTAL cost for the student from the Boston area, including two round trip flights, transportation to/from airports, tuition, room, board, books, etc...(and there were a lot of etc...) would be about $34K per year.
4) School Spirit: Okay, I know I may become not popular for saying this, but the school spirit in some of the schools, particularly in the southern states is HUGE, maybe more so than some schools in this area. You've watched those college sports, the attendance at games, the school colors, the band playing the school fight song... it's a big deal, a very big deal. And if it's something you're looking for, all I'm saying is that school spirit will generally not be short on supply in a school in the South.
5) Top Ranking Schools: Think you can't get a quality education outside of New England? Think again, check out the rankings and you'll see that some of the top programs and top schools are located elsewhere, and they'd be thrilled to have a New England student attend their top-ranked institution.
6) Large Alumni Networks: Large schools, no matter what the location offer large alumni networks. This could mean internships, summer job and after college job opportunities... many large universities have alumni spread out throughout the United States. Asking about Boston area alumni is a worthy question when considering an out of area school. How many are there and how strong is the network?
Concern about being far from home: Really and truly, you will be in touch all the time as you are now, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, phone, texting.... you won't be able to bring your laundry home all the time, but trust me, you'll be in touch.
All I'm asking is that you consider it. Consider schools outside your geographic comfort zone. Apply to a "reach" in a different area, apply to a strong program, and see what happens with admissions and financial aid - you might be positively surprised and when it comes to admissions and financial aid, we love happy surprises!