College is life-changing. It changes how you see yourself as a citizen of the world. You can build life-long friends and decide how you will spend the rest of your life.

Because college is such a big deal, people tend to stress over it — the location, the professors, the major: all the small details that make your experience different from the next person’s. Prospective college students are faced with tons of minor decisions that could be the deciding factor in whether or not they enjoy the time they spend earning their degree.

As a prospective student, one of the many choices you must make deals with your past. Will you try to escape it entirely or stay connected with your time in high school? Each approach has its own merits and there are different ways to accomplish each.

Leaving the Past Behind

High school isn’t a positive experience for everyone. It’s home to large numbers of kids who are all going through emotional and physical changes, so, as you might expect, high school can hold bad memories.

Bullying, bad classmates and a huge amount of homework, in subjects from math, history and — the most shocking for today’s students — writing, can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, today many schools fail to properly teach their students how to write. This is why more and more students are trying to get essay writing help fast. They are looking for different answers on how to write.

Others want to simply leave high school in the dust when they go to college and forget that it ever existed. There are some pros to that approach:

— If you did have a truly horrible high school experience, then going to college and never returning to your past might be the right fit for you. You are able to experience college without any negative reminders of your time in high school. A fresh slate could give you the tools to succeed and have a good time.

— Everyone knows someone who never really left their high school experience behind and are still living in the past. By separating yourself at the start of college, you can avoid falling into this trap and move on with your life.

If you want to leave everything behind and begin anew when you go to college, there are some ways to accomplish that:

— Go to a college that is farther away. You can physically distance yourself from the past where you’re much less likely to see people you know.

— Apply to schools that most other people from your high school are not applying to. There are plenty of schools that are not as well known that you can look into rather than the enormous, brand-name schools that everyone else is looking at.

— Develop a new group of friends. You can connect with new people who will have different views and opinions from the people you knew in the past. That way, you are not alone during your time at college and you can expand your own point of view.

Staying Connected with the Past

However, many people really enjoyed their high school experience. You may have made life-long friends, had amazing teachers or started programs that you want to check up on. These are some reasons to stay connected to your home during your time in college:

— If you enjoyed yourself in high school and made a solid group of friends, completely distancing yourself from those friends may not be a smart idea. If you lose touch during college, you are unlikely to rekindle that connection after college is over with everyone moving on to the next phase of their lives.

— It is very easy to become homesick during college, especially if it is your first time being away from home. Staying connected with friends and memories from high school can help to ease that feeling.

Staying connected can actually be more challenging then leaving everything behind. Here are some tips to help reconcile that pain:

— Try to go to a school that is closer to home. You’ll be able to visit your high school when you are on breaks and you can see your family more often.

— Apply to schools that your friends are looking at as well or look at colleges close to those schools. That way you can all try to be around the same location.

— Stay connected on social media or text/call your friends. You can stay up to date and keep in touch even if you’re not physically near each other.

— Meet up during breaks. Most people go home during longer breaks, so when you’re at home you can organize a meeting for all of your high school friends to see each other and catch up.

Which Option Is Best?

The above approaches are very black and white. Most people do not follow one tactic and completely ignore the other. For a successful and fun college experience, the best idea is to follow both approaches.

Leaving everything behind that you have been a part of for four or more years can be terrifying, especially when you are subjecting yourself to a brnd new environment that you are unfamiliar with. It can be nice to have some aspects of your old life around you so that you are not completely alone. Once you start to make new friends and find new hobbies, you may decide that you’re ready to move on from your pre-college experiences.

At the same time, you don’t want to be so closely connected to your old life that you close yourself off to new experiences. You may miss out on opportunities to find new social groups or form new interests because you are so invested in staying connected with people and memories from high school.

There should be a healthy balance between your new life and your old life. Too much of one or the other can be a recipe for disaster. The tips listed above do not consider the fact that you can mix your old life and new life together.

The most important factor when looking for a school is finding what is right for you. If you were planning on leaving everything behind but find the perfect college just five miles from your house, it would be foolish to ignore that college just because it’s “too close.” You can make your college experience what you want it to be. Even a school that is close to your old life can feel like it’s far away, and vice versa.

While in college, you should be focused on striving to be your best and enjoying yourself. There is no need to spend too much time worrying about the perfect balance between your college life and your pre-college life. College is about experimentation, and you will have to experiment with that balance until you find something that works for you.

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