Con: Should Best Buds Head to College Together?

Sarah Rockwood, Editor-in-Chief

We’ve all heard it before.  The dedicated boyfriend who gives up a scholarship to Yale to stay with his girlfriend on the West Coast.  Or the best friend who goes to Pitzer over UC Berkeley to spend the next four years with their other half.  On first thought, such a gesture seems sweet, even romantic, but choosing a college solely on the basis of following someone you love is a dangerously flawed idea.

As the end of senior year approaches, the elephant in the room becomes nearly unavoidable.  For couples, a looming and often painful decision presents itself: to stay together, or not to stay together?  It’s one thing to decide to try to make a long distance relationship work in college, but a completely different thing to make a short distance one work by following each other to school.

As difficult as it is to part ways, where your significant other is attending, or hoping to attend, should play no part in your college decision process.  If you happen to go to the same school or nearby, that is a fortunate coincidence.  But no one should ever have to sacrifice or modify their desires to match someone elses.  And especially when it comes to college, such a decision will often end in regret and resentment.

People change, and while that’s always the case, it couldn’t be more true for college students.  In a completely new environment surrounded by completely different people, the first few years of college are monumental in shaping who you are.  Even after the first few months, your “other half” may not fit your mold anymore.  And if they were the only reason for going to a certain college, you’re suddenly left without a reason for being where you are.  With all the other confusion and chaos in college, that kind of uncertainty and doubt is the last thing anyone needs.

While some may cordially part ways after growing apart, relationships could take a nasty turn for the worst under such different circumstances.  If it comes to an ugly end, the last thing anyone wants is to face their ex every single day.  But suddenly you’ll find yourself going to the same classes, living in the same dorms, eating in the same halls, with no way to get away from each other.

Of course, you can have space in college if you’re determined to get it.  Seeing that person around campus isn’t the main problem.  But being at a campus you originally didn’t want to be at is.  True, you can always transfer.  But transferring is no easy task and when you finally get to that right college, you’ll feel as if you’re a little behind everyone else.  Finding where you belong is difficult no matter who you are, so get it right the first time.

If a relationship or friendship is truly “forever”, then it will endure, whether from opposite ends of the Earth or in the same city.  The true test of any relationship, whether romantic or not, is that of distance and time.  A little space from each other can be healthy. It will allow each person to grow on their own while also having the comfort of knowing there is someone always looking out for them, even if they aren’t in the same state.  The door is always open to reconnect after college, even if you lose touch throughout, and the reconnection might be stronger than the original.  And if a relationship can withstand four years of separation, hormones, and identity crises, it can withstand anything.

When packing your bags to cross the country and leave that loved one behind, try to see the positive aspect of the new journey on which you’re both about to embark.  Living in separation doesn’t have to be all torture: it can be a truly valuable growing experience that strengthens an already strong relationship.  Just think of all the cute gifts and care packages you can send each other through the course of the school year.

Going to college is an experience unlike any other and it should be an experience about you, not someone else.  While it can be scary and painful, it’s important to go into college with an open heart and mind on your own terms.