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Staying home or moving away.


rinit

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I'm down to deciding between remaining in my hometown for grad school (either at my current institution or the one next door) or moving about 4.5 hours away. Each program is well funded, interesting, filled with good advisors, and so on and so forth, so I'm really coming down to location. I understand the benefits of branching out and moving to another city, but I'm hitting a large roadblock: family. There are a number of medical and financial issues within my immediate family that make even thinking about moving away seem like running away or abandoning home.

 

I always see grad posts about significant others, but has anyone around here dealt with larger family issues?

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This isn't quite the same situation as I wouldn't call mine a larger family issue, but I definitely factored family into my decision. I'm a single mom to a toddler and received offers ranging from an hour away from my current hometown to the opposite side of the country. My entire family lives within 20ish minutes of me now, so I had to decide whether it was worth it to stay nearby with a lot of support and plenty of free babysitting, or pick up and move across the country on my own with a toddler, where I didn't know a soul.

 

As much as I would have loved to move down to Florida and escape the cold of the Rockies, I decided it just wasn't the best decision for myself or for my daughter. Moving would mean taking her away from her dad, her cousins, and her grandparents, and taking me away from my biggest support. Not to mention the added cost of paying a stranger to watch my daughter.

 

In the end, you have to do what you think is best for YOU long term. If you think you'd be happy in a program in your hometown, it's financially plausible, and there's an added bonus of being there for your family in the event of medical or financial turmoil, then stay. But if you think that you'd be happier in another city experiencing something new, I wouldn't let the guilt of leaving your family hold you back. 4 and a half hours is still close enough that you could get home quickly if you needed to.

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Assuming that the programs are truly very comparable and attending one or the other wouldn't make much of a difference in your career, then it has to do with what you want.  I did my undergrad in my hometown and so I wanted to move away for grad school, so only one of the grad schools I applied to was in my hometown (and it was top 10 in my field).  If you want to stay close by to help your family out with those issues, and always be available to them to help out, then staying home is definitely a viable option.  You can grow and develop close to home as long as you protect your time and seek out new experiences.

If you want to get away from all that, though, and not been seen by your family as perpetually available - or if your family is really annoying (like mine can be sometimes) - then moving away may be a good idea.  Especially if your family constantly hits you up for money (honestly, I would rather not live too close to my family sometimes, lol).  And yes, definitely don't let guilt hold you back.  It's your life and you have to do what's best for you (and your immediate family if you have a spouse or dependents).  My aunt is in the hospital right now and I have enough money in the bank that if I needed to fly home in a few days, I could.  That's what airplanes are for, I always say.

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Is this 4.5 hours away by plane or by car? If it's by car, that's not far at all and more than reasonable for a weekend trip home.

 

I'm used to going all over the country away from my family, and I wouldn't even consider that "moving away from home".

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I'm having the same issue. I was accepted into five schools, and one was in my hometown. I have since essentially narrowed it down to two. I'm still considering the hometown school and my "top choice" which is about four hours away.

 

The hometown school is still in the running because its close, and because I can do a dual degree there. The other school is better overall though not so much better ranked in terms of the program.

 

Its a really hard call. I'm not really sure what I will end up doing. I sort of have a game plan for deciding though. First off, i'm going to try and decide which school would I attend if they were both in the same place. Only then, if I pick the further away school, am I going to factor in location. Is the further school better enough to outweigh the drive?

 

I'm kind of leaning towards the further school, but I still have to visit. Four hours really isnt that far, and in terms of grad program locations its actually really close. Most people seem to go WAY further. I dont think I will ever regret going away for a few years, but I think I probably could regret not going. I think my family will understand.

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I had a similar problem. I was accepted to one program about 4 hours away, and a couple that were much closer (40-60 mins by car). 

 

The mindset for grad students (and academics in general) is usually not very family-oriented, so a lot of people will tell you to just accept whichever program is better, regardless of distance. But that's not always realistic. I'm very close to my parents and siblings, and the idea of only seeing them once a month (as I would if I went to the further school) is not a happy one for me. This was a significant part of my decision when I chose my school.

 

Your well-being is important. If being close to your family will make you happier or less stressed out than being in a new city (and the programs are comparable), then it's probably worth it!

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