When Connecticut high school seniors want to go far away for college

airplane“I want to go to California for college.” Matt , a junior from Waterford, Connecticut said during our first college counseling session. I looked at his mom for her reaction. “We don’t want him to go but it’s his choice.”

During college counseling sessions, I hear the “California for college” quite often as well as the “I want to go somewhere warm for college.” I’ll address the latter in a different post.

I listen carefully to understand the motivation. If students want to head to college near Silicon Valley, I fully understand. That’s a unique place for start-ups in the technology development.   If students have family connections there or if there parents have the means and desire to travel regularly to the West coast, I also understand. If students have been to California enough to really believe, the state is a fit, I fully understand. Usually, none of the above is the case. Instead, the student has romanticized California as a place that magically provides an escape from all stress and problems.

With Matt, and with other college counseling clients, I declare my bias: “I view a strong family as the primary foundation for a happy life. “Your family is in Connecticut. When you go to California, you might think that you are going for four years and then you’ll be back to Connecticut or the East Coast. But, that’s usually not how the college experience works. 4 years of college in California will lead to California being your new home. Your friends, job opportunities, the person you are dating, and your second “home” will be there.

During both college and law school, I knew many classmates from the West Coast who lamented the split life they created. They wanted to head back to the West but they faced the same situation. Their friends, job opportunities, and boyfriends/girlfriends were in the East.

The strange thing with Matt but which I have heard enough to not find so strange was that he had never been to California!

“I guess I should think about his some more.” Matt said. Matt’s mom smiled.