Making the move to university – Home or Away?

Going to a local university was only half a coincidence for me – when I was making my UCAS applications three out of four of my medical school choices were within an hour’s drive from my parents’ house. So I’m going to talk about why I made the decision to go local, whether I made the right choice and if you should consider doing the same!

My name is Courtney and I’m a 4th year medic. Unlike most of my peers, I’m from the fairly local home town of Lincoln – where many of my friends have been placed for their clinical placements.

Pros

There are many advantages of staying close to home when making what is a gigantic leap from living at home under the close eye of your parents to suddenly having bills to pay, washing to do and food to cook! Knowing that I was so close to home meant that visiting home for the weekend was always in reach if I needed a break from studies. Being able to come home for the weekend also made it that much easier to keep in contact with home friends who didn’t go to university, and to be able to come back for birthdays and social events at short notice was invaluable.

Not only that, but moving-in day at the beginning of each term is always much easier when you’ve got only a short distance to move all your worldly possessions stuffed into your parents car like a frustrating life-size game of Tetris.

I found that knowing the area I was moving in to also alleviated quite a lot of pressure of leaving home. Since Lincoln is only a small city we had visited Nottingham on a number of occasions and knowing the general layout of a city when you’re trying to navigate it drunk in the middle of the night during fresher’s week makes you an invaluable member of the team!

Cons

On the other hand, there are definitely some negatives that need to be considered. Going home for the weekend can be great, but it can also turn into an unwanted responsibility. If you live close-by, your parents and friends may well assume that you’re free to come back anytime at their beck and call. Making it too easy to retreat back home to your comfort zone may prevent you from facing your fears and putting yourself out there, which may be bad for you in the long-run.

You may find that the ease of access of home and your friends from school may stop you from fully immersing yourself in your new course, friends and social circles. University is all about meeting new people and having new experiences and not taking full advantage of that will be something you come to regret in later years.

Finally, is your local city somewhere that you’d actually like to live? Some applicants have a very fixed idea about what they want from their university experience and the city in which they’d like to live so it’s very important to make sure that you’re not going to miss out on this by staying local.

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Ask yourself

Therefore, I have made a short list of questions you should ask yourself if you are considering staying local when applying to medical school:

  • How often are you going to visit home? Do you have a part-time job back home that you need to commute to? How far do you want to be from your parents (it’s okay to say as far as possible!)?
  • What do you want from your university experience? Do you want to live in a bustling city like London? Or do you want a campus-style university with lots of scenery?
  • How does your local university rank on the league tables and what are its entry requirements? Is the teaching style something you’d be happy with?

There is nothing wrong with staying close to home for your university experience and I have certainly reaped the benefits from living quite local. However, for me, I’d definitely recommend taking the leap and leaving home if you can afford to – going to university is the perfect time to get to know your own identity, meet new people and have the freedom to pursue whatever you wish to; whether that be home or away.