By Andrew DesRochers and Mike Chaput
The kids are moving out, and some are moving farther from home than you’d expect. Although some graduates are choosing to stay close to home, others are spreading their wings in search of new opportunities in faraway schools.
What’s the appeal of these distant schools? Who could bear to be that far from home? And what makes these schools stand out for students from Holliston?
Ms. Deborah Guenther, a guidance counselor at Holliston High, takes on a great task of helping students choose a college. In her 30 years at HHS, Ms. Guenther has seen an increased trend in out of state attendance.
“My perspective is more students are going out of state,” said Ms. Guenther in an interview, “in junior year everyone wants to go out of state.” She went on to say that it isn’t until senior year when some students begin to reconsider and opt for in state schools.
Though some students are making the choice to stay close to home, a decent portion of grads are heading out and finding new places to live.
“I think the south has a draw, the west gets a spattering of kids, but certainly the Carolinas, Florida, and schools in Virginia,” seem to be some of the most popular areas for Holliston students, said Guenther.
Ms. Guenther did state though, that economic factors are starting to slow this trend. Out of state tuition has gotten out of hand in recent years, and some students are feeling that pressure.
Ashley Higgins will be joining 18 of her fellow classmates at UMass Amherst next year, although accepted to UVM, UNH, UConn, Loyola Maryland, and Northeastern. There are many reasons why UMass has been so popular this year, but for Higgins it was “price, association with UMass Medical, a big school spirit, and its proximity to home.”
“A lot of students are making the wise choice because they realize they’re coming out and not having a whole bunch of loans to pay off,” said Ms. Guenther.
Higgins seems to agree, stating that, “price has something to do with it. You really get a bang for your buck.”
Never the less students are still leaving Mass. behind. The second most popular school for students of the Class of 2012 to be attending next year is Elon, located in North Carolina.
When asked why these southern schools have had particular appeal, Ms. Gunther joked “weather. I think it’s a great place for them to be. Remember we’re coming from the North East.”
Atticus Grinder, one of the six HHS students who will be attending Elon next year, concurs with Ms. Gunther’s reasoning, stating that he believes so many Holliston seniors are going to Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, next year because “it’s a good school, great weather, and it’s not too expensive.”
Gorgeous weather is surely a desirable amenity, but there must be more than a sunny day that’s pulling these students in.
“For a lot of kids, it depends on their major,” Ms. Guenther continued. “Certainly if you’re going into the political science arena, most of our kids will venture down to the Washington D.C. area. Some will venture to an NYU. If you’re doing fashion design, that’s where you want to be. So it’s pertinent on getting a job coming out.”
Jinny Pollinger found this factor during her college search. Pollinger will be studying at Chapman University in Orange, California.
As Pollinger is majoring in theater, she found that “it has a strong acting program and it’s where I wanted to be.”
As a theatre major, Pollinger found that her proximity to LA, the Mecca of the performing arts will be one of the strongest features Chapman has to offer.
Pollinger has been acting since the age of 7 and is now one of the elites in HHS’s drama program. As a three season performer, Pollinger has an obvious passion for the stage.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of being far away and independent,” said Pollinger. “It will be different, but I think I’m ready to move on.”
However, this distance from home comes at a price. “I’m not going to be coming home that often,” said Pollinger, “I’ll probably come home for summer vacation and winter break, but I can’t come home for spring break or Thanksgiving or anything like that.”
Pollinger said she’ll be ok with that; she feels that this lifestyle change will be something that she will be able to adapt to.
Ms. Guenther also touched on the fact that some schools will come into style after HHS alumni have had great experiences at them. One current trend is playing off of Elon.
After grads from the past two graduating classes from HHS have come back for the summer and raved about Elon’s stunning campus, gorgeous weather, and fantastic academics, a surge of college bound seniors sent out Elon’s own specific application. Fifteen seniors applied to Elon for the early action decision alone this year.
Kirstie Deprey found herself falling in love with Elon, as well. Deprey is aspiring to be a Bio-Chemistry major in her time at Elon. It is on the cutting edge in terms of science with state-of-the-art equipment and a full Cadaver Lab.
Deprey said she initially found interest in Elon after her sister began attending a few years ago. “She’s always raving about it,” said Deprey, “It’s beautiful there.”
With concern to the distance, Elon is about 2 hours away by plane (not including an hour from the airport to the campus) or about a 15 hour drive. Despite that, Deprey says the she is “Kinda fine about it… for now.”
Although Elon was not first in mind for Deprey, when it came to a decision, the allure of this southern school was something she could not resist.
Beautiful weather, ideal locations, and outstanding academic programs are drawing Holliston Students away from home, while cost and a sense of security is keeping them close. Either way, the kids are moving out whether near or far and a new sense of freedom and responsibility is just around the corner….