Should I Move Back Home?

by Judge Josh on September 7, 2010

I’m sure I’ll regret writing this one 12 years from now when my daughter inevitably decides to go off to college in Uzbekistan or somewhere equally far-flung just to get away from her overprotective father, but today it feels like good advice.

Hi! I’m Kris. (feminine form of the word ) I actually heard about your website from a friend, and I absolutely love everything I read on here.

should i move back home

This is the 1975 national champion Wichita State women's bowling team. Who apparently was coached by Beck.

You are very kind and you keep impeccable company.

Just had to get that out of the way.

No, really, it’s OK, keep going.

Ok, now… onto the fun part.

(Sigh) If you insist. :)

Little background… I moved from MD to KS for a couple reasons. Partly to get away from the limited choices of schools in MD. I am now looking at schools in KS and I’m feeling a little confused about money, family and major issues.

OK, let’s hear it.

I attended the community college in MD before and ended up leaving due to the fact that I didn’t like the class size or the way the teachers, well, taught. I want to be back in school and stop waiting, but the only advice I’ve gotten on these questions has made me even more nervous….


Eh, don’t be nervous. What’s the worst that could happen?

I know that sounds like a joke, but it’s really not, and that’s why I’m intent on repeating it around here. The worst that can happen is that you’ll absolutely hate your new school to the point where you desperately want to leave and go home, and then you’ll leave and transfer home. And even then, you’ll probably still be around 20 years old, have tons of youth and energy and beauty AND have an additional life lesson under your belt.

Ok, question 1. The school I am looking at, WSU, seems like a great school. It has a handful of majors that I am thoroughly interested in…Only I cannot seem to put my interest directly onto one. The college won’t let me enter in completely “undecided”. It’s basically telling me I have to be “undecided” under one of its umbrella majors. Should I suck it up and just go into a major I’m not really sure I want to be in, just to go to the school?

Yeah, definitely, if that’s where you’ve determined is the best place for you. Remember that “undecided” in your head is different from “undecided” on university paperwork. By that I mean, just because you’ve “declared” something as your major to appease your school doesn’t mean you can’t still be truly undecided — as in, still keeping your options open.

Just jump through the administrative hoops they want you to jump through in order to get there and get settled, and then you can go about the normal process of finding what you like and pursuing it.

Might you have to change your major and file the corresponding paperwork, maybe stay an extra semester or two if you do it later in your career? Sure. Still, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Question 2. WSU is quoting me an in-state price of about 24000 for the whole shebang… The community college in MD is pushing just over half of that for the 3 years it would take me to achieve the associate degree I’d want to achieve there. Which, coincidentally leads me into my 3rd question….

Hey wait, what’s the second question? I’ll assume it’s less of a question and more of just a piece of critical information — Wichita State (or Washburn State in Topeka, whichever one we’re talking about here) is twice as expensive as the community college in Maryland.

And you’re right, that’s definitely a critical piece of the puzzle for later questions….

My family is intensely pushing me to move back home due to the fact that they “miss me oh so much”… now… hard part is, they don’t necessarily give the “you can be whatever you wanna be” speech. More like the opposite.

I’m gonna interpret that to mean they’re not super-supportive of your aspirations (whatever they may be). But even if they were, the simple fact that someone misses you is not a good reason to move back home.

It’s selfish of someone to request that, actually. Obviously you’re in the middle of getting a college degree, and by the sound of it, you’re at a school you obviously want to attend (since you moved halfway across the country to get there).

Of course they miss you — they’re supposed to miss you, you’re their kid. They’re also supposed to suck it up and support you while you’re out there in the world doing your thing, getting your education, building your career and future, etc.

Should I abandon all homesickness and family oriented quilt trips

Whoa, you blindsided me with the quilt trips thing. Just saying. What’s a quilt trip? I Googled it and I’m still not sure.

and attend the university, as well as save a little bit of money on rent?

Will you save money on rent in Kansas? How? I’m guessing maybe you have a family member there that you moved in with? I’ll assume something like that for the purposes of our post here.

Or should I go home and be with my family and attend the community college?

Well, what do we know so far? We know you like WSU and moved 1,000 miles away in the hopes of attending there (or maybe you moved and then found the school — whatever the order, doesn’t matter).

We also know it costs about double what your community college in Maryland cost, and that your parents would like you to return home for their own reasons but they’re not your biggest cheerleaders in your own endeavors.

What we don’t know is what you’re studying and whether the increased costs of WSU will be easily recouped later on when you’re working.

In light of this, my vote is no, stay in Kansas. (And as a Missouri graduate, I hope you know how difficult it is for me to utter those words. :)

Again, parents miss their kids, and that’s natural. But you’re an independent adult now in the middle of one of the most critical times in your life — one that will determine the course of your lifetime employment. It’s no time to get misty-eyed and drop the ball that you’ve already picked up and run 1,000 miles with already.

Especially if your family doesn’t help inspire you to go after your goals. I know I’m inferring a lot based on your two sentences about your family, but I gather that’s true. And if you DO have hopes and/or dreams and/or stuff you wanna study and explore, etc., then you’re more likely to be successful if you have people around you who support you in those pursuits.

Another point against living at home — and this isn’t universally true, but I know it is for a lot of people — is that it’s easy to slip into a mindset of complacency there. It can save you money, sure, but if you’re eating meals at the same table and sleeping in the same bed and watching TV on the same TV and the same couch as you did in high school, then it can be hard psychologically to tell yourself that you’re moving toward something bigger and better.

And when you don’t FEEL that, it makes it a helluva lot easier to quit when things aren’t going your way.

On the other hand, you’ve moved out and on to a faraway state. So you’re already very aware, every minute of the day, that you’re in transition (even if you’re not thinking about it). You’re in a different house, the streets are different, the people are different.

You’re in transition, in motion, and that’s good. That’s what you’re after.

So even though it’s more expensive, I’d stay the course in Kansas if I were you.

And by the way, if you’re at Wichita State and not Washburn State, drive by 5008 E. Pawnee and let me know if my childhood home is still there. I lived in Wichita for five years and we lived in a ratty little house over there for about nine months.

(We moved out in 1982 after a gunfight erupted at the bar across the street, and a bullet went through the side of our house. It ricocheted across our living room ceiling and out the other side. True story).

Thank you so much for look ing at my questions! You’re awesome!

Oh…go on. Just kidding, of course. You’re welcome, and thanks for asking.

— What about you guys? Any advice for Kris? Move home, stay in Kansas? Let us know in the comments below!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Leah Cass September 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Go to Kansas!! Don’t let your family guilt trip you into staying. You are your own person.

If things don’t work out they will always take you back, but you might never get the chance to live this experience again. Good luck!

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Nate September 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I agree, From what you said, I am inferring that the Community college may have only a handful of whatever your interested in perhaps. While Community Colleges are great, I have been thru the guilt trip that parents produce and had to physically shove them away and it was still pretty bad even a 2 hour drive from them. In the end, it was worth it.

You eventually have to start walking your own path, might as well now. As the above has said, never too late to start learning life lessons.

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Carlos September 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I think she meant “guilt” trip, not quilt trip haha.

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Xav September 7, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I think she meant guilt trips…

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Terry September 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

First off, you’re way ahead of the game if you can pay instate tuition. Really, there are no state universities in MD? Secondly, I don’t think you can compare getting an associate’s degree with a 4-year degree.
Finally, like JJ said, tell the admissions folks what they want to hear. If you “have to” declare a major (never heard of that) go talk to an admissions counselor and figure out which of your interests is closest to a major, matches the classes you took at CC, and run with it.
Of course your parents miss you “oh so much”. Wouldn’t you be hurt if they didn’t? Get Skype and invite them to visit you over Thanksgiving if you can’t make it back home on your own. :)

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Cheryl September 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm

This “parents guilting their child to stay home or nearby” always has me completely flummoxed. When our darling daughter went off to college (many states away after a very cooperative search and many discussions), we were ecstatic! No more worries about driving, parties, boyfriends were weren’t too sure of, no arguments…. sure we miss her, but we are SO GLAD she is flying the coop and becoming a responsible adult. It’s a joy to watch. With an empty nest, you can be a kid again with your spouse. It’s great!

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Stephanie September 8, 2010 at 9:58 am

Hi Kris, I’m dealing with the whole parents-love-me-and-want-me-back-home thing too. But it’s more that they want me to find a job back home and permanently settle there than that they want me to go to school there (my parents and grandparents are all perfectly aware that I can’t go any further at the university back home). I did a BA at home and just finished an MA in a city 2300 km (or 1400 miles) away from home, and now they want me to move back home and find a job there. They’ll never actually specifically say so, but they’ve talked around the issue enough that it’s pretty clear.

But the bottom line is this: shoot for your dreams and live a happy life. We all are only given one life each and it’s up to us to choose to live that life fully. If you can do that in MD, then great. If not, then stand up to or ignore your parents complaints and stay in KS. Me, I’ve got my eye on a city that takes me about 5000 km (3000 miles) away from home. Check out this song from what is one of the most amazing bands ever (IMO): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUkBi_8K92o

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Judge Josh September 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

Crap…I never even considered that she might’ve mean “guilt trip.” In retrospect, yeah, that’s probably what she meant.

I blame my assistant Sheena, who is TOTALLY the type to drive hundreds of miles for a big quilt-making party. :) She made me do it!

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Britt September 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

I agree with everyone. Head to Kansas! But I say it because of something you said. You expressed genuine dissatisfaction about the school back home. I actually did the opposite; I went away to school and moved back home to save rent money. However, it’s not for everyone. I was very happy with my school and am very proud to this day. You need to be able to feel that joy and pride about where you go to school. It’s important in order to tell yourself that the whole process is worth it. Pick the place where you feel that, no matter where it is. :)

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Sheena September 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

OK, Judge Josh, I’ll take the blame this time. In a huge coincidence, I was actually making a quilt Monday when you wrote this. However, I was at home, not hundreds of miles away on a ‘quilt trip.’

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Shanta November 16, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Hi Kris,

DON’T DO IT! It’s time to leave the nest, to find yourself, to explore life. Parents are great but let’s face it, they won’t always be in our lives. At some point we all need to stand on our own.

Speaking from experience…peace.

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Mick June 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm

This is a tough decision. I have to agree with the fact that if the school at home doesn’t offer classes in the major you want to pursue than it’s kind of a no brainer. Go to the school that offers classes in the degree you want to pursue. And yes, a 4 year degree is the way to go. My daughter went to a community college away from home since she already moved, but after a year and a half, transferred to a private college. They loved having a transfer student and were very supportive in her acceptance. I miss her like crazy, but I’ve gotten used to it. Parents do after awhile. My daughter also calls frequently and that helps, so maybe you can up the phone calls. On any given day I pretty much know what she’s doing and what classes she’s in…this helps make her feel closer. More calls and you end up staying on less time too. Send your class schedule when you get it too. That may help your parents deal with your absence and you won’t feel guilty. They’ll understand your busy building your future and at some point, they’ll get it and might not be so insistent you move back. It’s comforting to know where my daughter is a good deal of the time, I can picture her in class or shopping…whatever, so I don’t worry about her. Make the most of your visits home, but go to the right school, that’s the priority for your future. Btw, declare your major if you have to, but if you wait to make a final decision, Judge is right, you may have to stay longer to fulfill the required classes…the sooner you decide, the better. Good luck honey and stay safe!

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