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Articles / Applying to College / Why Do Females Choose Colleges Close to Home?

Why Do Females Choose Colleges Close to Home?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Dec. 23, 2008

Question: Why do females tend to stay closer to home than males do when picking a college?

Do females stay closer to home than males? Maybe so, but that's a stat I've never seen. In fact, when I do a mental inventory of my own high school classmates and their college choices, harking back nearly four decades ago, the results don't support this conclusion. The two who journeyed farthest (to California, from our Philadelphia home turf) were both female. Conversely, more men than women went to the University of Pennsylvania close by, and the rest of the choices--near and far--were pretty evenly balanced between the genders.

But, let's just say that your hypothesis is correct ... then my best guess is that it's true for a couple reasons:

1) Mothers and fathers may be more protective of daughters than sons. I've counseled 12th-grade girls whose families didn't want them to leave home and live in dormitories. The parents urged them (or, in some instances, actually required them) to commute to college. In the case of these students I've known personally, they were first-generation Americans whose parents did not attend college themselves. Several had older brothers who did leave home for college.

2) In some families, it is still expected that male children will become heads of households and chief breadwinners so that they thus may be encouraged to attend the best possible college for preparation in their prospective career field, regardless of cost or location. For daughters in such households, however, being a wife and mother may be the primary expectation post-college. So girls may be pushed toward in-state public colleges with lower price tags.

I would conjecture that such thinking was more prevalent decades ago than it is now. But, as I noted above, in my own orbit in the Sixties, this wasn't true. However, the vast majority of my classmates came from affluent families with college educated fathers and mothers. I suspect that parents in this demographic were more open then (and still are) to their daughters flying far from the nest.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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