Don't Let Your Relationship Determine Your College Choice

Every year high school couples make a decision about whether or not they'll try to stay together in college. Sometimes students allow their college choices to be influenced by their boyfriend or girlfriend's own preferences - whether they know it or not. Think carefully before falling into the trap of letting your relationship define who you are.

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By Sarah Wright

teens in love

Making Important Decisions for Yourself

So it's coming time for you and your high-school girlfriend or boyfriend to look at colleges. Maybe you've decided that you want to go to the same school so you can stay together. We're not going to tell you that your relationship is doomed, because there's no way to predict that. But we do think that you should think carefully about whether you're choosing a school for a guaranteed emotional security blanket rather than because it's in your long-term best interest.

Even if you and your significant other find a school that fits the most important criteria for each of you, you should do some careful thinking and make sure you're really interested in the school and what it has to offer. Your relationship may seem like the most important thing in the world now, but if you end up in a career you hate because the school you chose didn't offer anything you were interested in, you might be singing a different tune.

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Don't Go Changing

Having someone you know, love and trust with you during a major life transition is very comforting. But the major life transition of going to college is all about developing yourself as an individual and being open to new experiences and viewpoints. When you go to college specifically to stay with your high school girlfriend or boyfriend, change might not come so easily. Being closely attached to someone from your 'old' life might hold you back from engaging in the kind of growth and change that is so central to the college experience.

You might think you don't want to change, and that's understandable. But trust us: if you look back on your college experience and find that you haven't matured and evolved at all from who you were in high school you'll have more than a few regrets. Tying your college experience to a high school romance can make you feel hesitant to try new things because of the fear that change will jeopardize a relationship that you've been in since you were still just a kid living with your parents.

Codependence Can Be Harmful

Another argument against pre-planning your college life with a significant other is the fact that you're setting yourselves up for a codependent social life. This, again, is something that might hold you back and is unlikely to help you create new opportunities for yourself. If you feel overwhelmed at school, the desire to hold on to a relationship that may be well past its expiration date can be so strong that you avoid breaking up because you're too scared to deal with making new friends and meeting new people.

But that experience of being thrown into the social deep end is one of the most important non-academic learning experiences we go through as college students. Missing out on the process of building a social life from scratch can have consequences down the line, especially if, say, you take a job in a new place where you don't know anyone. Having the experience of making friends in college will help you in the process of making new friends later in life.

How important is romance for students deciding where to go to college?

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