By Megan McCluskey
There’s no denying that trying to determine where you’re going to spend the next four years of your life can definitely stress you out. But the extra anxiety of figuring your boyfriend or girlfriend into the college application process has the potential to put you right over the edge.
If you’re a senior who's coupled up, you’re going to have to take the time to figure out what to do with your relationship once you’ve decided you’re not applying to the same college as your significant other. Nearly all high school couples choose to apply to a bunch of different schools and most of the time, the two parties involved don’t end up in the same place. Check out our guide to handling your relationship once you two know you’re going to have some distance between you for the next four years.
Keep your priorities straight
If you have a top choice school, keep the reason you love it so much in mind. Whether it’s because you’ve dreamed of going there your entire life, you toured it last spring break and fell in love, or it has the best program in the country for what you want to major in, it’s crucial to remember that there are important grounds in why you wanted to go there in the first place.
It’s easy to fall into wanting to take the easy way out to save your relationship by just applying to the same colleges as your boyfriend. However, it’s essential that you stick to your guns and don’t do this if there are legitimate reasons you won’t be happy at these schools. Ultimately, it will make both you and your boy miserable if you hate the school you’re at and vice versa.
“My boyfriend is currently a freshman at Tulane, and I felt like I was obligated to apply there to make this whole long distance ordeal a lot simpler,” explains Rachel, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School. “However, Tulane doesn't exactly suit me because I was looking to apply to schools with stronger business and economics programs, or a specific PPE [philosophy, politics and economics] major. I ended up not applying early decision to Tulane and probably won't end up applying at all because I can't fathom paying over $50,000 a year to go to a school that just isn't a great fit for me.”
You have to think about whether giving up your entire education for one person is truly worth it or not. There’s never a guarantee that any relationship will work out, so it’s necessary for you to consider the consequences of choosing a school that’s the wrong fit if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend end up breaking up.
“If I'm accepted into my top choices, there is no doubt that I would attend any of them over Tulane,” says Rachel. “I would not be able to fathom giving up a dream school and exceptional education for another person. My education is really my top priority because relationships are just too indefinite to base my entire future on.”
Discuss whether or not you two should stay together
Deciding whether or not to stay together is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s something that has to be done. If you two leave this topic untouched, it’s definitely going to end up being the elephant in the room.
It’s best to have this exchange while the application process is still going on. To make this talk worthwhile, you both need to be honest about what you want out of the college experience, where you’re applying and what your top choices are. Acting like you want to go somewhere that you don’t isn’t beneficial for either of you.
When you talk about the future, consider logistics. For example, how far away are you two actually going to be? If you’re going to be an hour apart, it will be pretty easy to see each other somewhat often. But if you’re going to be on opposite coasts, it’s most likely going to be pretty unmanageable.
You also need to think about whether you’re actually capable of being in a long-distance relationship. LDRs normally only work out if there are very strong feelings involved. And when there are not, things tend to sour pretty quickly. If you can’t envision a future with your boyfriend or girlfriend, breaking up before college is the better choice. That way you’ll both be able to remember your relationship in a happy light rather than remembering it for the pain involved in a failing LDR. And there is always the option of getting back together later on.
Cope with the process
If you end up getting in a big fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend about where you two are applying and want to go, it’s important to find the right person to talk to about it. It can be hard to find someone who’s unbiased about your relationship and can give you an objective point of view. Your parents are definitely going to want you to do what’s best for your personal success and your best friend will probably just end up being on your side. One person that can be great for these situations is your guidance counselor. Even if you don’t want to talk to him or her about the nitty-gritty details of your relationship, you can discuss which colleges are actually the best fit for you and the pros and cons of each one you’re applying to.
You'll likely have to field questions from friends and classmates about what your plans are as a couple. If you haven’t discussed whether you’re staying together or not, it’s best to just tell people that it’s a private matter to make sure nothing gets back to your boyfriend before you get a chance to talk to him.
If you two do end up deciding to go to the same college because it’s the right fit for both of you, you’re going to have to deal with rumors that you’re only going there to be with him or her. This is another time that it’s important to know the reasons behind your choices. That way, when people direct the rumor at you, you can explain to them all the reasons why the college is right for you personally. But if the rumors continue, it’s also good to remember that you shouldn’t care what other people think as long as you really are doing what’s right for you.
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