By Clarissa Pompa | Reporter
The college process is long and does not end until you get your diploma. It starts with an application, leads to an acceptance, sometimes moving away from home, meeting new friends and enjoying the unknown. Many students hit some or all of those points but for some Baylor students, moving away from home looks a little different.
Abby Bennett, a senior social work major, is from Waco and grew up 15 minutes away from campus. Bennet did not originally want to attend Baylor. She was hoping to enroll at Dallas Baptist University.
“My family kind of went through a family emergency my senior year,” Bennet said. “I needed to be close to home and my plan was to transfer. I fell in love with Baylor, and I ended up staying.”
For Bennett, attending Baylor meant setting some boundaries with her family. She told her father to treat this time as if she was in Dallas. She decided to visit home only twice a semester, despite how easy it would have been to visit. However, even as she set boundaries, her family found it a hard transition.
“They would be like, ‘oh can you pick your brother up from school and take him to do this thing,’” Bennett said. “I would have to say, ‘Hey, I recognize you’re in a bind and I’m happy to help this one time but it’s like I’m in Dallas.’”
On the other hand, Bennett knows that she has a unique opportunity in living so close to home. She has a safety net in case something were to go wrong. There was an instance where her car battery died and help was just a phone call and 15 minutes away.
“There’s definitely a huge difference in things like that,” Bennett said. “When something all of a sudden pops up and people call their parents and their parents are like, ‘I live four hours away. I’ll talk you through this problem but you’re gonna have to figure it out on your own’ kind of deal.”
Where Bennett developed boundaries in order to soak in the Baylor experience, Kylie Akin, a pre-business freshman from McGregor, found that having family nearby was exactly what she wanted to combine with her college experience. Akin has attended dance competitions for her sister and realized that despite previously wanting to leave Waco, “it wasn’t worth not going to Baylor just because I thought that I wanted to leave Waco.”
“I have the opportunity to go home if need be,” Akin said. “it’s also nice having my family here to take my friends home with me just so they can have a sense of home here in Waco too.”
Akin and her family have opened their home to Akin’s peers for movie nights and home cooked meals. She finds it rewarding to show her new friends around the Waco that she knows, while acknowledging that it is not the Waco she is getting to know now.
“It feels like a completely different Waco than my home Waco was,” Akin said. “It’s like completely different being on campus … It really does feel like almost two separate places, like my home Waco and my Baylor Waco.”
Whether it is introducing their friends to the town they grew up in, to visiting home more or less than their peers, Bennett and Akin’s college experience differs from out-of-town students only in the ways that they let it. They miss their families like the average student but the solution is easier.
“It’s different from the college experience of your friend from California,” Bennett said. “ But it’s still a college experience. It’s all about how much you put in.”