You don't have to go away to college to get the true college experience. Hear it from one of our students!

My name is Mackenzie Barger and I grew up in Chaffee, Missouri, a small town about 20 minutes away from Cape Girardeau. I am currently a senior studying vocal music and public relations here at SEMO. I am a member of Greek life and choir, and I like to stay as involved on campus as I can.


Going to college, for a lot of people, means being on your own and away from home for the first time, but here’s why staying close to home for college was the best decision I have ever made.

/ Everything I was looking for was already right in front of me.

It was so easy to get caught up in finding a perfect university to call home for four years, that I didn’t stop to think that the perfect school was already right here at home. SEMO is an accredited university that has accredited degree programs for my majors, public relations and music. Not to mention SEMO has great student recreation facilities, an entire campus dedicated to fine arts, an easy to navigate campus, and so many student organization opportunities. I didn’t need to look any further for my perfect college experience.

/ I know the town and campus like the back of my hand.

Starting college can be scary. You’ve been in high school for the past four years, and as soon as you’re feeling comfortable, it’s time to graduate and take the next step. Going to college in a town that is only 20 minutes away from where I grew up made the changes so much easier. I got to focus on meeting new people, getting used to being a college student, and having fun at all the welcome back events on campus instead of figuring out the best local food options or how to get to my classes.

/ Homesickness - What is that?

I constantly see my friends go home to visit friends and family for the weekend. My support system is always right here, and I am easily able to visit home and my friends whenever I want to. I am always finding things to do here on campus on the weekends, so being able to stay in Cape Girardeau and not miss out on those last-minute plans is great because last-minute plans always make the best college memories.

/ Living on campus minutes from home

When I was making the decision to live on campus or at home, I was conflicted. Why did I need to move when I was already close enough to commute? After touring all of my options, and seeing what campus living was all about, I decided it was a great opportunity to get the independence I was looking forward to with starting college. I was able to make friendships with most of the people on my dorm floor, wake up and go get Starbucks with my roommates after staying up late, go on spontaneous late night food runs, and so many other things that I probably would’ve missed out on had I chosen to live at home.

Having my college experience be so close to home is what I think has made it extra special, and I am glad to be able to call SEMO and Cape Girardeau my home.