Sophomore Julia Sando never considered going to a different college. She grew up in Webster, just 30 minutes away, and knew she would attend UR throughout high school.

“It was close and it was a good school,” she said. “My family is important to me, and I didn’t really want to leave Rochester.”

Sando is one of 126 people from the class of 2004 who come from the Rochester area. The class of 2005 enrolled 125 locals, and the class of 2003 had 118, Director of Admissions Jamie Hobba said. Making up about 13 percent of the undergraduate body, local students come from Monroe County and the five surrounding counties ? Orleans, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston and Genesee.

Some students, like Sando, specifically chose UR because of its proximity to home.

Junior Jason Wallace didn’t apply to any schools that were farther than two hours from his house.

“It’s close to home and one of the best schools in the area,” said Wallace, who lives in Henrietta.

Born at Highland Hospital, senior Malik Evans has strong ties to the Rochester community. He has sat on numerous city boards. He has served as city district adviser for the YMCA, tutored at area schools and founded a city/county youth council.

“Coming to school here has showed that I can balance all that and still go to school at the same time,” Evans said. “I came here because the political science department has a good reputation.”

But other students didn’t stay close to home on purpose ? they ended up in Rochester by default.

Junior Steve Sedita, from Penfield, came to UR because he received a lot of financial aid. Senior Andy Vasicek, a resident of Greece, chose UR because it was nationally ranked and also offered him scholarship money.

“It can be a pain with your parents close if you make it that, but otherwise it can be really convenient,” Vasicek said.

Local students say they have the best of both worlds ? they can hang out on campus or at home.

“It’s far enough so I don’t have to see my family if I don’t want to, but there’s the possibility,” said junior Steve Forbes, who has lived in Irondequoit his whole life.

“I’d be farther away from home [if I went elsewhere], but I wouldn’t feel any more independent than I do here,” Sedita said.

Sando only goes home for the major holidays, but her parents come to Rochester to have dinner about once every two weeks.

“My parents don’t come down at the drop of a hat, but I can go home whenever I want,” she said.

Many say being close to home has not detracted from their involvement in the UR community.

“I’m close to home, but I’ve been living on campus for four years,” Evans said. “U of R is its own little community itself.”

Even Wallace, who lives at home with his family, feels like part of the school. Wallace is an off-floor member of the Music Interest Floor and is involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Chemical Engineering Society.

“There are a lot of advantages [to living at home],” Wallace said. “I get free breakfasts and home-cooked meals, I get my laundry done, I have my own quiet room, I can see my parents and my dog and I get to have a car.

“Sometimes I do want to live [on campus], but the [it] is just too expensive,” he said.

But Forbes, who visits local friends three to four times a week, thinks knowing the area has distanced him from the UR community.

“I’m here less than most people,” he said. “I don’t really have to make friends or be involved here. I can go elsewhere if I want.”

Growing up in Rochester has given these students an edge of sorts. Before they even began their freshman year, they knew where to get the best garbage plate and which bars don’t ID.

“I’m usually telling other people where to go,” Sando said. “It’s fun to share things like good food places and good coffee places with people when they ask.”

“I like knowing my way around and I don’t feel cooped up on campus like some people,” Wallace said.

Surprisingly, Sando, Vasicek and Wallace all say that one of their favorite things about Rochester is the weather. “I love the randomness of the weather,” Sando said.

Some students even plan to stay in the area after graduation. Sando will probably end up in Rochester for graduate school. Evans has already accepted a job at M&T bank in Rochester.

“I know [Rochester] and I don’t really want to learn anywhere else,” Sando said. “I’m not really a change person. I like being familiar with where I am.”

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