For freshmen going off to college, the first weeks on campus can be filled with heady excitement. But as things settle down and the newness wears off, it’s easy for homesickness to set in.
Anxiety, sadness and an overwhelming yearning for friends and loved ones who are now far away – all are hallmarks of homesickness. These feelings can become so intense that a student may feel extremely isolated or even want to drop out of school.
But many students can come out on the other side of homesickness after a few weeks and have a satisfying college experience if they take certain steps to build a new life for themselves. Here are some tips for new college students (or their parents):
Talk about these feelings. Surveys have found that the majority of college students experience a bout of homesickness during freshman year. Most universities have health centers where students can meet with counselors and work through this issue. For students in dorms, they may feel more comfortable seeking out the resident adviser for peer-to-peer counseling. Students should never feel they are alone when it comes to experiencing homesickness; it’s a natural reaction, especially for teens who haven’t been on their own before.
Call home weekly (not daily). Calling or emailing parents frequently may feel like it helps homesickness in the short term, but it really just increases the student’s reliance on home: The more the student talks to their parents, the more they’ll miss them. Students shouldn’t cut off all communication, but a good way to do it is for parents to suggest setting up regular times for weekly calls. The student knows they’ll get that time to reconnect with family, but they’ll also have the freedom to develop independence and self-reliance in their new environment.
Join a club. Making new friends is key to creating a support system on campus, and a club is a great way to find people with similar interests. Students should also make the effort to get to know classmates and dormmates in social settings.
Find new interests. College is a time of discovery, of learning new things and finding new passions, and that process of discovery can help take students’ minds off homesickness. Students should make sure to build these pursuits into their college routine – go to foreign films, join a yoga class, visit a museum, attend lectures on interesting subjects. There are so many options, and as a bonus, many venues will offer student discounts to make…