Tackling Homesickness While Away at College

Years of anticipation have led up to this.  You picked out the perfect dorm decor, you organized your favorite high school photos, you texted and video chatted with your roommate anxiously awaiting meeting in person, and, of course, you got ready to say goodbye to your friends and family.

Going off to college is an enormous milestone; however, the excitement surrounding this transition can also be accompanied by feelings of loss associated with leaving home.  If you find yourself feeling down after watching your parents pull away post move-in day, you are not alone.  In fact, you are in good company.

An article by NBC News in 2015 cited a study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) which estimated that 69% of first year college students report experiencing feelings of homesickness.

A recent study indicated that while a certain degree of homesickness is expected upon transitioning to college, severe homesickness can have detrimental effects on a student’s academic performance. Therefore, if you are feeling the homesick blues, here are 5 things you can try that may help you feel a bit more connected as you settle into your new home away from home:

  • Keep your door open when you are in your dorm room and hanging out. This sends the message to neighbors that you are looking to meet others—and if your dorm is comprised of all freshmen, they are likely looking to meet new friends, too.
  • Start to find a community.
  • Check out your school’s list of student activities and groups. Most colleges and universities have clubs for every interest imaginable: from religion, to politics, movies, music, dance, art, fraternities, sororities, etc.  If you have an interest, considering joining a group with other like-minded students.
  • Keep your family updated about how you are you doing, but also try practicing your independence. Of course, tell your family if something noteworthy happened in your day, but consider beginning to use your peer community for social support.
  • Plan trips home and visits with your family, and schedule them in advance. This way, you know exactly when you will be able to see your family and friends next, which will allow you some freedom to explore your new college home in the meantime.
  • Grant yourself grace. It is OK to take a day or two to be sad. That said, if you find yourself struggling to go to classes or social activities, consider seeking mental health services.  Your college counseling center is a wonderful resource—they could connect you with a counselor onsite or a therapist in the community.

Resources:

https://utair.tdl.org/utair/bitstream/handle/10106/26493/Homesickness%20at%20College.pdf?sequence=1 

Freshman Homesickness: What You Can Do to Combat This Common Malady