According to a study prepared by the UCLA Higher Education Institute, feeling homesick at college is normal. This is especially true for college kids away from home in their first year or two of college. Homesickness at college is mostly due to a “lack of security and familiarity” writes Abby Payne in an article published September 18th, 2016 in the national edition of The Deseret News. Abby suggests 4 tips on how to deal with homesickness. They are:
- Realize being homesick is 100% normal.
- Build yourself a friend-family.
- Get involved with something you love.
- Cry once in a while (and be kind to yourself).
This by no means a complete list of how to deal with homesickness. I have added one other idea at the end of this article as an additional method in dealing with homesick college students.
Realize Feeling Homesick at College is 100 % Normal
Recognition that you are homesick and acknowledging it is the first step to dealing with it. The UCLA study cited that 69% of 1st year college students are homesick. In the article, a Duke University professor of psychology and neuroscience, Dr. Mike Leary suggests new freshman talk to other new freshmen to connect with each other. Realizing that you are not the only homesick freshman in your school can be a comforting feeling. Talking with others about it as suggested by Dr. Leary, would help the student realize “being homesick is not a sign of personal short coming”. Dealing with it with others who have the same feelings and challenges, creates strength in numbers.
Build Yourself a Friend-Family
Jessica Pan in Teen Vogue wrote “we get it – meeting new people isn’t always easy. But banishing homesickness sometimes means tapping into your inner social butterflyness and getting to know a new group of people.” While this is easily said, it is not always easily done. For some students it is easier to hide than try to make new friends. My suggestion for making new friends is derived from the basic reason why they are in college to begin with, to learn and study. Most students want to do well on their grades in school. One way to make friends is to form study groups with your classmates. Two birds with one stone would apply here. Your chances of improving your grasp of the college class curriculum increases and your chances of building your circle of friends grows.
Get Involved With Something You Love
According to Kelci Lynn Lucier of U.S. News suggests that one of the worst things a homesick freshman might do is stay home after class and after work. Getting involved outside of the classroom in something the student is passionate about would provide an excellent distraction to being homesick. It’s like when a young child is feeling hurt and is crying. One of the best methods I found to stop the crying is to get their mind onto something else. The same is true here. One caution would be that the outside passion doesn’t distract from doing their best at their school work.
Cry Once In A While (and Be Kind to Yourself)
It is okay to feel sad missing home, so let it out with a good cry because again, feeling homesick at college is normal. Lucier said, “After all, there are probably legitimate things about being home that anyone in your situation would miss”. Based on most cafeteria food at school, that alone would make almost anyone miss mom or a family’s loving embrace.
Having two kids in college myself, and my last two at that, the feelings of “missing them” goes two ways. Setting up regular communication is good for both students and parents if handled in a healthy way. In today’s society, it is rare that a college student doesn’t have the technology capability of high tech communication. Face Time, Google Hangout, and Skype all have the ability to allow for parents and students to stay connected. Personally, we have one daughter and one son away at school. We connect more frequently with our daughter probably because of the “Venus vs Mars” phenomenon. It has been healthy for us as parents and for our son and daughter as we communicate with them about their studies and activities, and express our love for them. It also gives us opportunities to see how the money we are spending on their education is used. More importantly though, expressing encouragement to” keep at it” will pay great dividends in the future as they see their education through to the end. This regular and appropriate dose of “security and familiarity” from home will help your student realize that your relationships have not be severed but can be strengthened by the separation.