Every fall, many college students leave home to start another significant chapter of their lives. When moving out, feeling homesick is a normal response, and this is a fairly common college experience.
Because of the new environment and new surroundings, around 19% to 70% of college students experience homesickness at some point during their college life. First-year students are the most vulnerable, making up 94% to 96% of the college population.
Is It Normal to Feel Homesick in College?
Homesickness is completely normal in college! When you leave a familiar home environment, there comes the point when you will feel a sense of loss for your loved ones, friends, and family. Some even go through negative emotions like sadness or grief.
Every student dreams of finally leaving home and going to college. After all, that’s the time you get to see fresh faces and meet new friends. But after a while, the excitement wears off.
The discomfort eventually sets in. Before you know it, you barely have an idea which college building your classes hold; you’re always lost on your way to brick buildings, and your dorm suddenly feels like it’s filled with total strangers.
Signs That You Are Homesick
During this time, it slowly dawned upon you that you can’t even last a week dealing with the overwhelming feeling of getting to school. You start to lose interest.
You begin to miss your parents. You are missing home. But you are not alone. Especially for first-year students, campus life is tough. Aside from these, what are the signs that you are missing home?
You wish to be home every weekend.
Homesick students have the constant desire to go home every weekend. Maybe you miss your dog, your parents, or your old friends. Doing this can only make homesickness worse. If you can, try not to go home right away.
According to the Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services therapist Katharine Staley, going home every weekend or every time you are experiencing homesickness will not give you the campus feel you need to settle in.
It becomes harder for you to connect to the activities on campus. In the end, this will just make the situation worse. You need to take some time to settle in on campus life, and this means not going home every weekend.
You isolate yourself or prefer to eat alone.
A homesick college student prefers to eat alone. Although a solitary meal is fine once in a good while, dining alone indicates homesickness and is not good for your mental health.
Other students can even go as far as isolating themselves. But to survive college, you need to make a conscious effort to make friends.
To combat homesickness, you need to connect to other students. Get out of your dorm room. Get involved on campus. Try to make the first move. Who knows, the people you meet might have feelings of homesickness as well, and this is the perfect way for you to be each other’s support system.
You experience FOMO.
Nothing inspires FOMO (fear of missing out) like social media. Visiting different social media platforms, especially during the first semester, and seeing images of college students in your school having the best time of their college life can spark homesickness even more.
People put their best foot forward on Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook. After a while, you start to feel anxious about being in college. You feel like the new routines, and new environment is not connecting with you at all.
Remind yourself that those happy photos of other students on their social media sites do not show the whole picture. Instead of feeling homesick and wanting to visit home, use the internet to seek campus resources about club invitations or meetings.
You feel like crying all the time because you miss home.
Constant tearfulness is a sign that you are missing home. College students who have experience in summer camps or boarding prep schools might feel it less.
But others, like international students, deal with homesickness pretty intensely. Nonetheless, it is okay to feel homesick and uncomfortable.
But this doesn’t mean something is wrong. To alleviate homesickness in college, just breathe and think about how you can tolerate and cope with this discomfort. If you’re still feeling lonely and no amount of regular phone calls to a family member will suffice, visit your school’s counseling center.
Dealing with Homesickness
Whether you are moving across the country or town, college students usually find themselves struggling in new surroundings during the first few months of school.
As you begin to settle and feel familiar with your new campus, here are some helpful tips on how you can deal with homesickness to make your college experience a more rewarding one.
Understand that your feelings are normal.
Dealing with homesickness starts with acknowledging that your feelings are normal and that, just like you, there are other students going through the same thing.
Facing your homesickness alone will make you feel even more isolated and alone. But knowing that you are not alone makes it easier for you to cope with college life, talk about these things with others, and, when necessary, get help from your school’s counseling center.
Get out of your dorm room.
No matter how comfortable you are confined in your dorm room, go out once in a while. Meet people. Check out school clubs. Get involved on your college campus. Is there a long weekend ahead? Plan for a weekend getaway with your roommates. Go grab lunch together.
There are so many ways to deal with college homesickness. All it takes is for you to get up and discover what’s in store outside the walls of your room.
Whether you’re a local or an international student, making friends in college will not only help you adapt to college life easily but also make your time in school more meaningful and fun. When you get out and meet people, you will start to feel more comfortable and at home in college.
Never forget your connections back home.
Although you are physically away from home, your parents, your friends, and your family, you are never alone. Thankfully, your loved ones back home are just a text or phone call away.
As you settle into a new city, it’s important that you remain in contact with them because this will also ease your transition as you begin to find new friends and new life on campus.
Before you know it, you’d be on that next flight going home for the winter break and finally get to see your family once again.
Reach out to others for support.
Leaving home for college and living independently tend to get overwhelming at first. But the good news is that there are also other students who share the same feelings of fear and uncertainty.
Talk to your classmates about your homesickness in college. Share how you are transitioning and adjusting to new surroundings, new routines, and new people. You can also go to older students like your resident advisor or somebody else within your field of study.
These people can help you connect to different organizations and activities that can help you make new friends and gather support networks. They can even endorse you to the proper people in case you need help with mental health concerns.
Keep yourself busy.
Once you settle into your new environment, homesickness in college will eventually get better. Keep yourself busy to make time fly by. Get out of your room and check what your community and college campus have to offer.
You usually have up to a week to settle in before college classes begin, so make sure to make the most of your first days on campus.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is homesickness in college?
Feeling homesick is very common for a new college student. In a study by UCLA, roughly 70% of students experience homesickness in college.
How long will a homesick college student suffer?
Feelings of homesickness can last between a few weeks and several months during the first academic year of a college student. Homesickness may also return, even after you believe you have finally gotten over those feelings.
Will it help to just go home regularly?
It is important to keep in touch with those who can help you adjust to college. If your home is close enough, you can come back occasionally, like during holiday weekends or at important events, so you can spend it with friends and family. However, it is best to make a conscious effort to stay on campus so you can continue to meet people and build relationships.
The feelings of homesickness show up in many ways: lack of appetite, sleeping troubles, anxiety, and even tears. When not properly addressed, this can impact your mental health and productivity.
If this happens, look for campus resources and talk to your college physician or counselors. Many colleges today have counseling centers aimed at helping their students with mental health concerns.