College and Homesickness
Homesickness and College: The Symptoms
While many college students experience homesickness, few students say it affects their studies. The 2008 American College Health Association's national survey of college students found that homesickness was a minor factor - just 4.2 percent - when it came to overall academic performance.
Still, it can and does affect many students. What does homesickness feel like? Here are some of the warning signs:
- Constantly thinking about home
- Decreased motivation
- Feeling different from others who seem to be having a good time
- Missing the people, things, and places associated with home
- A negative outlook
- Social withdrawal
- Wishing for a connection with someone who will make everything feel better
Don't confuse homesickness with depression; college students who are homesick will go home and find that their negative feelings lift. A person who is depressed won't experience this type of relief whether they go home for a few days or get involved in a favorite activity.
Homesickness and College: Steps to Feel Better
Here's what you can do to lift your mood while you adjust to college life:
- Realize homesickness is a normal feeling.
- Allow time to get used to your new home environment.
- Talk about your feelings with friends, family, a resident assistant, or counselor.
- Post pictures and things from home in your room.
- Make plans to visit home, keeping in mind that you will be returning to school.
- Get involved in campus activities.
- Don't ignore your feelings or try to drown them by drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or participating in any type of risky behavior.
- Learn what helps you relax - it might be deep breathing exercises, music, or exercise.
- Be realistic when it comes to your expectations about college. Remember that you must relax and play a bit in addition to studying, or you'll burn out. Structure your time and work toward finding a healthy balance.