Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

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
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased motivation
  • Feeling different from others who seem to be having a good time
  • Irritability
  • Loneliness
  • Missing the people, things, and places associated with home
  • A negative outlook
  • Sadness
  • 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.

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