The transition to college for most students doesn’t always go as seamlessly as they imagined. Yes, there is the excitement of being on your own and experiencing everything college has to offer from the parties, to the social life, to the new environment itself. But for many students who will be away from home for the very first time, those thoughts become secondary as soon as they see their parents pull out of that dorm parking lot.
The allure of building new relationships, finding one’s passion, and exploring all the academic and social opportunities readily available at their fingertips is a life changing experience many college freshmen dream of as they begin their college journey. However, the shock of having to do that independently without the support system of their family and friends in a new environment can be a daunting task psychologically.
Homesickness is real. And when it’s not addressed accordingly, it can cripple a student’s psyche and induce a level of anxiety that has the potential to derail their college journey before it even begins. Fortunately, however, there are a number of different ways to combat this issue to help freshmen adapt to college life much quicker. Additionally, when students realize they’re not alone, they can deal with homesickness directly.
- Familiarize yourself with the campus as quickly as possible and research the services your college or university has to offer. This can be anything from putting a support system in place—counseling and tutoring services, or setting up a meeting with your advisor—to mapping out a route to ensure you make it to their classes on time. Or take it a step further and join a number of the freshmen-based clubs and organizations designed to get students involved and acclimated to the city and campus life. The more students learn about where they can go or who they can turn to, the better they can cope on their own. It also gives them a better chance to live out those college dreams, step outside of their comfort zones, and become a real part of the community.
- The little things to combat homesickness matter too. Decorating your room might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but it can go a long way towards making you feel comfortable in your new dorm or apartment. Bring a slice of home to your college life. This can also serve as a nice icebreaker with your roommate, who is probably experiencing the same feelings and going through the same issues. As students start out their new college journeys, they feel the pressure of making new memories and leaving the past behind. But remembering where you came from and what you still have can help facilitate those new memories to come, particularly if you have items or a little reminder from home that doesn’t make everything feel brand new.
- Embrace the unknown and stop pretending. If you’re struggling, you need to ask questions and let it be known. Additionally, just because you are away from home doesn’t mean your support system is gone. Weekly check-ins with family and friends to start is a good thing—especially since parents, in particular, have a hard time with leaving their babies behind! With that being said, panicking and keeping things within only make the homesickness grow and linger longer.
With a little bit of openness and honesty (and some pre-planning to expect the negative feelings that will come along with the great ones), you can enter college knowing that the initial homesickness will be temporary. It’s just another one of those transitional phases of the college experience! Good luck, and remember that your family, friends, and even ESM counselors and mentors are all great resources to turn to for a bit of support whenever you need it.