5 Tips On How To Deal With Being Homesick In College

college student wearing a backpack sitting on a bench alone

For college students that leave home, it is normal to experience being homesick. Whether students are a few hours away from home, moving out of state, or across the country, all can feel some level of homesickness. College life is going to be enormously different than life at home. There will be new people, experiences, and responsibilities, and many college students may feel overwhelmed and miss the comforts of their homes and families.

What Is Homesickness

Homesickness is a feeling that someone gets when they leave what they are used to. It can cause stress and anxiety. Not only is there separation anxiety there is a grieving process too. A student may mourn the loss of their routine, home, family, friends, pets, and their community. It’s very emotional leaving all that you’ve known.

College is a huge transition from the familiar to the unfamiliar. This abrupt shift paired with the adjustment to life as a college student takes some getting used to. There are some tips and strategies that students can use to deal with the distress and effects of being homesick while they are in college.

So without any further ado, here are my top tips to cope with being homesick at college…

1. Acknowledge That Your Feelings Are Normal

Being homesick while in college is completely normal. According to a study by UCLA, about 70% of freshmen students experience being homesick. For most students, this is the first time they are on their own. Therefore, it is understandable if you miss your family, friends, and even pets.

Students respond differently to change. Going to college is going to bring a lot of changes to every student’s life. College brings a new location, new people, new cultures, new subjects, and starting a new routine. Some students may feel anxious or stressed from these changes. Any change can be difficult, regardless of how small or big or if it’s a positive change.

Some students experiencing homesickness may simply be due to trying to cope with change. Adjusting will take time and will require you to create and get used to a new routine. In the beginning, you may have trouble sleeping or feel lonely. This is very normal. Know that you are not alone, other students are experiencing homesickness and each student experiences it differently.

2. Reach Out To Other Students For Support

I promise you, you’re not the only student on campus experiencing being homesick. Reach out to other students and you might find they are feeling the same way. Start a discussion or a friendship. Often, it will help just to talk about home life and share with someone.

As you make friends in college, you will be able to support each other and help each other through college-related matters. The Benefits Of Making Friends With College Classmates are enormous. They will not only be good study partners, but they can also help you cope with college life.

Also, reach out to older students, such as your resident advisor or someone within your major. They will be able to tell you about how they dealt with homesickness. They most likely have gone through what you are going through and can be a great resource.

3. Create A Routine

When starting college, you will be in a completely different routine. In high school, your schedule was very structured and each day was very similar. Classes started at the same time, breakfast and lunch were scheduled, and after-school activities or practices were planned. College classes are not as structured and consistent. They will change from day to day.

While in college each day will look different and each semester or quarter you will have a new class schedule. For example, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you may have a class that starts at 9 am while on Tuesdays and Thursdays, your first class may start at 1 pm. This can be difficult for new college students to adjust to. Therefore, it’s important to create a routine. By creating a routine life as a student starts to feel more manageable and familiar. 

While you were in high school, you woke up at the same time every day. I recommend that you do this in college as well. Regardless of the time your first class starts, wake up at the same time each morning. It will feel familiar and will help you to establish your routine. If you are used to playing sports or participating in certain hobbies after school. Include time in your schedule for these familiar activities. It will not only feel good to do something that you did at home, but it’s also a great way to meet fellow students and develop friendships.

female college student sitting in a chair reading a magazine about career and graduate school

4. Give Yourself Time To Adjust

Homesickness is one of those things that eases with time. It will take time to adjust to new people and your new environment. Try and stay positive and embrace the experience and journey that is college.

If your homesickness becomes too much reach out to the counseling center. All colleges have resources available to help their students. There will be professionals who are dedicated to providing students with the support they need as they pursue their academic goals. Counseling is free and completely confidential.

5. Stay In Touch With Friends And Family

Staying in touch does wonders for homesickness. Technology makes it so easy to contact your friends and family, so take advantage of the ability to touch base. If you are missing someone, they are probably missing you too. Texting, calling, or video chatting with those back home can help you feel like you’re still a part of your old life.

If you attend a college or university that is over a couple of hours from home, it may be difficult to return home frequently. However, there are spring and winter breaks that will allow you enough time to return home and catch up. If your college is nearby, you may be able to use your weekend to visit your friends and family.

Trips home can trigger some feelings of homesickness after you return to college. It’s important to find a way to balance being at college and returning home. Make your college your home away from home so that you can feel comfortable.

Be sure to check out why Family Support When Going To College is a must.