At this point in the semester, students often struggle with homesickness, adjusting to roommates and learning to manage their school work. The excitement of their new experiences wears off and things are more difficult for them. While this is very normal for students, it can be hard for parents to watch their children struggle, especially when they are far away.
“One thing I hope students understand about homesickness is that it's totally normal,” said Anu Tufuga, coordinator of student connection and completion at Southern Utah University. “Having come from Hawaii for my undergrad, I remember saying the words, ‘Mom, I want to come home.’ I didn't realize at the time however that it was less of 'home' that I was missing and more of that connection and warmth. The moment I made friends and got involved, the easier it was for me to enjoy my college experience while still maintaining healthy relationships at home.”
For students feeling homesick or struggling with the end of the semester, here are a few tips to give your child the mental, emotional and physical support they need:
Listen to their feelings
One of the best ways to help your student is to simply listen and support them. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to and a safe place to express his or her feelings. It might not be necessary to offer feedback or suggestions, just understanding.
If you do find that they could use some help, you might offer them advice on time management, maintaining health, or managing stress in college.
Let your student know that you believe in them
Above all, let them know that you support them and believe in them. Family encouragement is important for any college student and they want to know that you care. This will help them feel the love from home and be even more confident in college.
Reach out to the Parent & Family Services office any time your student needs something.
Encourage them to stay on campus
While it might feel like a good solution to have them home, encourage your student to stay on campus and get involved. Increasing independence is one of the goals of attending college and this is a part of the process of becoming an adult.
Suggest that they take some time to get involved on campus, by attending a club meeting, volunteering or joining a study group. Students who are more involved are happier — and better — students.
Encourage your child to get to know the campus or explore new places. The more familiar they are with the campus, the more it will start to feel like home.
Know the university is here to support your student every step of the way
Remind your student to use the resources available on campus, whether it be taking advantage of faculty office hours, the writing center or study groups, campus faculty and staff, or the Counseling and Psychological Services, these people are here to help.
Remind your student to reach out to orientation leaders, meet with resident assistants, or meet with their professors. These people are trained to support students adjust to college and can help your student feel more at home. There are so many resources available, help your student use them.
Going to college is a big turning point in a student’s life and struggling with homesickness is a normal part of the experience. Just remember to support them in any way you can, and give them room to grow.