Tips for Parents
How To Help Your Homesick Student
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By Ashley Paskill, Uloop
While some students are able to live at home and commute to their college or university, others have to live on campus. For many students, this is their first time away from home for an extended period of time. This can bring about homesickness, even if they are excited about starting their new adventure. As parents, there are ways you can help them adjust and cope with their homesickness.
Send them a care package
Everyone loves getting mail, and for a college student missing home, there is nothing better than a care package from their loved ones. If they moved to a different city or state, send them things that remind them of home so that they have a piece of it with them. Be sure to check with your student’s college to see if there are any rules about what the student can and cannot have in their dorm. Hand-written letters, food, money, and thoughtful gifts are great and safe things to include in the package.
Call or text, but also give them space
While it can be heartbreaking to hear the sadness of homesickness in their voice and read their emotions in their texts, resist the urge to constantly check in on your student. It is important for your student to learn how to deal with emotions in a healthy way and to learn from their college experience. Set up a designated time each day where you can call the student. If something arises and they need to text you, allow it, but also be sure to give them space to learn and grow. After all, that is why they are in college. Do not feel the need to respond to each and every text the moment it lands in your phone’s inbox, especially if it is not a dire emergency.
Visit them sometimes if possible
Visiting your student may not be feasible if you live across the country or even on the other side of the world, those who live within a reasonable distance from their student may be able to visit every once in a while. Many colleges have parent weekends where parents can stay on campus with their students for the weekend, allowing students to show their parents around the campus while spending time with loved ones. However, try to avoid visiting every weekend so that your student has the opportunity to attend campus events and branch out more to help make their campus their home.
Encourage them to get involved on campus
It is difficult to not want to smother your student with love as they deal with homesickness, but if you make yourself too available, they will never fully embrace all that college offers. Encourage them to join a campus organization, go to social events, or even just make new friends in their classes. While they may still miss home, finding new experiences and people to fill their time with will make their college feel like home. You hate that they miss home and want them to come home, but encourage them to go to sports games and other events on weekends instead of always coming home.
As a parent, dropping your child off at college is emotional, especially if is their first semester. You have gotten used to seeing them all the time and they are suddenly no longer living under your roof. It is a huge adjustment for you as well and hearing that your student is struggling only adds to your sadness. However, when you do talk to your student, stay positive. They may be tempted even more to call it quits and come home without giving college a fair chance. Be encouraging and remind them that you love them. Tell them to embrace all that college life has to offer and to seek out counseling on campus if needed. Remind them that homesickness will not last forever and getting involved on campus will help it feel like home.
Avoid the urge to allow them to come home for good
As mentioned above, it may be tempting to allow your student to quit college and come home after just a couple weeks. It is a huge adjustment for parents and students alike, but it is important to give college a fair chance. Encourage them to give it a chance, reminding them that such a big change takes some getting used to. If things do not seem to be improving after a month or two of them being in college, it may be that the campus is not the right campus for them. Before making this decision with your student, ensure that they actually did put in the effort to get involved and make new friends. If they did not make an honest effort, do not let them come home. When discussing it, ask for concrete examples to ensure that they are not just saying they made an attempt to get used to the adjustment.
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