It is that time of year when midterms are in full swing, and college students are juggling a large amount of stress. Students will handle stress in different ways. Some will venture towards off-campus parties to let off steam, others will hit the gym for multiple hours per day, and others will have panic attacks and miss the comforts of home. This is when the “I want to come home” phone call will occur.
There are several reasons a student could become homesick, but stress is often the culprit. Homesickness occurs when a student misses the comforts of home which often makes the harder things in life more bearable. Not only does your student miss their parents, siblings and friends from home, they miss the comforts which go along with it such as hugs from parents, a favorite meal cooked on a hard day, their favorite spot on the sofa, and so on. These are the small comforts which often reduced stress for your student when they lived at home. Now that they are living on a college campus or in an apartment near their school, they no longer have the stress relieving comforts they grew up with, this can cause homesickness in your child.
The ”I want to come home” phone call is something colleges warn parents about the summer before their student starts freshman year. It is a common occurrence which may only happen during freshman year or could continue throughout your student’s college career. It all depends upon how they handle stress and their personality.
So, when this phone call happens, and your child is crying on the other end, how do you handle it? First off, stay calm. This is not the time to jump in the car or on a plane and rescue your child from school. This is a time to calmly ask questions to find out what really is causing their homesickness. Secondly, remind them of when you will see them again. Are you going to Parent’s Weekend or is fall or spring break coming up? These are occasions to remind them of how close in time it is when you will see them again.
Stay in close contact. If your child texts or calls you, reply back so they are assured you are there for them. Be the one they can count on to help them find ways to de-stress. Give them ideas such as taking walks, going to the gym, meeting up with friends for meals. All of these things can help alleviate stress.
Another way to help with that homesick feeling is to establish a routine at school which offers comforts for your student. Does you student have a favorite comfort food? Find a restaurant on campus or off-campus which your student can go to on weekends for comfort food. Put some extra money in their bank account so they can grab comfort food on Friday night, this way they won’t stress about using their laundry money for a meal off campus.
Get involved at school. The easiest way to ward off homesickness is to make new memories. Join clubs and attend on campus activities. This is a great way to make new friends and find activities away from academics which will help alleviate stress and make your child forget how much they miss home.
Keep them involved with the family. Have a group chat where you can share good news with the family. Pick a night when your student can Facetime or Zoom with the family and catch up, as well as share their life on campus. One reason your student can feel homesick is feeling left out. Make sure they know they are still part of your family and are involved in your family life. Don’t let them become a stranger.
Things you can ship to your student when they are feeling homesick:
When your student is upset, stay calm and remind them of these ways to ward off homesickness and relieve stress. It will help your student feel more at home at school. They may still miss you, depending on their personality, but if you can support them emotionally and stay calm, you can help give them the tools to find their own way in their new environment; even it lasts all four years!