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Going to college: Dealing with homesickness

Students getting papers back
Students getting papers back
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” -- Alan Watts

It is estimated that over 18 million Americans are students at degree-granting institutions ( That is a lot of people making the transition back to college, and many for the first time. Many new and returning students experience homesickness and find the transition difficult.

To attend a certain college or university, many students change cities, states and even countries. Many move away from home for the first time and are met with numerous changes such as having to care for oneself (e.g., arranging for meals, doing one’s laundry), having more freedom, meeting new people and engaging in novel experiences.

Feeling homesick is very common among college students. Some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Feeling sad, lonely and/or depressed
  • Thinking about home and people at home frequently
  • Feelings of anxiety about separation from loved ones
  • Wanting to go home every weekend
  • Anxiety about one’s performance
  • Feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Feeling different from others, thinking everyone else is having a great time and not struggling

There are things to try on your own that often help alleviate the symptoms of homesickness (adapted from

  1. Get involved. Join a team, group or club on campus. Try intramural sports, attend campus events, and stick around on the weekends to meet more people and attend weekend events sponsored by the college/university. Being involved in activities will help occupy your time and allow you to make more friends.
  2. Explore. Get to know your campus and surrounding community. Check with your RA, upperclassman or a professor who knows the local are and community well to get suggestions on where to eat, hang out, etc. Once your environment becomes familiar to you, your feelings of homesickness should start to lessen.
  3. Find a new hobby. To help take your mind off of home and feelings of homesickness, get involved in a new hobby. Consider joining a club or team on campus that you have interest in. Ask your roommate (if you have one) if he/she would like to join you.
  4. Make your dorm room yours. It might sound silly (or impossible) but try to make your dorm room a place you are comfortable in that is cozy, relaxing, and feels like home, or at least a second home. Many students will display pictures or other memorabilia from home or high school to make their rooms more personal.
  5. Keep in touch with family and friends. Keep in touch with your family and friends from home through phone calls, e-mails, Skype, letters, etc. Just make sure to limit how often you contact them (and they contact you) to get used to becoming more independent and acclimated to being on your own.
  6. Talk about your feelings with others. Many college students, especially freshmen, experience feelings of homesickness. You will most likely learn that many others feel similarly when you open up and share your struggles. Those students who used to be homesick can share with you what help them overcome it.

The tips mentioned above should help lessen your feelings of homesickness, but if they do not work, keep in mind most colleges and Universities have a counseling center staffed with one or more trained mental health professionals that can speak to you about your concerns and help you work through them while offering support. Typically, these services are free or are offered at a low cost. Your RA can also talk with you and help you get connected with campus support services.

For more information:
The Jed Foundation

WNY Links
This page provides links to the 22 universities and colleges of the Western New York region.


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