Homesickness in college is a very common thing. Often times a college student has not only dove into a world of new stresses and responsibilities, but at the same time have distanced themselves from their primary source of support (their friends and family). Problem is though, with such a high level of stress and such a distant support group, a typical college student is prone to making, shall we say, not the best decisions.
And it is there that we reach one of the biggest issues of college: depression. Depression in college tends to hit hard and without warning (especially around a holiday like Valentine’s Day), and since homesickness is one of the biggest contributing factors to depression, here are a few ways you can help your college student cope with the inevitable feeling of homesickness.
1.) Offer to listen. This isn’t a time to attempt to solve all of your child’s problems. One of the main perks of going off to college is the freedom to develop into an adult without the overbearing supervision of their parents. Of course you’d love to make their life easier (you are their parents, after all), but attempting at solutions can be perceived as judging, or worse yet, believing your child can’t solve the problem on their own.
Instead, lend an ear and refrain from offering solutions. Your son doesn’t know how they’re going to get through all the homework a teacher has been assigning? Ask about what the other students do for help. Your daughter just broke up with her high school sweetheart? Let her know you’ll be there to talk about it whenever she wants.
2.) Care packages. It seems so simple (and I admit, a bit corny), but care packages work wonders. A little something from home (some homemade cookies, pictures or a video of the family pet and a handwritten letter are unbelievably helpful to a homesick student. And even though you can put pictures on Facebook and send them an email, taking the time to print the pictures out and send a card makes anyone feel special, especially when they may be feeling so isolated in the first place.
3.) Support. One of the biggest reasons college students become distanced with their parents is that they feel their parents won’t support their decisions. Many parents support their child’s first major (engineering, art, etc) but then act surprised or caught off guard if the student wants to switch or leave school altogether. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with changing a major. Determining what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re 18 is incredibly difficult (not to mention completely unrealistic). Even the idea of dropping out of school isn’t completely outlandish. There are always options to go back, and many people have found that taking some time off to save some money was the best choice they could’ve ever made.
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