There are several things college students can do to ward off bouts of homesickness, according to Nora Bradbury-Haehl, youth minister at St. Paul Parish in Webster. Bradbury-Haehl recently wrote The Freshman Survival Guide, which will be published in May 2010 by Hachette Book Group and in the meantime may be viewed online at www.BustedHalo.com. Parents also can take steps to ease their children’s homesickness, noted Krista Tyner, former residence-hall director at SUNY Brockport and a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spencerport.
Tips for students:
- Avoid going home, Bradbury-Haehl suggested.
"If you can tough it out, you should. Even though it might seem like a great idea to have a quick visit home, leaving on weekends will be a bigger setback because you’ll miss out on connecting with new people and plugging into campus life and activities," she said.
Join at least one club or group on campus and participate.
"You’ll meet new people away from your dorm, which will be good later in the semester when you all need a break from each other," Bradbury-Haehl said.
- Try campus ministry.
"It will be different from your parish back home, but give it a try," she said. "Once is not enough. You’ve got to give yourself a chance to get used to it. There will be enough that’s familiar, and it can be a great anchor to your week."
Tips for parents:
- Be patient and encouraging.
"Accept the fact that the transition to living away from home may be very difficult for your child," Tyner said. "Encourage your child to step outside their comfort zone and be patient. Coming home every weekend will not help your child become more acquainted with school."
- Don’t solve your child’s problems with roommates or other on-campus issues.
"Resist the urge to act on their behalf. If your son or daughter has a difficult roommate, encourage them to talk to their roommate. If that isn’t possible, encourage them to talk to their resident assistance or residence-hall director. Acting on their behalf will not help them navigate the situation," Tyner said.
- Offer support in creative ways.
"Getting mail at school is always exciting, so send a note of encouragement or a goody package from home. Include photos and updates of what’s going on. Even though your child can’t be there every day, they at least can feel like part of the family," Tyner said.
- Don’t hover.
"It may be tempting for parents to check up, but they should be careful not to hover. Reassure them that you know they can do it, but as much as possible let them be the one to contact you," Bradbury-Haehl said.