While college students are experiencing the excitement and freedom of being away from home, they can also experience college homesickness. Almost all college students experience it in one way or another, and it’s a normal sign that you are understandably missing the familiar and comfortable environment of home, family, and friends. Clarkson University works hard to help provide, especially our first year students, opportunities to meet people or find people with similar interests starting right where they live.
We work to pair roommates up who have expressed similar lifestyles and selected similar Living Learning Communities. Living Learning Communities serve as a road map for First Year Students to locate groups of people with similar interests to them, both academically and socially based. The Resident Advisors and Campus Staff/Faculty Liaisons on and associated with each floor are specifically selected in order to help provide resources or connections related to those themes, and put on programming available to all students related to the themed community. The lounges on each floor are a great place to stop by and hang out to get to know people and are open to all students, not just those who live there!
Below are some tips for the homesick college students to practice in order to help overcome their homesickness:
What you are feeling is normal and you are not alone, reach out
Homesickness is usually brought on by any rapid change, and the adjustment to college life and campus is definitely a change that takes getting used to for new students. The good news is that you’re not alone. Other new students may be feeling those same fears and uncertainties. Talk with your roommates, floormates or classmates about feeling homesick at college and support each other in your experience. You also can turn to older students, such as your Resident Advisor (RA) or Peer Educator. They can connect you to activities and organizations that can help you build friendships and support networks. They receive special training on how to support students during tough times, and many of them have had their own experiences battling homesickness. Ask them to share ideas on how they are adjusting to new routines, new surroundings, and new people.
Decorate your room
Once you connect with your roommate you can figure out who may be bringing what appliances to your new shared space. However this is also a time for you to get creative with your new room, decorating your residence hall can help you adjust to the new place. Bring items and decorations from your room back home, or have your family send a few mementos and pictures to hang on your wall. This way, you can be surrounded by familiar things, and this will help you adjust to your new space and feel more comfortable and at home in your new surroundings. During the first week of classes, the Offices of Student Life and Residence Life will be holding events where you can make or purchase items for your residential room. You can check out a list of what to bring and what not to bring on the Clarkson University Residence Life webpage just to make sure you don’t have to deal with any safety or policy violation.
Get out of your room
It may feel more comfortable to stay in your dorm room when you’re feeling down or anxious, but doing so will continue to make you feel alone or isolated. Getting out and doing things — even just getting outdoors for a walk, or hanging out in your floor lounge — does a lot to boost feelings of sadness or depression, and will also give you the opportunity to meet others and get involved on campus. Your roommate, RA, Peer Educator and the Office of Student Life can all help you find out what’s going on throughout campus. During Orientation weekend and the first week of classes especially there are an abundance of activities to do and people who want to meet you! It is okay to need a minute and step away from all that is going on, but continued isolation in your room will not help you to overcome the feeling of homesickness.
Check in with those back home, occasionally
Family and friends are thankfully just a phone call, text, or video call away, and it’s especially important as you settle into your new surroundings and routine that you can keep in touch with loved ones back home. Set up scheduled “talk times” with your family and friends a couple times a week as you get settled into your new collegiate experience. Checking in with those at home is a great way to help keep you grounded in your new experience and to talk about what you are feeling. Clarkson’s academic calendar offers breaks you can use to return home or travel to new places. However it is important to strike a balance between returning home and settling into your college home. Take advantage of opportunities to share your new community with your family or friends by inviting them to visit instead of regularly returning home. Returning home, or talking to individuals at home too frequently will keep you from going out and meeting new people, focusing on academics, or having new and engaging experiences.
Create and stick to a daily routine
Being away from your normal and familiar routine can add to the feeling of homesickness. By creating a routine in your new environment, campus life starts to feel more manageable and familiar. Things like mapping out your week’s obligations and deadlines, getting up at a similar time every morning and going to bed at a similar and reasonable time, finding time to exercise, eating regularly can all help in adapting to this new experience and environment. Making a daily routine can also include getting out and going to events where you can meet other students outside of class. Exercise, sleep and eating are all important parts in battling feelings of anxiety, depression and homesickness.
If you’re not sure how to go about making new friends and connections, try getting involved on campus. Clarkson’s campus has a lot going on, and there are always teams, activities, and clubs that give students the opportunity to connect to others while investing in their interests and hobbies. Take a look at your residence hall bulletin boards, visit and log into https://knightlife.clarkson.edu/ talk to your Resident Advisor, attend the Activities Fair and other orientation events, spend time going to University hosted events, talk to your academic advisor, visit floors lounges, attend Resident Advisor Programs and see what piques your interest. You’ll be sure to meet other like-minded students in no time. Clarkson’s campus employs dedicated staff and students in a variety of ways to be right alongside you in your collegiate journey to support, guide and help you to have a positive experience. The Residence Life also hosts the First Year Cup which allows each floor of students to compete against each other for prizes. The residents of the floor are encouraged to attend a variety of chosen events across campus including sports games, guest speakers, educational events and more. This is a great way to become acclimated with campus, meet people and have fun!
Homesickness is common and affects students of all years, backgrounds and life experience. It is a normal part of the transition to adulthood. Clarkson University works to offer a multitude of resources and support for students to help in that transition. You are part of our community, and we are here to help serve and support you through your best times and your tough times. Always feel free to reach out to those around you for help.