articles and blog

Homesick college kids

This month freshmen start life in a new city living in a dormitory with soon-to-be friends. For the first few weeks this newfound freedom and grownup life may be exciting. After a little while, however, academic pressure, unfamiliar situations and different groups of people may have your freshman feeling homesick.

The familiar faces, friends, food and the support of parents are not close by. Stress, anxiety and sadness may have your student longing for home. Here are some tips for helping your freshman adjust to college:

6 Tips to help your freshman (and 2 to avoid)


1. Listen

As a parent you have almost 2 decades experience “fixing” things. Now the best thing you can do for your freshman is to listen. Validate that these feelings are real. Don’t trivialize, dismiss or make fun of your child’s feelings. Be a sympathetic ear.

2. Believe in Him or Her

Help your freshman know that you believe she can handle this. You believe in her abilities. You don’t have to “fix” this. Listen and believe in her. You want to help her learn she can fix things too.

3. Plan for the Future

Pick a time when you know he can come home – or you can come for a visit. Having a concrete date when he knows you will be together will help get through the first few weeks and months.

4. Small Steps

Help your freshman choose some small goals to get used to the new routine and take action. Encourage her to make a few small steps – have coffee with a new classmate, attend a school game with a dorm mate. By taking a concrete action, your child will start to see she has the power to change her view and not let her feelings rule her.

5. College Academic Help

If your child is struggling with classes, help him explore the resources available for academics. Is there a study group? Does the school have tutors available?

6. Care Packages

Your child may be far from home – but, you can send a bit of home to him. Here are a few ideas:

A batch of favorite cookies Instant oatmeal
A movie he likes Soup packets
Instant coffee or tea Favorite soaps or lotions
A gift card to a local shop Nuts or trail mix
Pens, markers, ink cartridges A handwritten note



1. Helicopter In

Try to help your freshman make this transition. New routine, new routine, new place and the loss of familiar people all cause a degree of homesickness in everyone. Watch for signs of serious adjustment difficulties or depression, however try not to swoop in and “fix” things.

2. Talk about home

Sure you miss your child. Letting her know that is natural. Don’t however dwell on how empty the house is without her, how her pet misses her, how things just aren’t “the same.”

In contrast, don’t tell your homesick freshman how much you love having the house to yourselves – or your plans to change his room into a ‘mom cave.’

“It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure. When you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”


Author & Playwright Thornton Wilder

Your child is making an important step toward being an adult. Celebrate it. Be proud of his courage. Let her know you know she will be successful!

Margo Anderson-Fowler, MD

Dr. Anderson-Fowler enjoys caring for patients of all ages. She has a special interest in the Mind/Body/Spirit connection for health. She tries to understand her patients' family dynamics and how this may affect their health. She feels a physician should be totally engaged with the patient and see him or her as an individual. She believes every person just wants to be heard so she listens carefully to her patients' concerns and tries to offer them the best care possible so they can reach thei ...

Learn more about this expert