College Homesickness: Why, How Long, and What to Do?

One of the most tough times when moving to college was dealing with homesickness, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t last forever.

How long does college homesickness last? College homesickness is the worst in the first week to month of moving to college, and slowly subsides after the first month. As life on campus gets more busy, students will begin to feel less homesick. Everyone experiences homesickness differently and not everyone gets over it at the same time.

If you want to learn more about college homesickness, and how to deal with it, check out the rest of the article below.

How Long Does College Homesickness Usually Last?

It’s extremely difficult to give a definitive answer to this, because everyone is so different. The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s different, and it’s okay that you’re getting homesick. Typically, students will feel most homesick in the first couple days to weeks of college. It’s also most prevalent before classes start and when there’s not a lot going on. As you make new friends and get busy with activities, the feeling of being homesick will subside.

I promise you though, the feeling will go away. I can tell you with nearly 100% certainty that you will not be homesick for all of college, and that the feeling of wanting to go home will become less and less as time moves on. Even though going to college won’t be your true “home” (other than some people that grew up in their college town), it will begin feeling like your home, which brings us to our next topic on how to deal with getting homesick.

How to Deal with Homesickness in College

Homesickness is primarily caused by not being familiar with the people who you are around, the places you’re going, and the things you’re seeing. Quite honestly, you can feel homesick even if you’re not leaving home, because home is where you feel safe and protected by those around you.

Homesickness is perfectly normal for any college student and more common than you think. However, there are plenty of ways to help make it better.

1. Take Advantage of On-Campus Activities

Getting busy and staying busy is a lot easier said than done. However, it’s important that once you arrive on campus, you try to stay as busy as possible. When you’re alone or have nothing to do, it’s going to be hard not to think about wanting to be home, and back with everyone that you were so comfortable being around.

Many colleges will offer a variety of activities in the first couple days, or first weeks of being on campus. Take advantage of going to all of these! One of the primary reasons that colleges do this is to help students ease into the new school year. Another great way is to attend football games if your school has a football team. They’re a great social activity!

2. Establish a Routine

Part of becoming familiar and comfortable with your new surroundings is by establishing a routine. Establishing a routine can be as basic as having lunch at the same time and same place every day, or going to the gym on a daily basis. After you become more familiar with your surroundings, and what you’ll do on a daily basis, the feeling of homesickness will start to go away.

3. Make New Friends

Making new friends is one of the most important things when going to college. Everyone has a “fresh” start, and there are so many different ways to make friends! Making new friends can definitely be challenging, so check out some of our top recommended ways:

  • Dorm Activities: Check out things that are going on in your dorm in order to meet people on your floor and in the building. Meeting people that live in your same building is extremely convenient, and allows you to quickly see others whenever you feel like socializing.
  • Join a Club: For any kind of hobby or interest you have, there is likely a club at your college. Whether it’s sports, gaming, or a shared interest, hanging around people that have similar interests will help get your mind off of being homesick.
  • Join a Greek Organization: Fraternities and Sororities are excellent ways to meet a large group of people in a very quick amount of time. Whether it be those in your pledge class, or those who you meet at social functions, joining a greek organization is a way to surround yourself with a lot of people (even for those who are shy!).

Making new friends is a huge part in getting over homesickness, because chances are, a lot of other people are going through the same thing. Being able to sit and talk with people who are going through the same thing will help make you feel more comfortable, and help ease the homesickness.

4. Make your New Home Feel “More Like Home”

Making sure that you appropriately decorate your dorm room (or first room in college) will help make you feel more at home. I can tell you from personal experience, if you leave your dorm room looking boring and the way you found it, it feels more like a prison than a home. Add some style, decorations, and things that are familiar to you. A dorm room should be a place that you’re excited to come home to after class, not somewhere you dread.

5. Only Go Home If You Need To

Some people are not going to be able to have the luxury of traveling home, either because they live out of the country, or it’s not feasible to commute back on a regular basis. For others, they may only a couple hours away. In both of these cases, it’s perfectly okay, and this next suggestion will actually surprise most of you.

As much as you may want to, try to avoid going home too much, especially during your first semester. By going home, you are feeding into the homesickness. It helps give some temporarily relief, but when you’re back on-campus after being home, you’re going to be right back at being homesick again.

By all means, I’m not saying do not go home, but it’s important not to overdo going back home. Both because it can actually make your homesickness last longer, and you’ll begin missing out on some of the best years you’ll have in your life.

6. Get on a Video Call or Telephone Call

Getting on a Skype, Zoom, or regular telephone call is a great way to reconnect with your family and friends. However, as mentioned with going home, it’s better to do it in moderation and not overdo it. Plan a day a week in order to have a 30 minute video call with your parents, family or friends.

Also, take advantage of the times when you’re alone in your room to talk to friends and family. As great as it is to talk to them when you’re not alone, it adds an extra sense of closeness when it’s just you and your loved ones.

What Causes College HomeSickness?

Homesickness is caused not because you’re physically away from home, but because you’re away from who and what you’re familiar with. In college, you’re in a new environment with new people, and something that you haven’t experienced before. Homesickness doesn’t only happen when moving to college, but also when moving to a new city, studying abroad, or even being away from a familiar place for an extended period of time.

How to Prepare or Avoid College Homesickness Before Moving to College?

Although there isn’t a surefire way to avoid being homesick, there’s some things to take into consideration when planning for college, or life in general:

  • Spend Time Away from Home Before College: For most students, leaving for college is the first time that they’re away from their family and friends. Taking opportunities in high school to be away from family and friends (e.g. summer camps, study abroad trips, etc.) will help prepare you for the experience of being away.
  • Consider Where You Attend College: If you consider yourself a homebody and someone that loves to be home and around family and friends, you should consider where you apply for colleges. By no means should this be the primary factor of your school choice, but it’s something to take into consideration if you’re not set on one specific school.
  • Be Sure College is Right for You: People that may not want to be going to college and are feeling forced to be there may have a harder time coping with being away. If you’re in college because you want to make new friends, make new memories, and advance your education, then you will get over the feeling.

For most people, college will be the best years of your life. Make it better by checking out our top 10 essentials to buy for college!

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