How to Deal with Homesickness in College

Going away to college can be a great adventure. But it can also cause homesickness. Over 30 percent of college students experience low-level homesickness. And about 69 percent of first year college students experience severe homesickness.

Homesickness is more than missing home or family. It’s also feeling longing and feeling out of place. Whether in or out-of-state or in a foreign country, students are entering a new phase of life and adjusting to a new place.

Homesickness is normal. Many students want to enjoy a home-cooked meal with family or take a break from adult responsibilities and academic pressures. But it can turn into a severe mental disorder if not managed.

Last year, Assist America helped a student who was hospitalized after his homesickness turned into alarming depressive episodes. He had shown increasing signs of homesickness, wanting to go home, not wanting to participate in activities and social events and having suicidal thoughts. His roommates told university staff and he was admitted to the hospital. Once he was stable, Assist America arranged transportation home with a medical escort.

Tips for handling homesickness

Parents and students can take steps to prevent and overcome homesickness.


  • Help your child prepare for college with a campus visit before school starts so they can get familiar with their new surroundings.
  • Send your child to overnight summer camp in the years before college to help them learn to handle separation anxiety.
  • Instead of expressing anxiety about them leaving for college, express optimism and positivity about their new experience.
  • Encourage your child to find trusted friends and adults on campus.
  • Send your child surprise packages. Include their favorite cookies or candies, a new book or a gift card to their favorite store, a letter and a funny family photo.


  • Participate in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome events to help students adjust to the college culture.
  • Create and stick to a daily routine, even if it’s hard to stay on track with exams and events.
  • Keep in mind that feeling homesick is normal.
  • Keep a family picture on your desk, video-chat or write letters to family and friends back home.
  • Give yourself rewards. After you finish an important assignment or exam, take time for some fun or treat yourself to something you like.
  • Take some of your favorite room decorations to make your new room feel more like home.
  • Find out about campus services that are available to help you cope with homesickness. Don’t hesitate to ask a trusted adult on campus about such services.
  • If campus is near home, you and your parents can plan a few weekends throughout the year to get together on campus, at home or at a halfway-point.

Studying abroad

  • Students who study abroad are more likely to feel homesick since they have to adjust to a new culture and lifestyle, learn a new language, and meet people from various backgrounds.
  • Finding the right person to go to with questions or concerns can be a challenge when studying abroad. Before going, create a list of names, contact details and roles of people who may be helpful.
  • Some schools have an international student department that organizes welcome events. Make sure to attend.
  • Many international programs have Facebook groups where former and new students can share tips and experiences. These can help you make connections before leaving home.
  • Make friends with people from your own country. Spending time together and having a meal can help you feel a little closer to home.

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How HAP and Assist America can help students

Assist America provides students studying out-of-state or abroad with help:

  • Finding where and how to refill prescriptions
  • Finding a doctor
  • Getting emergency trauma counseling by telephone, and referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.
  • Learning about your destination using the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and mobile app.

HAP members can download the free Assist America Mobile App. With it, you can access your membership details and list of Assist America's services.And you can call 24/7 Operations Center with the tap of a button. Download it now before you're in an urgent situation. You'll need your HAP-exclusive code - log in to your account and select Assist America from Quick Links.


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This story was brought to you by our friends at Assist America.

Categories: Get Healthy