In the spring of 2022, nearly 18 million students attended American colleges and universities.
As exciting as this phase of life can be, experiencing some level of homesickness during the home-to-college transition is common. As a parent, you may feel a sense of responsibility when it comes to helping your now-adult child get over their homesickness. And there could be a reason for concern, since studies have shown that emotional or mental distress in college students can impact academic performance.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways parents can help their child adjust to being away from home (perhaps for the first time) and get the most out of their college experience. Read on to learn some simple ways you can help your child feel less homesick at college.
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Strategies to Help Your Child Cope with Homesickness
Watching your child experience homesickness from afar can be challenging. It may be tempting to rush to the rescue, but it is also important that your child find their footing on campus. These tips and ideas may be helpful as you support your child as they navigate homesickness and life on-campus.
Acknowledging the Situation
It can be comforting to know that you’re not the only one struggling with a given situation. So as a parent, it might be helpful to share with your child how common homesickness is among first-year students. Providing comfort and reassurance that they are not alone and that in time, their feelings of homesickness will pass, can go a long way.
Keeping In Touch
As you and your child adjust to your new dynamic, you may need to find new ways to keep in touch. Keep in mind that while your child is adjusting to on-campus life, you don’t want to be overbearing. Try setting up a weekly video chat or sending over fun updates from home in a text message. Remember to give your child the space they need to find their footing at school.
Sending a Care Package
When packing for college, adding a few items that bring the comfort of home could be helpful if your child starts feeling tinges of homesickness. Things like a favorite book, a blanket, or stuffed animal could be just the thing when homesickness creeps in.
Sending over a care package with some of their favorite cookies, candies, or snacks and a photo of a fun memory can provide a touch of home too.
Encouraging Your Child to Get Help if They Need It
If your homesick college student seems like they may benefit from professional help, you might encourage them to visit their campus counseling center. Many colleges also offer mental health services and counseling on campus, often at little to no cost.
If there are fees involved, they may be covered (at least partially) by health insurance. If your child is no longer on a family medical plan, it’s likely you’ve enrolled them in a college health insurance plan, which is often rolled into costs of tuition, room, and board.
💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.
Helping Your Child Find a New Familiar
It’s probably not the best idea for parents to visit their child every weekend — though it may be hard to control yourself if your child’s university is easily accessible. As lovely as it is that you’re a familiar face, it might be more helpful for your child to find a new familiar.
Instead, you might encourage your child to find ways to make their not-yet-so-familiar home feel more known. If your college student loves coffee, they might want to find a local shop they can visit frequently — turning it into their own personal hang-out spot.
If they’re into museums, discovering the best ones nearby could help them feel more grounded in their new environment.
Getting Involved on Campus
When someone is feeling down, it can be tempting to stay indoors and wallow in those feelings. Getting involved on campus can help students build community and connect with their peers. Colleges have lots of clubs and extracurriculars that can help students find like-minded individuals.
If committing to a club feels like too much, your child might connect with peers in a more casual way, from making friends in class or meeting new people during a dorm hall function.
Developing Healthy Routines
Physical health and mental health go hand in hand, so if your homesick college student is making less-than-healthy choices during this tough transition period, you might encourage them to make some changes in their routine.
This might look like starting their day with a walk to the campus coffee shop or finding a weekly exercise class. Creating a schedule and finding new, healthy routines can give your student something to look forward to.
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Developing a Plan to Pay for College
In addition to homesickness, paying for college can be an added layer of stress, for both parents and students. If your child is worried about money or constantly working at a job to help cover costs (rather than acclimating to college), you might want to look into additional sources of funding, such as scholarships and grants and/or student loans.
It’s important to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year, since this is required for a student or parent to qualify for any federal funds or loans.
For some students, federal student loans and other sources of aid may be enough to fund their college education. If it’s not, parents also have the option of taking out loans, such as the federal PLUS loan or a private student loan. You might also consider cosigning a private student loan for your child.
When comparing federal vs. private student loans, keep in mind that private student loans aren’t required to offer the same borrower protections, like deferment options or income-driven repayment plans, as federal student loans. For this reason, you generally want to look at private student loans only after you’ve exhausted federal loan and aid options.
💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.
The transition to college life can be stressful for students, as well as their parents. Being in an unfamiliar environment, while trying to balance classes and making new friends can lead to feelings of apprehension, anxiety, and homesickness. As a parent, providing support from a distance can include things like sending a care package, checking in with a video call once a week, and encouraging your child to get involved in extracurricular activities.
Hopefully, in time, your child will settle into their life on campus — finding a new normal. If money worries are adding to your child’s (or your own) college stress, it can also be a good idea to explore funding options you or they might qualify for. Once the financial side of college is taken care of, your child will be free to focus solely on assimilating into campus life and fully embracing this exciting time in their life.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.