Handling homesickness: how to handle the transition from high school to college

First-year student Robin Armagost offers advice to fellow students on adjusting to campus life

Robin Armagost

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College can be your home away from home

The class of 2023 has been on campus for about a month, and many first-year students seem to be settling into their dorms, getting used to their classes, exploring the campus and community and making new friends with ease. Or are they? 

Being a first-year student myself, I can’t say I’m doing these things as well as my other freshman peers seem to be. I am doing a lot better than I was the first week of college, but, if I’m going to be honest, this place just doesn’t feel like home yet. 

Yes, I know I’ve been here barely a month so I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable as the semester goes on, but I’ve come to realize that the main reason college doesn’t feel like home yet is because I can’t let go of the home I grew up in. I am simply homesick. 

According to Health Alliance Plan of Michigan, “Homesickness is more than missing home or family. It’s also feeling longing and feeling out of place.”

I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get out of their community — the kids who come from small backwater towns and want to leave forever.. I came from a very small and very poor community in northern Wisconsin, so I was ready to start a new chapter in a different place. 

However, when my family finished helping me move in, they said their goodbyes and I was all alone. A very strange sensation fell over me. I was in a place I didn’t know, with no friends or family around. I finally got to the place I wanted to go, and I already wanted to go back.

Not everyone deals with homesickness in the same way, but here are some tips from my experience for making college feel a little homier:

  • Make friends. Yes, I know it’s easier said than done, but making friends on campus will make you want to stay here. It’s like making your own family here. Unfortunately you’re going to have to deal with the awkwardness. Nobody knows each other, so it’s inevitable. If you keep doing it, it won’t be so awkward anymore. One thing that worked on my floor was my neighbors hosting a spa night and a movie night. It was really fun. It was a little awkward at first, but we got to know each other, exchange stories and just be our total goofball selves. So try hosting something yourselves, whether that be a game night, movie night, spa night or something else that gives you joy. It’ll be a nice way to just chill with the people on your floor. 
  • Go to university-sponsored events. I know some of them might seem cheesy to you, but you can really meet some cool people from those events.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Give your parents a call once in a while, and keep texting your high school friends. That way,  it doesn’t seem like you’re so far away from them. It only takes a phone call to hear their voice again. 
  • Try and visit home for a weekend here and there. Maybe not every weekend, but one weekend every month or so, visit home.Try and carpool with people if you don’t have a car yourself, or see if a friend or family member will come to pick you up. Physically seeing your friends and family will help alleviate your homesickness until the next time you see them again. 
  • Find a hobby or decorate your dorm. According to one Society 19 article, people experiencing homesickness should try to find a hobby or take time to decorate their dorms to take their mind off of things and to fill in downtime. That way they won’t keep thinking of home, family and friends so much.




Remember, college can only be home if you make it your home. 

Armagost can be reached at [email protected]