There’s no place like home

Breanne George

Students grapple with homesickness while adapting to new life styles

As the semester enters its fourth week of classes, some new KSU students are four weeks removed from home. As friends leave on the weekends, some students from areas far from Kent cope with the distance between home and school. According to CNN, parents a

Credit: Jason Hall

Casandra Rogers misses the sandy beaches, bright sunshine and laid back vibe of California. But most of all she misses her family and friends.

“When I came to Kent I didn’t want to accept I was out here,” Rogers said. “It seemed like everyone knew each other, and I didn’t know a single person. I felt like the odd person out.”

Rogers, a sophomore early childhood education major, deals with homesickness on a daily basis. Unlike many students, Rogers does not have the option to go home on the weekends. She lives nearly 2,500 miles from her family in San Diego. She chose Kent State because her dad had moved to Medina.

Homesickness is a common feeling, especially among the generation currently in college, referred to as “millennials.”

According to The Record, a publication from Washington University in St. Louis, “millennials” are closer to their parents than past generations and often have trouble letting go and becoming independent.

College students today often think of their parents as friends. Cell phones, e-mail and instant messaging allow students to keep in touch with parents more frequently than past generations. It is not uncommon for students to call their parents in between classes just to say “hi”, and go home every weekend. This closeness can cause homesickness to be more prevalent.

Rogers said she has a serious boyfriend back home, which makes the situation more difficult. She said she often feels guilty about being so far away from him.

“I try to tell myself to focus on my education and not think about how much I miss everyone,” Rogers said. “I know that they will always be there, and I will see them again soon.”

Many homesick students feel the need to go home on the weekends in order to not feel disconnected from loved ones.

Chief Psychologist Pamela Farer-Singleton of University Health Services warns that this is not the best solution and can actually make the situation worse.

“Students who stay on the weekends meet people and make connections. This is a vital step because homesickness tends to vanish when a student makes friends. After a while college starts feeling like home,” Farer-Singleton said.

Getting involved on campus is another way to deal with homesickness. Joining clubs and activities with people who have similar interests can help ease the loneliness.

Rogers decided to get involved on campus her freshman year. She became a member of the national sorority Chi Omega in Fall 2004 after going through formal recruitment.

“I lived in Small Group and most of the girls on my floor knew each other from high school. They formed cliques so it was difficult to make friends,” Rogers said. “Joining a sorority was a way for me to meet people.”

While going Greek is not the right choice for everyone, it is an option for students who want to be involved on campus.

Joining a sorority or fraternity is a big responsibility, but Rogers said she recommends it for students who feel homesick.

“It is easy to be less homesick when you are around people with similar interests,” Rogers said. “It definitely can be a comfort zone.”

Farer-Singleton said students should establish a therapeutic relationship if homesickness becomes unbearable and lasts for more than two weeks. She recommends students make appointments at Psychological Services in the DeWeese Health Center to talk about how they are feeling, and continue to make appointments on a regular basis.

The independence that college life brings can be daunting. Students assume college is all about partying and having fun.

The responsibilities that go along with being independent are not taken into consideration. Many students are getting a checking account, managing money and doing laundry for the first time.

“Some students have difficulty being independent because in high school they weren’t motivated or encouraged to do so,” Farer-Singleton said. “They start longing for home because prior to college they did not have these responsibilities.”

Residence hall life is probably the most drastic change for students, said Amy Quillin, associate director of Residential Services. Sharing a bathroom with 15 other students, getting along with a roommate and eating cafeteria food every day can cause students to long for the comforts of home.

“Residence hall staff is alert to such feelings and look out for students who may be homesick,” Quillin said. “They are responsive and aware of resources on campus to help mediate homesickness concerns.”

Quillin said resident assistants provide four programs a semester for students. These programs include educational, social and wellness programs to help students deal with stresses of college life.

“The ‘Weekend of Welcome’ during orientation week was a way to prevent homesickness,” said Thomas Jefferson, Resident Hall Director for the First-Year Experience residence halls. “There were a variety of programs and activities that allowed freshmen to meet other people and become familiar with the campus.”

Farer-Singleton said an important part of dealing with homesickness is keeping in touch with loved ones on a regular basis. She said this does not mean going home every weekend, but rather keep in touch via cell phone, e-mail and instant messaging. These methods of communication make it easy to feel connected without leaving campus.

“Get a good cell phone plan,” Rogers said. “It is hard to keep in contact when it costs money and when you can’t make long distance phone calls on dorm phones.”

Sometimes getting a quick instant message or e-mail from family or friends is all it takes to ease the pain. Farer-Singleton said that students who know they are missed at home feel less homesick because they know they are not alone.

“The worst thing a student can do is isolate themselves from people. It is vital that students talk to their loved ones and tell them how they feel,” Farer-Singleton said.

Rogers said that she tries to keep busy to not think about home. She said classes, being active in the sorority and studying keep her mind focused on school. However, she admits there are times when she can’t escape that homesick feeling

“When my busy day is over and I am in my room alone at night, I start to think about home again,” Rogers said. “I guess that type of feeling never really goes away.”

Contact enterprise reporter Breanne George [email protected]

Helicopter parents

College students aren’t the only ones having to cope with the transition to college life. Many parents today are referred to as “helicopter parents” which means they have difficulty letting go and tend to stay involved in their child’s life even while they are at college.Baby boomer parents are more involved in their child’s life than past generation. College students tend to think of their parents as friends, which can make separation difficult for both. Technology is also making it easier to keep in touch. While cell phones, instant messaging and e-mail make it easy for parents to feel connected, this closeness can prevent students from becoming independent.

Both students and parents should set a happy medium so parents do not feel abandoned and students do not feel smothered. Source: