Are You Making Your College Freshman Homesick?

You’d never intentionally make your college freshman homesick, but your frequent phone calls and care packages may have done just that. Now your student is talking about transferring schools – to be closer to you.

Don’t be too quick to buy them a one-way ticket home. Our experts show you how to transition from the relationship you’ve always had with your child to the adult relationship you need to establish in order for them to succeed on their own.

Frequent communication adds to homesickness.

Work out a schedule with your child for the frequency and type of communication (email, phone, skype, texting) you’ll have, advises Stewart Cooper of Valparaiso University. For example, agree to weekly calls on Sunday nights.

Censor the news from back home (a little).

Not telling your teen about big events in the family because you don’t want them to worry will make them feel left out, Cooper says. But, telling them too much might make them feel compelled to come home in order to give you emotional support. It is okay to tell them you miss them, just don’t say it too often, he says. When you do, balance it by reminding them how excited you are for them to be away at college.

Establish frequency of visits.

If there are too many demands on the child to come home or too many visits by the parent, it makes the transition difficult, Cooper says. Create a schedule and stick to it.

Tell your freshman to give it a year.

“If parents allow the child to come home at the end of one semester, in a sense, the experiment failed,” says Thomas Olkowski, author of “Helping Children Cope With Moving” (William Gladden Foundation, 2014). “It’s just going to become harder for the child to make that break.”

Encourage them to join activities they enjoy.

They’ll be too busy to become homesick, Olkowski says. He also offers parents these tips:

  • Don’t encourage them to come home often.
  • Don’t express your own sadness.
  • Don’t go overboard about how good things are at home.

Start preparing high school juniors to be self-reliant.

Jim Conroy of New Trier High School in Winnetka says parents should teach teens that life is a series of ups and downs. Just because you’re in a down period doesn’t mean you give up.

On the subject of helping teens thrive away at college, Conroy offers this simple advice: “Convince [teens] they have the answers and they don’t need you to solve it for them.”

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