Techniques for students, parents to cope with homesickness

Saige Heyer

Living in the dorms is an experience in itself. Not only are you away from home, but, chances are, you’re living with someone you barely know. All of this can be overwhelming, and homesickness can sometimes be a problem.

Homesickness affects both the students and their parents. Here are some things to do to help with homesickness.


Leave your room. As much as you’d like to hide from the world and think about being back at home, don’t. Get out and explore campus and Ames to see what each has to offer.

Be sad for a day. It’s perfectly alright to be homesick, but don’t let it last too long. Spend a day reminiscing and missing home and the people you left behind, then move on the next day.

Get involved. Life at Iowa State consists of clubs, organizations, intramurals and extracurricular activities. Even if you don’t do any of these things right away, you can get involved at any time.

You’re not the only one who’s homesick. If you’re having a tough time with homesickness, find other people that are just as homesick as you and spend time together. Tell one another about where you grew up and what you miss about it to help cheer you all up.


Take the time to listen to your student. If your student is homesick, listen to what he or she has to say about classes, life at Iowa State, new friends or troubles he or she is having. It may make you feel helpless at times, but know that talking to you is making your student feel a bit better.

Don’t go on about how empty the nest is now. It’s fine to mention it to let them know you understand how much you miss each other, but don’t go on and on about it because your student may end up feeling guilty for making you feel lonely.

Encourage your student to stay at school and not visit at every opportunity. Of course it’s fine for him or her to visit on breaks or a few select weekends, but coming home at every opportunity is not going to help him or her get acclimated to being on his or her own.

Tell your student you believe in him or her and suggest setting small goals to work toward. This will help boost your student’s confidence in being able to make it on his or her own. Some ideas for the goals include joining a club or study group, finding something new to do every week or completing a personal project.

When trying to determine if your student is homesick or not and to what extent, keep an eye out for things that are out of the norm for him or her. Some of these things may include your student calling home more often than you expected, consuming excessive amounts of food or alcohol, grades not being as high as they can be and him or her expressing extreme dislike toward the school and/or anything it involves.

Students can also utilize the resources Iowa State offers including the Student Counseling Services to help them cope with their homesickness.