Students far from home may feel stressed

Gabe Davis

While some ISU students may look forward to going home for the holidays, those living too far to travel quickly or easily try to enjoy their time off without family and friends.

Students far from home may have to cope with heightened stress and loneliness when they arrive at Iowa State.

“Students who come to college from far away have to leave their friends and family behind and construct a totally new social network of friends,” said Carolyn Cutrona, professor of psychology. “This is in contrast to the local students who maintain their same social networks from home and just supplement them during their time at college.”

The real psychological effect that out-of-state students face is having to deal with loneliness, said Daniel Russell, professor of psychology.

“You might anticipate that students who aren’t from Iowa and who don’t know anyone will experience higher levels of loneliness and have a need to make friends,” he said.

Research has been done on the stress levels of in-coming students, Russell said.

“UCLA did a survey two weeks into the fall semester that showed that 75 percent of their incoming students said that they were lonely,” he said. “In the spring semester, when they ran the same survey, the number of lonely students was down to 25 percent.”

Russell and his colleagues have looked at the factors contributing to new students’ feelings of loneliness, he said.

“Incoming students, such as freshmen, seek satisfaction in their friendships. They just want friends to hang out and do things with,” Russell said. “By the time students have been at the university for four years, their focus shifts from friends to ro-mantic dating relationships as they start to think about graduation and being alone again.”

Cutrona said another issue affecting students is whether they make the trip home for holidays and breaks.

“When you can’t get back for the holidays, then you’ve left your whole heritage and culture behind,” she said.

Royce Hooks, freshman in exercise and sport science from Jacksonville, Fla., said he has adjusted to living far from his family.

“Living so far from home has its advantages and disadvantages. I didn’t get to go home for Thanksgiving break, so I try to just work out problems in my mind,” he said. “Being away from home has definitely helped me to grow up and mature.”

Brian Wilson, sophomore in English from Tennessee, said out-of-state students must learn to adjust to the distance between college and home. Before studying at Iowa State, Wilson had moved 14 times in 20 years.

“If you live far away, you can’t go home for holidays like Labor Day,” he said. “It stinks when you want to get home for something and you can’t because it’s a 15-hour drive away.”