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College bound: tips for avoiding those homesick blues

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ADA – Going off to college is both exciting and nerve-wracking for new students and their parents, alike. Ohio Northern University Vice President for Student Affairs Adriane Thompson-Bradshaw, Ph.D., has been involved with that adjustment for nearly 30 years and has advice to help ease the transition.

For students, it is important to stay focused and get active.

“College success comes down to the basic things. New students choose a college mainly because of its academic programs, so while it may seem obvious, it is worth reminding them that they need to go to class and set aside time to study. They also need to strike a balance with that study time and do something in addition to academics. Getting involved in organizations and other activities allows new students to make friends and avoid homesickness and other adjustment difficulties.”

All of this transition can be a stressful time for these new students.

“For many students, there will be times when they feel a little overwhelmed, lonely and/or isolated. This is common. They are leaving home, family, friends and a routine that is familiar. For these students, it is important for them to remember they are not alone. Most other freshman students are feeling the same way. In fact, reaching out to others and sharing those feelings can help them build connections with their classmates.”

moving day in college

“Most freshman students enter college with expectations of a great college experience and it will be great. Part of that experience, however, is adapting and realizing not everything they want will happen right away.”

For parents of new students, it is important to realize things are changing, but that does not mean they are losing their connection with their student.

“While you want to be part of your student’s college experience, give the students the space they need to pilot their own lives at this time,” Thompson-Bradshaw said.

“It is important to stay in touch with your son or daughter, but remember that college students have busy schedules, and they may not be able to have regular conversations every day the way you may have done at home at the dinner table each evening.”

“A rule of thumb is to encourage your students to stay on campus and not go home on weekends for at least the first month or so. In fact, at ONU, we schedule our Family Day accordingly (Sept. 17 this year). Staying on campus helps students make the transition and feel more connected to their new college home. And, having parents visit the student on his or her own turf reinforces that idea.”

“Things are changing, but it is OK,” Thompson-Bradshaw said. “That relationship you built over the years is still strong, but your student is growing, developing and taking on more responsibility. It is all part of the growth process, which will be gratifying to everyone in the long run.”

Contact: Adriane Thompson-Bradshaw can be reached at (419) 772-2433 or a-thompson@onu.edu.