College Homesickness

Homesickness occurs when there is an actual or anticipated separation from home and the people you are familiar with. This can cause distress and possibly functional impairment.

In the United States, there are currently more than 15 million students enrolled in colleges and universities, and many students live away from home. It is important for you to understand the signs and symptoms of homesickness, and this will hopefully help you to cope effectively with it.

Home Sweet Dome

You may be experiencing homesickness if you are trying to adjust to an unfamiliar environment. As a college student you experience many new adjustments all at one time. For example, you may be facing some of the following changes, some for the first time:

  • Independently managing your own life
  • Establishing new friendships
  • Experiencing a large college campus environment
  • Adjusting to a new schedule
  • Striving to succeed in academics, athletics, or artistic pursuits
  • Adopting to a new geographical setting

Homesickness may leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and withdrawn. It may also lead you to experience social and behavioral problems, symptoms of depression and anxiety, coping deficits, academic difficulties, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors. It is important to know that you are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homesickness you may find the following tips helpful.

  • Get involved. Join a club or an intramural team. Take a fitness class. Get involved with campus activities. Get involved in your residence hall.
  • Keep close communication with your family and friends. Make regular phone calls; send emails, or even video chat.
  • Make yourself at home. Decorate your residence with pictures and keepsakes from home.
  • Familiarize yourself with your new environment. Take a walk on campus, go for a drive in the community, and learn what UNI and Cedar Falls has to offer.
  • Invite visitors. Invite your friends or family members to visit you at school.
  • Seek Support. Talk to an R.A. or an upper-classman. Contact the Counseling Center. Check out the  Student Health Clinic, Recreation Services, and Student Wellness Services to help you navigate homesickness


It can also be helpful to be practicing holistic wellness in these ways when feeling homesick: 

  • Get the sleep that your body needs! Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and practice good sleep habits!   
  • If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. Check in with your habits using UNI's FREE Alcohol eCheckup to Go.
  • Show up to class! Your classes are important to continue attending even when feeling homesick.
  • Keep track of how much time you are using social media and try to keep it to 30 minutes each day
  • Go outside to boost your mood!