The first few months of a semester are always full of excitement. New classes, making friends, getting involved in a totally new community and learning how to be independent can be thrilling, but can also be challenging. Add in the Coronavirus and for many, the stress and anxiety can be too much. While most students experience homesickness in some way shape or form while transitioning to college life, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. However, we have included some ways you can help the transition go more smoothly.
- Be a listening ear for your student. Allow them to tell you about their new adventures, both good and bad. Remind them that it is normal to feel a little homesick and that they are not alone. Hearing this might make them get over the awkwardness that comes with making new friends. Remember, sometimes students want advice, but sometimes they want to just talk things out. Be supportive and take their lead on what they need.
- Encourage your student to get involved. Florida State University has many opportunities for involvement, from service and diversity to Student Government, to Recognized Student Organizations and intramural sports, there is something on campus for your student. The key is for them to be willing to explore. If they are having a hard time finding what to get involved with, encourage them to visit https://nolecentral.dsa.fsu.edu/. This website serves as a database of the 700+ student organizations on campus, including descriptions of what they do and who their leadership is, in case your student has any questions. Another good option is to keep an eye out on calendar.fsu.edu and Virtual FSU. Both resources highlight events happening on campus and offer options for connections, whether your student is living on campus, off-campus, or at home.
- Send them a care package. Everyone enjoys getting mail. Send your student a quick note, pictures of their pet, or a bag of their favorite candy or snack. Something simple can remind them of the love they have at home and lift their spirits. Consider throwing in an extra face covering or some hand sanitizer as an added reminder to protect themselves (and others) from the Coronavirus.
- Remind your student to leave their rooms. Encourage your student to leave their rooms and explore the area. COVID-19 has definitely changed up the way the Fall semester has looked, but there are still opportunities for a change of scenery. Landis is a great place to study or play frisbee, especially as the weather gets cooler. Strozier and Dirac (libraries) are open for individual study, so your student might explore those options as well. The university is creating outdoor seating across campus to help provide more options for students outside of their residence hall/apartments. Campus Recreation has opened their facilities as well, so your student can get a workout in at the Leach or the FMC or check out the FSU Reservation. Tallahassee has a ton to explore as well! Area attractions including Cascades Park, the Florida Capitol/Museum, Apalachicola National Forest, and the Tallahassee Museum offer exciting opportunities for students. The main goal is to remind your student to get out of their room and find something new and exciting to do in their new home with their new friends. Remind them to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering.
- Take advantage of on-campus resources. There are many offices and departments that are here to assist your students in being successful at the University. If your student lives on campus, Resident Assistants (RAs) can be a great resource for your student. RAs can provide your student advice on clubs/organizations that they might find of interest or discuss with them strategies to manage their time. If your student is a first-year student, you might also encourage them to reach out to their Orientation Leaders. They are great resources who know a good bit about campus happenings and can help your student get plugged in. Another group they may look into is SOAR Board–these students work as liaisons between Student Organizations & Involvement and the 700+ Recognized Student Organizations at FSU. Undergraduate Studies also has the Nole2Nole Mentoring Program, where new students get paired with a seasoned student to help them navigate their first semester. For more information, encourage your student to check their FSU email. Utilizing campus resources will be vital to your student’s success at the University.
- Don’t allow your student to come home every chance they get. Not allowing your student to come home often is difficult because you miss them, but staying in Tallahassee and getting to know the area is key to helping your student adjust. Most students do not return home until Thanksgiving. This will allow a good amount of time for them to settle and adjust to life at Florida State.
- Know when homesickness becomes something else. If you are concerned that your student is more than homesick or otherwise struggling with the transition to college life, a visit to the University Counseling Center might be a good idea. Staff members are available to meet with your student and discuss a range of topics, including homesickness, managing stress, and building healthy relationships. Or if your student prefers assistance on their academic goals, encourage them to utilize the Academic Center for Excellence and attend a workshop, training, or tutoring session. If your student needs help setting up an appointment with either of these resources, encourage them to ask for help from their RA or OL.
- Don’t think homesickness is only for first-year students. Homesickness can impact students at any point in their college career (and beyond). And that can bring up a lot of feelings, like embarrassment if your student feels like they should be past this stage as a junior. This is an important time to listen to your student. Remind them of how they have handled this before and give them a goal to focus on, like a holiday for family celebration. This will help them stay focused and motivated throughout the semester.
We hope that these tips will help both you and your student during this adjustment period! Florida State University has many resources to help your student during this time. If you or your student are ever unsure of where to go, please know that New Student & Family Programs is just a call or e-mail away.
New Student & Family Programs
4320 University Center A | 282 Champions Way
(850) 644-2785 | firstname.lastname@example.org