Fighting Homesickness - August 2011
You may have never imagined that your child would be homesick, and now that he/she is, you may not know what steps are necessary to overcome the emotion and press forward. Be encouraged, though. Whether your student is outgoing or reserved, involved or independent, homesickness is normal--and there is help.
Baylor is a family. Students often comment that their favorite part of Baylor is the relationships they have built--a community that is only second to their own family. However, with any family, the keys are connectedness and spiritual, emotional and physical health.
Know Your Student
Regardless of your student's personality, there are undoubtedly weaknesses that foster homesickness. When you know your student's tendencies, you can identify trouble spots and help your student make Baylor a home away from home.
Does your student prefer to spend most of the time alone or withdraw from group activities or organizations? While independence can be an asset at times, your student's zeal for college will quickly wane if he/she adopts solitude.
With more than 250 campus organizations, there are many opportunities for students to explore their interests with other like-minded students or discover a new pastime. Encourage your student to seek out areas of involvement and to connect with others. Plugging into the Baylor community will strengthen your student's connection with others on campus and help alleviate homesickness.
On the flipside, your student may be over-connected. These are the students who want to experience every activity, join every organization and add 1,000 friends to their Facebook account. Without proper navigation and discernment as to what will be most beneficial, these students will wither under the pressure of balancing the load of activities and coursework. And naturally, over time, they may want to retreat home where life is "easier."
Help your student process the options for extra-curricular involvement and decide on the number of commitments he/she can handle--especially in the early years. Encourage your student to develop rich friendships, rather than striving to know everyone. Without an intimate group of friends, your student's need to "be known" will not be met.
Pay close attention to how often your student visits home. While it may be nice to see your student frequently, he/she needs to be on campus in order to feel connected. Weekends offer a prime opportunity for your student to develop lasting relationships that are seldom formed during class-time. Campus events and athletic events (often during weekends) foster great chances for your student to create memories and become more secure away from home.
Also, consider how you can pay a visit to campus. Joining your student for an on-campus event will give them an opportunity to "own" the Baylor experience and reflect on the positive aspects of campus life. Meeting friends and seeing your student's lifestyle allows you to encourage your student in this new season.
Your student's spiritual, emotional and physical well-being also will affect the inclination to stay on campus. If your student seems depressed or anxious, encourage a visit to a chaplain or counselor. If a student's plate gets too full or he/she is struggling with courses and grades, inform him or her about career services and academic advisement. When your student needs to build community, explain the opportunities through Student Life and Student Activities. When these factors are balanced, students are better equipped to thrive away from home.
Going Even Deeper in the Baylor Experience
Out-of-the-classroom enrichment opportunities will take your student's security in the Baylor family to the next level. Whether through a study abroad, discipline-specific mission trip or internship, community is always enriched when students work alongside each other and pursue their dreams and passions together. Learning in these unconventional classrooms boosts students' self-confidence and helps them fully embrace adulthood.