LIMA — Many teens get excited about leaving for college. However, that feeling can quickly change to anxiety.
Research has shown that at least 70 percent of first-year college students get some level of homesickness according to the Warwick Counselling Service, with some studies pushing that figure even higher, into the 90 percent range. For most students, they find a way to work around their new surroundings.
Ohio Northern University Vice President of Student Affairs Adriane Thompson-Bradshaw has been involved with the process of helping new students adjust for nearly 30 years.
“For many students, there will be times when they feel a little overwhelmed, lonely or isolated,” Thompson-Bradshaw said. “This is common. They are leaving home, family friends and a routine that is familiar.”
ONU held its move in day for new students Thursday, and the university spent the day helping students adjust to their new surroundings. Thompson-Bradshaw said it is natural to have a little apprehension.
“We work with students right from the beginning so that they are active,” Thompson-Bradshaw said. “When they have a lot of free time alone, it is more time to get nervous.”
The adjustment can be as hard on parents as it is for the students, and ONU offers several pointers in helping students get settled in:
• Strike a balance between study time and do something in addition to academics. Getting involved in organizations and other activities allows student to make friends and avoid homesickness.
• Remember you are not alone. Most other freshman students feel the same way.
• Parents need to realize things are changing. Stay in touch with your child, but remember they have busy schedules. Give the student the space they need to pilot their lives.
• Encourage students to stay on campus and not go home for at least the first month or so. ONU schedules a family day on campus (Sept. 17) to reinforce that idea.
At Bluffton University, faculty welcomes new students with its annual convocation. The first name of each student is called. Peabody Award-winning radio producer Julie Bernstein is the featured speaker at the event.
“It is our way of communicating that each student plays a role in making Bluffton what it is,” said Bluffton University vice president Sally Weaver Sommer.
At the University of Findlay, students marched through the arch on campus, a longstanding tradition that symbolizes the beginning of their academic lives at the campus. Upperclass students, faculty and staff helped new students move in. The new students are also introduced to the Orientation Service Project, in which students participate in one or more of 72 different projects ranging from assisting at a local museum to weeding flower beds.
While it is a big change, Thompson-Bradshaw said most students eventually rise to the task. For the small percentage that don’t, support services with counselors on campus also offer help.
“Things are changing, but it is okay,” 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.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at [email protected]