Going off to college increases not only pride and encouragement, but also homesickness. The majority of college and university students miss some aspect of their home life. Nearly 20 percent experience severe homesickness that negatively impacts their academic and social life, explains clinical psychologist Dr. Christopher Thurber. While homesickness is common among college students, there are steps to reduce its prevalence. Utilizing campus social facilities and staying connected with friends and family can alleviate some effects of homesickness.

Decorate your dormitory or student apartment with pictures of your hometown, friends and family. Visit your home and take photographs or ask friends and family to send you pictures. Share the pictures with your roommates and visitors to make deeper social connections that will help reduce homesickness.

Ask friends and family members to come and visit you on your college campus. Introduce your family and hometown friends to people you have met on campus. Schedule times to call your family and friends in between visits.

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Find a restaurant that serves your favorite foods from home. Visit the restaurant to surround yourself with scents and flavors similar to those found at home. If possible, ask a family member or friend to send you a care package with your favorites.

Join clubs, groups or societies specific to your interests. Student government, religious and faith organizations, hobby groups, lifestyle clubs, athletic teams and theater can all reduce homesickness for college students.

Seek professional help from on-campus counseling and psychological services for severe homesickness. Academic advisors, peer counselors and trusted friends can also provide much-needed support when you have feelings of homesickness.

Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week. Most college campuses have a complete gym for students to use. Walking to class instead of riding the bus can provide a cardiovascular workout. Take the stairs instead of elevators whenever possible. Try out different types of sports such as volleyball or rock climbing to help decrease homesickness.

Attend your school’s sporting events to help ward off homesickness. Become an involved spectator by wearing your school's colors and cheering. Sporting events are an effective way to become more involved in campus life and meet new people.

Volunteer and help others for a few hours each month. Choose to volunteer at a place that matches your interests. Students who enjoy gardening may want to volunteer at a local park. Students studying education may want to mentor or tutor children.

Be realistic about homesickness. Allow yourself to grieve for the things that you have left behind at your home. Accept the fact that you are no longer home and that things will be different. Embrace your new life in college.

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