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Is it normal for my child to feel homesick during college?

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Yes. According to the Higher Education Research Institute, 61 percent of college students reported feeling some sort of homesickness. That’s a lot of homesick students. This number is big, and it’s gotten bigger over the past several years. Forget the flu—homesickness the first year of college is an epidemic. If your kid isn’t getting homesick, he or she is in the minority.

Knowing that homesickness is normal should better prepare you for when your child calls or expresses feelings of homesickness. Instead of being shocked, panicking, or trying to convince your child that he or she isn’t really homesick, you can listen and think, “My son loves home so much it’s making him sick. Oh, isn’t that wonderful.” Or, “My daughter loves home so much it’s making her sick. Oh, isn’t that wonderful.” No, it’s not really wonderful, but knowing it’s normal can help you be a better listener and help cure the sickness.

What is homesickness? If you take it literally it would be someone who is sick when home. It really should be called awaysickness. It’s not really a sickness. It’s more of a longing. How about homelonging? I see homesickness as longing for those comfortable feelings you get at home when you’re around familiar friends, family, and people you love and trust. It’s the feeling of curling up in a cozy bed with your favorite pillow on a cold winter’s night. (People in Florida won’t know this feeling).

As a New College Parent, you are more accessible when your child is homesick than the previous generation of parents. It’s much easier to reach out to you (and aggravate you) than ever before.

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Tagged in: College Life Homesick

Harlan Cohen is the author of The Naked Roommate series of books and is one of the most widely read and respected syndicated advice columnists for people in their teens and twenties. His column, "Help Me, Harlan!," is distributed by King Features Syndicate. Harlan regularly tours high school and college campuses giving presentations to students, professionals, and parents. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Follow Harlan on Twitter @HarlanCohen.

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