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Rear view of young Asian woman lonely and tired sitting near window

Over half of college students say they experienced homesickness during the fall term.

Wiphop Sathawirawong/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Homesickness continues to impact students’ experience in higher education, with fall 2023 students reporting higher levels of homesickness than their 2022 peers, according to new data from tech provider EdSights.

The company’s fall 2023 data found over half of students have experienced homesickness, with 11 percent saying they often feel homesick and 45 percent saying they are sometimes homesick, as shared in a Jan. 23 webinar. These numbers rose slightly from fall 2022 data, which found 9.6 of students experienced homesickness often and 43.6 percent experienced it sometimes.

EdSights collected the data by employing artificial intelligence and text messages to simulate interactions with around 300,000 college students at 108 institutions across the U.S. to gauge persistence. During the fall 2023 semester, the company sent and received around one million texts, with a 97 percent opt-in rate and 62 percent engagement rate among students.

Students who are homesick are less likely to be engaged on campus or invest in relationships with their peers, instead opting to FaceTime friends from high school or go home on the weekends, says Will Miller, associate vice president for continuous improvement and institutional performance at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Homesickness is also correlated with lower levels of persistence, according to EdSights’ 2022–23 data. Students with low self-efficacy, similarly, were more likely to tell the chat bot they did not plan to return to their institution the following term.

By the numbers: Among students who live on campus, 10 percent who experience homesickness feel that way within the first month, which Miller attributes to FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

In the past, institutional leaders had to worry about students going home over Thanksgiving break and comparing their experiences to those of their high school friends. Now, thanks to social media, there are more opportunities for students to compare themselves with their peers throughout the semester.

First-generation students reported similar levels of homesickness to their continuing generation peers, but athletes were slightly less likely to say they were homesick often (9.88 percent) compared to their non–student athlete peers (10.69 percent).

International students were also more likely to say they were homesick, with 18.6 percent of students feeling homesick often and 47 percent sometimes feeling homesick.

Male students were the least likely to report feeling homesick, with 54 percent saying they were not homesick and only 7 percent saying they were homesick often.

Across racial and ethnic groups, Asian students had the highest levels of homesickness, with 21 percent reporting being homesick often and 54 percent homesick sometimes.

Supporting students: To engage disconnected and sad students, institutions employ interventions.

  • Normalize the feelings. Reminding students that many of their peers have felt the same way they do can help them create connections to the campus.
  • Involve peers. Southern Utah University challenges its student workers, such as resident advisers, to talk to two new students every day, Carolina Recchi, co-CEO of EdSights, shared during the webinar. The no-cost intervention helps new students get connected to near-peer mentors who are engaged at the university.
  • Establish a routine. Homesickness can be triggered by unfamiliar experiences, so encouraging students to find a rhythm that feels natural and supportive to them can make their college experience less stressful.

Do you have a wellness tip that might help others encourage student success? Tell us about it.

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