Homesickness is a natural part of the college experience. But when feelings of homesickness become overwhelming, it can have a major impact on a student’s success. Therefore, it’s essential for many students who are moving away from home to study to pick a college that has systems in place to tackle homesickness. All 30 of the colleges in this list can demonstrate that they have a range of solutions for dealing with homesickness symptoms.
There is no one way to address homesickness in college. Instead, colleges have to offer dedicated services and foster a culture that allows students to feel welcome. They also need to focus on helping freshmen, as these students are the most likely to experience severe homesickness. Because of these facts, this ranking has incorporated a range of sources that identify colleges that deal with these aspects of homesickness.
Additionally, everyone responds and reacts to homesickness in different ways. For instance, some students may not want to address their feelings of homesickness with traditional counseling. In that case, the following ranking has only included colleges that offer a variety of ways to deal with homesickness.
Any one of the 30 colleges ahead is an ideal choice for a student who wants to know that any homesickness symptoms can be dealt with effectively and sympathetically. But it’s also possible that none of the colleges ahead are right for you. If that’s the case, this ranking can still be a vital resource for your college search. Each entry has a detailed summary of how it deals with homesickness in college. These have been included for you to compare and contrast with your college options. If any college that you’re considering is dealing with homesickness in students like the colleges ahead, then that shows that it is a strong choice. If your chosen college does not have programs in place, consider attending a community college, either locally or in a neighboring state to ease the transition.
The research for this ranking combines sources that highlight colleges with wellness initiatives and colleges that report high levels of student happiness. These sources are as follows:
- US News, First-Year Experiences
- Campus Explorer, 5 Colleges With the Best Freshman Orientations
- The Recovery Village, Top Colleges for Mental Wellness
- College Choice, 50 Colleges and Universities with the Happiest Freshmen:
- College Magazine, Top 10 Colleges Advocating for Mental Health Awareness
After we highlighted colleges from these lists, we conducted further research into the college’s approaches to dealing with homesickness. Once we identified 30 colleges, we ranked them with the following criteria: Evidence of providing strong homesickness support, evidence of providing a wide range of support, and aggregated ranking on the methodology lists.
Our ranking, from 30 to one, is below:
30. University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida
A number of University of Miami students have stated that the college’s culture has been helpful in overcoming homesickness. For example, Anuj Shah said that homesick students should “Spend time with your peers who will become your family and Miami will become your home soon enough.” A major contributing factor to the ability of students to feel at home at the University of Miami is the Student Center Complex. This complex has numerous indoor and outdoor facilities that provide opportunities for students to socialize. The Recovery Village considers the University of Miami to be the 10th best college for mental health.
29. College of William & Mary
Current students at the College of William & Mary have recommended several college resources to first-year students who are experiencing homesickness. Some of these resources include orientation aides, resident aides, and counselors. Additionally, the Health Promotion division of the college is proactive and ensures that students feel happy “through evidence-informed prevention efforts.” One of the ways in which it does this is by employing a range of integrative health coaches. College Choice names the College of William & Mary as the college with the eighth happiest freshmen.
28. Drexel University
The professional services at Drexel University are equipped to deal with homesickness. For instance, the counseling services offer a group therapy program for adjusting to college life which addresses homesickness, among other common issues. Additionally, if students don’t want to attend in-person counseling, they can address their issues with other resources, such as through the peer counseling helpline. And there are many accounts from students who have integrated well on campus. One example is Keyanna Bynum, who has assured students that the college community is supportive and inclusive. The Recovery Village names Drexel University the ninth-best college for mental health.
27. University of Rochester
Rochester, New York
A number of trained coaches at the University of Rochester have been equipped to support students through homesickness. These coaches are a part of UR Connected, an initiative of the Health Promotion Office that ensures that peer mentors connect students to available college resources. The college also provides advice to parents on ensuring that their child fits into student life. One piece of advice is not to ask students if they’re feeling homesick since asking could prompt those feelings. College Choice names the University of Rochester as the college with the sixth happiest freshmen.
26. The University of Maine
The student newspaper at The University of Maine reports that there are many ways for students to overcome homesickness. These solutions include joining one of the more than 200 student clubs, joining a sorority or fraternity, and seeking out professional help with counseling services. The college’s most recent student life annual report shows that the college is dedicated to creating new programs that alleviate student mental health issues, including homesickness. For example, the counseling center has begun collaborating with the college’s doctoral program to make its services even better. The Recovery Village names The University of Maine the sixth-best college for mental health.
25. North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
In its advice page for parents of homesick students, North Carolina State University explains that the campus has a number of resources to help students overcome those feelings. These include students participating in some of the 600+ groups and organizations. It also suggests reaching out to academic support and talking to some of the many people who are trained to help students, such as resident assistants and counselors. The Recovery Village names North Carolina State University as the fourth-best college for mental health.
24. Indiana University
Indiana University has previously reached out to parents to help them communicate with their student children who may be experiencing homesickness, giving a range of helpful advice. Also, students state that the college goes above and beyond to make them feel at home. For instance, Devlin Cook-Hines said, “The whole ‘IU is home’ thing sounds cheesy, but I feel it’s so true.” Each of the nine campuses has a slightly different feel, but a commitment to shared success can be found in every one. Campus Explorer states that Indiana University has the third-best freshman orientations of any college.
23. University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Some divisions of the University of South Carolina have excelled in helping students overcome feelings of homesickness. For example, the College of Engineering and Computing runs a peer mentorship program, which student Lauren Speck has stated as being helpful in stopping her worries of homesickness. International students have also stated that the International Accelerator Program has been helpful in avoiding homesickness. The college is also incredibly proud of its campus community. In fact, it states that living on campus “will be one of the most remarkable aspects of your college experience.” US News states that the University of South Carolina has the third-best first-year experience.
22. Georgia State University
A student-athlete at Georgia State University, Andreea Stanescu, has stated that the college has many systems in place to help with homesickness. In particular, she notes that sports coaches and other staff members are incredibly supportive. This approach is benefited from one of the core pillars of the college’s culture, which is to nurture healthy habits. The support systems on the campus are undoubtedly working. The student engagement division proudly states that graduation rates have improved at the college by 23 points. US News considers Georgia State University the sixth-best college for first-year experiences.
21. Ithaca College
Ithaca, New York
The director of Ithaca College’s Center of Counseling and Psychological Services, Brian A Petersen, recently explained how students can use homesickness to create positive experiences. He elaborates that combining the feeling of homesickness with making connections at school can boost the chances of success academically. He also assures students that his department can help students with this process. And this help doesn’t just come from the Center of Counseling and Psychological Services. One of the most innovative departments that can assist homesick students is the Center for IDEAS, which aims to empower marginalized students. College Magazine names Ithaca College as the fifth-best for mental health awareness advocacy.
20. Berea College
In 2020, Berea College launched The Student Resilience Project, an online hub to help students with homesickness and a range of other issues. It does this via videos, podcasts, and other resources that provide skill-building and emotional management techniques. Students have also recommended the college’s counseling services for dealing with homesickness especially. For example, an alumnus named Lydia Pope stated that the services helped set homesick students on a better path. US News considers Berea College the joint 4th best college for first-year experiences.
19. University of Georgia
Many University of Georgia students have explained that different aspects of the college helped them overcome homesickness. For example, Harris Green has stated that participating in a sorority was instrumental for her. And to ensure that as many students who need help are identified as possible, the college has the Student Care and Outreach division. This division provides “individualized assistance and tailored interventions.” This interventionist approach is also taken by the college’s health center. Campus Explorer states that the University of Georgia’s freshman orientations are the second-best of any college.
18. University of Pittsburgh
The student affairs department at the University of Pittsburgh advises parents on how they can help their students overcome homesickness. Additionally, the college has many resources in place that help students adjust to life away from home without involving parents. These range from the more commonplace counseling services to the more unique Stress-Free Zone and Center for Creativity. And these spaces are proactive in helping students. The Stress-Free Zone provides relaxation stations and a range of workshops to boost mental health. The Recovery Village considers the University of Pittsburgh the best college for mental health.
17. Elon University
Elon, North Carolina
One of the most creative ways in which Elon University is addressing homesickness is through pet therapy. The animals that are used in these pet therapy sessions are dogs, cats, and rabbits. The college proactively tries to involve students in all that’s happening on campus. In fact, it even employs involvement ambassadors. Another way that the college is alleviating homesickness among its first-year students is by creating numerous breaks in the first semester, giving students more opportunities to return to their family members. In fact, the first-year experiences at Elon University are so strong that US News names them the second-best of any college.
16. New York University
New York City, New York
Not only does New York University realize that homesickness can be a problem, but it also acknowledges that “reverse homesickness” can affect its student. This refers to students who feel out of place when they return home after spending time in a different country. And the college helps students address these issues by giving advice and providing questions to think about to counter feelings of reverse homesickness. The college has a long history of being proactive in monitoring the homesickness in its students. In fact, the oldest known New York University survey into student homesickness dates back to 1932. Campus Explorer considers New York University to have the best freshman orientations of any college.
15. Northeastern University
A number of departments at Northeastern University have advised students and families of students who are feeling homesick about ways in which they can alleviate their symptoms. This advice includes explaining how students can participate in activities that reduce homesick feelings and in the professional services that the college provides. And in addition to counseling services, Northeastern University seeks to help students who are struggling via an extended network of different services known as We Care. College Choice names Northeastern University as the college with the fifth-happiest freshmen. US News states that the college has the joint 74th best first-year experience.
14. University of Pennsylvania
The way that the University of Pennsylvania deals with homesickness stretches beyond formal health and wellness services. For instance, the Office of the Chaplain and The Spiritual and Religious Life Center are aware that some homesick students may be vulnerable to high-pressure religious groups. These divisions also offer support for affected students. College Magazine considers the University of Pennsylvania to be the seventh-best college for mental health awareness advocacy. College Choice believes that the college has the 44th happiest freshmen.
13. Rice University
One of the most creative ways in which the Rice University community has helped students overcome homesickness is through the college chefs doing their best to recreate family recipes. And students have stated that the people at Rice University are often “more than happy to help out” with helping homesick students. Additionally, the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center does all it can to provide students with opportunities to develop healthy behavior patterns. College Choice considers Rice University to have the 11th happiest freshmen. US News states that the college has the joint 35th happiest freshmen.
12. The University of Texas at Austin
The individual counseling service at The University of Texas at Austin states that it often helps students who are struggling with feelings of homesickness. Some students who have overcome homesickness also train to become peer mental-health educators to assist others who have not yet managed the issue. And there are many other instances of students informally addressing homesickness within their community, such as forming sports teams that replicate sports from students’ high schools. College Magazine considers The University of Texas at Austin the ninth-best college for advocating mental health awareness. US News names the college as the joint 28th best for first-year experiences.
11. Northwestern University
The anti-homesickness efforts at Northwestern University proactively seek out students. The director of the New Student and Family Programs, Patricia Hilkert, has stated that peer advisors meet with students multiple times during their first year of study to ensure that homesickness is not an issue. If it is a problem, then students can access other support networks and even professional counseling programs. College Magazine names Northwestern University the third-best college for mental health awareness. College Choice considers it to be the college with the 18th happiest freshmen.
10. Wellesley College
Many of the traditions at Wellesley College help students alleviate feelings of homesickness. The college states that Flower Sunday, which is held on the first Sunday of the academic year and features a range of events, is especially helpful in dispelling homesickness. The college’s Student Wellness department is also dedicated to finding solutions for every student, acknowledging that wellness is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. College Choice states that Wellesley College has the happiest freshmen. US News considers Wellesley College to have the joint 44th-best first-year experience.
9. University of Florida
In addition to in-person therapy, the University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center has a range of resources designed to help students that are struggling with symptoms of homesickness. This includes blogs and a mental-health podcast. The college also maintains a Care Area, which provides further resources. This area employs staff members with expertise in helping people through hard times. The area also ensures that many people are benefited from its services through student ambassadors. The Recovery Village considers the University of Florida to be the fifth-best college for mental health. College Choice states that the college has the seventh-happiest freshmen.
8. University of California, Davis
The Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of California, Davis is well equipped to help students with homesickness. It offers individual therapy, group therapy, and a range of drop-in services. In addition to this formal homesickness offering, the college’s students have noted that they have overcome homesickness thanks to other college programs. One student, Emma Centeno, has written about how the college’s free cooking classes helped her recreate food from her home. College Magazine believes that the University of California, Davis is the second-best college for mental health awareness. The Recovery Village names the University of California, Davis, the seventh-best college for mental health.
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Students who become homesick while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have two formal resources to access. One of these is a mental health counseling service. The other is a wellness specialist. The college also notes that the campus and the wider city of Boston have many opportunities to help students with overcoming homesickness in less direct ways, such as through social events. College Magazine considers the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to be the fourth-best college for mental health awareness. US News states that it has the joint 64th best first-year experiences. College Choice regards the college’s freshmen to be the 42nd happiest.
6. Colby College
The Registrar’s Office at Colby College covers homesickness in its Healthy Colby First-Year Experience program. The first part of this program is specifically targeted to provide resiliency training for students who are missing their homes and families. The college’s counseling services are also wide-ranging, with everything from individual counseling to group meditation being offered. College Magazine considers Colby College to be the 10th best for mental health awareness. US News considers the college to have the joint 74th best first-year experiences. The Recovery Village considers the college the eighth-best for mental health.
5. Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
In addition to providing direct support to homesick students, Duke University also aims to work with the families of these students. The Student Affairs division tells these families that if a student returns home too frequently, it can be a hindrance to their integration and increase feelings of homesickness. This advice also stretches to how parents can constructively handle students when they do return home. College Magazine names Duke University the sixth-best college for mental health awareness advocacy. US News considers it to be the joint 44th best college for first-year experiences. College Choice states that it has the 33rd happiest freshmen.
4. Carleton College
Many different students who attend Carleton College have stated that the community was incredibly effective at overcoming homesickness. For example, international student Gnagna Lam has stated that the international student community is close. And Jevon Robinson has said that his on-campus friends have helped him overcome homesickness. College Magazine considers Carleton College the eighth-best college for advocating mental health. US News names it the 33rd best college for first-year experiences. And College Choice believes it is the college with the 40th happiest freshmen.
3. Columbia University
New York City, New York
Columbia University has many well-being initiatives that focus on helping people “achieve a balance and adjust to your life as a Columbia Student.” These range from more formal counseling services to more unique activities, such as wellness days. Perhaps the most proactive initiative on the Columbia University campus that addresses homesickness is the Task Force On Inclusion and Belonging. Campus Explorer states that Columbia University has the fifth-best freshman orientation. US News ranks the college as the joint 54th best for first-year experiences. College Choice states that it has the 20th happiest freshmen.
2. The Ohio State University
A wide range of campus resources exists to help students struggling with homesickness at The Ohio State University. These include dorm resident advisors, involvement fairs, wellness centers, and much more. The college’s Welcome Week is incredibly effective at helping new students find resources that make them feel at home. Thanks to this programming, Campus Explorer considers The Ohio State University to have the fourth-best freshman orientations. US News states that the college has the joint 54th best first-year experiences. And The Recovery Village names the college the second-best for mental health.
1. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The leadership at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is always looking at ways in which it can improve the positive experiences of students. In August 2021, a committee of the college’s deans, faculty, and staff released a report on innovative approaches to student mental health awareness. Many of the recommendations within this report are likely to improve homesickness alleviation. For example, the report calls for the college to put its mental health services into a strategic framework. College Magazine considers the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to be the best college for mental health awareness advocacy. US News names the college the joint 74th best college for first-year experiences. And College Choice considers its freshmen to be the 23rd happiest.
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