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Finding Their Place: Helping Students Feel at Home at Fisher

October 11, 2018

No matter what your student may be saying to you right now, many will certainly feel homesick when they first arrive at college. Your student will be surrounded by people and situations that are new and, for the first time for many of them, they will be “in charge” of navigating their own experience.

Students create posters during a club meeting.

Members of the Division of Student Affairs offers this advice: allow your student to find themselves. At the height of their discomfort, they may call you and want to come home.

What do you do if your student continues to be homesick or feels like they don’t fit in? 

Rebecca Kieffer, director of the Health and Wellness Center, explains that homesickness should also be considered from the mental health perspective. Homesickness is commonly a temporary state as students adjust to a new environment. Your student may call home and be stressed as some level of homesickness is to be expected. Kieffer clarifies that listening to a call for reprieve from campus is not detrimental; a break to then return to campus can be positive and beneficial. However, it’s also important to consider the warning signs—including not going to class, isolating behavior, changes in eating habits, or sleep issues—that could indicate a more significant issue.

Encourage your student to visit the Wellness Center or have a discussion about their feelings with another trusted adult on campus, like a professor. In October and November, the Wellness Center is coordinating a series of talks regarding resiliency and navigating social media. In addition, the Office of Campus Ministry is an excellent resource for support and pastoral counseling and FisherSync can help students find various organizations to join.

Navigating Boundaries

Your student is coming from a place where people know them. They are surrounded by people who may have not yet come to understand their boundaries. Students don’t always understand that coming into a new community means having to reestablish boundaries, and that being “friends” on Facebook, or following someone on Instagram or Snapchat does not always mean those people have an understanding of how they will want to be treated. Your student will need to be clear about what is acceptable and what isn’t for all facets of their experience here. They need to be comfortable saying, “No, that’s not ok,” when they are in an uncomfortable situation.

How can you support your student’s development of boundaries? Many students come to college not fully understanding what boundary development means or understanding their own personal boundaries. It’s valuable to be patient with your student as they adjust to the environment - they won’t get it right every time. It can be helpful to coach your student as they become an adult and learn to advocate for themselves. Talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Encourage your student to think about how they expect to be treated and how they will treat others. Being fearful of the reaction to saying “that’s not ok with me” often stops students from expressing what they want. Help your student understand that it is about their comfort and safety first.

Kieffer also points out the transition from high school to college is by far one of the most significant transitions and milestones for everyone, and this should be respected. She encourages parents to be open to hearing about boundary exploration with advice, and not judgment. If your student is involved in an uncomfortable situation and they would like to discuss it, there are a variety of campus resources they could use.

Campus Resources for Students

For concerns of a personal nature:

  • Health and Wellness Center – (585) 385-8280
  • Office of Residential Life – (585) 385-8281
  • Assistant Dean of Students – (585) 385-8007
  • Safety and Security – (585) 385-8025/(585) 385-8111 (emergency)           

For safety or security issues:

  • Safety and Security – (585) 385-8025/(585) 385-8111 (emergency)           
  • Office of Student Conduct – (585) 385-8007                                        
  • Assistant Dean of Students – (585) 385-8007