Q. My college freshman is homesick. What can I do?
A. Once the novelty wears off, some students long for their old surroundings, routines and support systems, says Todd Patkin, a Tufts University graduate and co-author of "Finding Happiness: One Man's Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and -- Finally -- Let the Sunshine In" (StepWise Press, $19.95). "Even people who were popular and really the tops in their class and had so much fun, all of a sudden here they are in college and they're struggling," Patkin says. His advice:
Your first reaction might be to tell her not to worry, she'll get used to it. Don't. Rather, say, "Everything you're feeling is normal. This is a big adjustment."
Ask: Do you feel academic pressure? Do you like your classes? Do you have problems with your roommate? Are you overwhelmed by tasks such as laundry?
Don't drop your weekend plans to make a spontaneous visit. Give her a chance to cope. But do take the edge off by making plans for a future visit. Looking forward to seeing you or to a visit home might be just the remedy. Also, take advantage of technology such as Skype. But don't confess you're feeling lonely and sad without her, too.
If your child has been homesick for weeks, insist he look for resources through the college's counseling center. "Trust your gut," Patkin says. "You know your child better than anyone else."
Remember she can always transfer closer to home.