BYU freshmen adjust to being on their own

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(Maddi Dayton)
Many incoming freshmen experience homesickness, leading them to call home often. (Maddi Dayton illustration)

Over 4,000 new freshmen enter into BYU every year according to BYU’s Y facts. Many among these thousands of students experience anxiety and homesickness.

Dr. Brian Harke of the Huffington Post said these feelings of homesickness, anxiety and inadequacy can be a huge problem for freshmen. He reported in the Huffington Post that these feelings cause 34 percent of new freshmen to drop out of college every year.

Tyler Pedersen, a counselor at BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, said homesickness is completely normal. He mentioned some of the factors that go into feeling homesick are making new friends, adjusting to school requirements and additional pressures such as stress.
“It’s a very common concern for freshmen leaving home for the first time,” Pedersen said.
Dr. Mikle South, an associate psychology professor specializing in clinical psychology, behavioral neuroscience and developmental psychology at BYU, agreed.
“Beginning college is a big adjustment in many ways, including a big
increase in personal responsibility to eat and get to class on time
and new people to meet and so many things that are different, without
the previous support system to help out,” South said in an email. “There are many new and hard
things that come all at once and that can feel overwhelming.”

Some BYU freshman from out of state said they have experienced different levels of homesickness.

Bridie Burchett, a freshman from Texas, said she occasionally gets homesick.

“There’s times when I’ll see something that reminds me of my family and I wish they were here,” Burchett said.

Abby Miles, a freshman from Auburn, Washington, said she has not been too homesick.

“I have a lot of family here, so it’s really not that bad,” Miles said.

Carrie Christensen, a freshman from Atlanta, Georgia, said she has had brief moments of homesickness, but she combats it by filling her time with other activities.

“As long as I keep busy, I don’t think about it too much,” Christensen said.

A common theme among these students was they were less homesick than they were feeling unprepared. College freshmen are usually out on their own for the first time, and have to learn to do things for themselves. Christensen said preparation is key.

“My mom’s made sure for years that I knew how to cook and how to do laundry,” Christensen said. “It was just the concept of going out into the world alone that made me feel inadequate.”

The Huffington Post reported that much of the anxiety is caused by uncertainty, and homesickness is not as simple as missing one’s family. The post supported that it is about missing the familiarity of favorite meals, one’s own room, and even the less attractive parts of home, like getting in trouble with parents.

Christensen admitted she calls her family five out of seven days a week.

“I miss being close to my family,” Christensen said. “Not being able to see them all the time is hard.”

Student looks at photos of family.  Feeling homesick is a completely normal part of college.  (Maddi Dayton)
Feeling homesick and missing family is a completely normal part of college for many students.
(Maddi Dayton illustration)

Burchett explained that one of the things she misses most about home is Blue Bell Ice Cream, which is not commonly sold around Provo. She said the transition from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond has been difficult.

“When you are at home you are in your comfort zone and you know what you’re good at,” Burchett said. “But when you go to college, you’re not necessarily the best at an instrument or the smartest person in your class.”

These freshmen said they have adjusted well to being on their own for the first time, even though it can be hard. They said they have found support and comfort in their peers who are all in the same boat.

“Having roommates and making new friends definitely helps,” Miles said. “It’s crazy, but I’m getting used to it.”

Students can also find resources on campus to combat homesickness, including speaking with a counselor at BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center.

Pedersen offered some of his own advice to students who feel homesick.
“My number one suggestion would be that they throw themselves into their new environment,” Pedersen said.  “The sooner they start connecting to the new place, the more likely they are to get over their homesickness.”
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