Homesickness and Adjustment Across the First Year of College: A Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Homesickness can put individuals at risk for a host of adjustment difficulties. The millions of students that leave home for college each year may be particularly susceptible to experiencing homesickness. There is little work, however, examining individual variation in homesickness over time and how these changes predict different outcomes in college. The present study examines weekly levels of homesickness during the first term of college and tests the associations between homesickness and various aspects of adjustment. Results showed that, on average, homesickness decreased slightly across the first semester of college, but there were individual differences in homesickness trajectories. Freshmen who reported higher levels of homesickness showed worse overall adjustment to college, even when controlling for negative emotional experience and prior adjustment. Homesickness was associated with poorer social outcomes, but these social difficulties were limited to interactions with others in the college environment. Academic outcomes were not adversely impacted by homesickness. Findings suggest that homesickness is a common experience for freshmen, and, despite its relatively transient nature, homesickness has important implications for college adjustment.

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