Information for the parents of college students
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Should My College Student Come Home for Weekends?

When your college student first leaves for college you may be anxious to have her come home again for a visit.  You want to be able to touch bases in person, cook her favorite meal, reassure yourself that she is fine, and find out how things are going for her.  If your student attends college reasonably close to home, weekend visits home may be an option.  Can they be a bad thing?

Getting home to visit family, catch up on sleep, get a few home-cooked meals, and even get some laundry done is not a bad thing.  Occasionally, it may be just what your student needs.  If your student is feeling serious homesickness, she may need to reconnect with family and recharge.  However, there are some things you should consider before encouraging your college student to spend many weekends at home.

Unhappiness in the first weeks may be normal

First of all, both you and your college student should realize that a certain degree of homesickness, or general unhappiness at college, is normal in the first few weeks.  Many students have more difficulty adjusting than they had anticipated.  You may receive the dreaded phone call from your student saying that he is miserable.  You need to remember, and you need to reassure him, that the reaction is normal and that, for most students, it will pass.  Coming home may not be the best antidote. (We’ve written an earlier post with some suggestions for handling that “meltdown phone call”.)

Why does she want to come home?

 

So why might this student, who couldn’t wait to leave home to get to college, suddenly want to come home again?  Obviously, the transition to college is a big one.  Students arrive on campus and their lives change dramatically.  They may find that the independence and autonomy that they want so much is hard work.  Once the novelty of the experience wears off, they may want a break from being in charge of their lives.  They may want someone else to take care of them for a bit.  They may be exhausted and just need to recharge their battery.  They may need to reassure themselves that family and home haven’t changed and are still there for them.

All of these reasons for wanting to come home for a visit are valid, and a weekend at home may be just the thing for your student.  But try to encourage your student to make this an exception rather than a regular routine.

Why should I encourage my student to stay on campus on the weekends?

 

Weekends on campus may seem like “down time” to many students, but “down time” is important for everyone.  There may be fewer students on campus because many students may go home.  Weekends are times when your student can connect with other students outside of the classroom.  They may attend on-campus or off-campus events.  They may just spend time getting to know each other.  Clubs or organizations may hold activities.  Students who are engaged at college are better students – and weekends are an important time for feeling engaged and part of the college community.  Students who remain on campus on the weekends are often more involved in their new community.

What can parents do?

 

Here are some things to think about if your student is asking to come home for the weekend.

  • If you find yourself encouraging your student to come home for weekends, take a moment to think about whether you want him to come home for him or for you.  Does your student need to see you, or do you need to see him?
  • Try to stall for a bit.  Ask your student to wait a few weeks before visiting home.  Encourage her to give herself some time to start to feel more connected at school.
  • Encourage your student to get out of his room on weekends and do things with other students.
  • Encourage your student to use some weekend time to get studying done so he will have more free time during the week.
  • Remind her that you may be visiting campus in a few weeks for Family or Parents Weekend.  Make specific plans for what you will do together.
  • If possible, suggest that you make a visit to campus rather than having your student come home.  You can connect and spend time together in his new environment.  Do something on campus.  Go shopping.  Take him out to dinner.
  • Make use of alternate ways of keeping in touch on weekends – phone calls, skype or videoconferencing.
  • Discuss the costs of frequent trips home and consider whether it makes financial sense to come home often.

Students may need to come home for the weekend occasionally.  It is a good thing.  But students who want to come home every weekend may need to reconsider what they are forfeiting by leaving campus.  As a parent, of course you don’t want to tell your student that you don’t want her home, but do what you can to encourage her to stay on campus and get involved.  Her adjustment to college will happen more quickly and she may be more satisfied with her experience in the long run.

Related Posts:

What Do I Do If My College Student Is Homesick?

Be Prepared for the “Meltdown” Phone Call from Your College Freshman

Helping Your College Student Be a Better Student: Twelve Questions to Ask

College Parents Can Help Freshmen Overcome First Semester Challenges

Are There Secrets to College Success?

College Family Weekend or Parents’ Weekend Provides Multiple Opportunities for College Parents

Why You Should Encourage Your College Student to Get Involved on Campus

Welcoming Your College Student Home for Holiday Visits – What to Expect

5 comments

1 Nanette { 09.17.16 at 5:44 pm }

I was not so focus on her being homesick as much as I wanted her to find her niche, get involved and develop solid college friendships during her first year on campus.. We were always close and I was missing her more but I did not want my empty-nest emotions factor in her on campus life. I had been a transfer student decades ago and I was only homesick for my friends I had left behind. So unfortunately, I did not factor in that she was a very young 18 years old compared to me being 21.8 years old living on campus. My best friend intervened by her experiences of being a 17 years old college freshman and encouraged me to rethink my daughter’s request to come home. Plus she was living in a room built for two roommates but the college put in three students. So I relaxed my rule of a 3-4 weeks stay on campus before coming home for a visit and that eased her stress levels. Which as a parent you want home to be that sanctuary for your children.

2 DAK { 09.08.14 at 11:01 am }

My son just started college and he wants to come every weekend. My mother and sister say he should stay. I pick him up and take him back. The college is about 1 hour and 45 minutes each way. I make his favorite food and do his laundry. He gets recharged. He is an only child. I have mixed feelings on this issue. I miss him and love to see him. But I also want him to make friends and enjoy being at college. My husband and I know that one day he will not come home. So for now we to see him for as long as we can. His transition of having a roommate, community bathroom and a cafeteria has been a lot for him so far. College started 2 weeks ago. He seems to be trying very hard at his studies. He is not outgoing or an athletic person. Just one week at a time for now.

3 jslee { 03.31.12 at 12:20 pm }

I think this is ridiculous. My boyfriend’s nephew comes home every weekend from college. His parents actually make the 2 1/2 trip each way back and forth. They get his laundry and do it for him while he is home. This is a “vocational” college, Delhi. He is in a program that contains electrical as part of his curriculum. My boyfriend has his own electrical business. This student will not go out on his own to find work for the summer. He expects his uncle to employ him and he will. What is this teaching this college student about life?? I think the whole scenario is quite sickening.

4 Vicki { 09.22.09 at 8:18 am }

You make a great point, Nichelle, about high school friends moving on. It’s sad to let go of a chapter in life that’s been so important, and sometimes it’s hard to do. Fortunately, today, students have lots of options for keeping in touch with “home” friends besides actually going home. It’s possible to make new friends, and put down roots at college, and still keep in touch with “hometown” friends. The relationship with those friends from home will change, but it’s possible to stay connected as everyone “moves on”. Thanks for adding your thoughts!

5 Nichelle { 09.21.09 at 3:19 pm }

Great article! I’ve seen many college students (friends, relatives, and others) enter the cycle of coming home every weekend. Once in a while is great and, as you mentioned, can be beneficial. Those trying to hang on to high school friendships will eventually find that even friends who stay in the area will “move on” in various ways. One simply can’t hold on to chapters in a life that way. Though change can be a bit frightening, weekends are an opportunity to grow and form new relationships and interests. Some students will need that extra loving push that gets them to stay put in an unfamiliar environment – fortunately, it rarely takes long to adapt after that.

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