For many students, college is a home away from home. Going back to their hometown is a chance to find stability and solid ground when school becomes stressful.
However, when students have problems occurring at home, or their loved ones need their support, it can be hard to handle due to the distance.
This is a common issue for students. Parents may be going through a divorce or friends back home might need help getting through a rough patch. In these cases, students do not know where to find support or what their attention should be focused on.
“It’s not uncommon for students who have something difficult going on at home to feel torn and unsure of where they should be,” Allyson Hawkins, associate director of programs at Student Counseling Services, said. “As a result, they begin to have problems concentrating in school.”
The first thing students should keep in mind is that they should not be solely responsible for supporting their loved ones at home.
“Students should remind themselves that they can’t be the only source of support for a parent or a friend back home,” Hawkins said. “Focus on what you can do for that person and be realistic.”
Hawkins suggests checking in with a loved one two or three times a week, but setting boundaries.
For example, establish the amount of time spent talking with them, considering other responsibilities as well.
That way, Hawkins says, students can feel like they aren’t abandoning their loved ones, but they also aren’t giving their lives over.
For students struggling with problems back at home, Student Health Services suggests finding someone you can trust here at school.
This could be a roommate, a close friend or even a counselor. Putting emotions and confusion out on the table and getting another perspective can alleviate some of the burden students may feel.
Additionally, students need to make sure they are not letting their studies fall by the wayside. Studying or finishing homework can actually be a great distraction.
It also gives students a sense of control and confidence when they complete a task on their own, Hawkins added.
Finally, Hawkins highly recommends to make sure to have plenty of “me-time.”
“At least once a week, shut off from whatever’s going on at home and do something to replenish yourself,” Hawkins said.
She suggests going out with friends on the weekend or watching a movie.