College Transitions: Home and Away




Kohler, Janelle

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Homesickness has been conceptualized in many ways, including having an attachment to home and disliking one's new environment (Archer et al., 1998). Studies have shown that at least 94% of students reported feelings of homesickness during their first ten weeks of college (English et al., 2017). Homesickness correlates positively with anxiety and depression (Archer et al., 1998), can lead to thoughts of suicide (Watt & Badger, 2009), disrupts concentration, leads to forgetfulness (Burt, 1993; Fisher & Hood, 1987), and is associated with lower GPA and lower retention rates (Sun et al., 2016). This study aimed to examine how social identities and identity formation impact homesickness in college students. Specifically, we sought to determine the degree to which variables such as persistent whole relationships, maintenance of previous groups, previous and current group compatibility, new whole relationships formed, and new group memberships mediated the relationship between 1) distance and, 2) commitment to identity and outcome variables including homesickness and subjective well-being. Our results support the notion that having whole relationships, forming new groups, and group compatibility are important factors in predicting homesickness and subjective well-being. Direct effects were found from commitment to an identity to homesickness and subjective well-being for those who moved away from home. Commitment to identity was also a significant predictor for subjective well-being for those students who still lived at home.


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belongingness, college, homesick, identity, social support, well-being