Isabelle Schmidt

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — It’s that time of year when Winthrop University welcomes a new class of wide-eyed freshman and for some it’s an easy transition to college life, but for others it can be more challenging.

“It was hard for me to leave home,” said Emily Kellet, a freshman musical theater major.

“The hard part about living on campus is not being able to go home as much as I want too,” said Tyler Canteen, a junior majoring in exercise science.

For many freshmen, this is their first time away from home and most will suffer some degree of homesickness, but for some, loneliness or anxiety can be severe.

According to Gretchen Baldwin, clinical coordinator for Winthrop’s Health and Counseling Services, 132 freshmen have already come into the counselor’s office since the fall semester started.

The top five reasons freshman seek counseling, according to Baldwin, include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder and academic or educational problems.

“Anxiety is the number one reason any client comes in to see us,” said Baldwin.

A number of upperclassmen said they dealt with homesickness by getting involved on campus, staying busy and meeting new people.

“I found a lot of new friends here,” said Melody Bryden, a junior exercise science major. “They have allowed me to grow in the confidence of myself and also allowed me to have so many new experiences.”

For Nigeria Bay, a sophomore athletic training major, the separation from family was easier because she had traveled extensively.

However, Bay said she had a hard time balancing the new social opportunities with the academic responsibilities.

“Get your work done, plan ahead and time management is key. Also know the difference when you have to do work and when you can have fun,” said Bay.

“The best way to deal with homesickness is to get involved on campus. Students who go home every weekend and call (or) communicate with parents 24/7 will not get better”, said Baldwin.

“Students who get out of their room, get involved in clubs and orgs or with their hall…are the ones who will make a home for themselves here.”

The university offers a number of resources to help students with homesickness. For example, the Principles of the Learning Academy, commonly known as ACAD, helps first-year students with the transition from home to campus life.

The course teaches academic and study skills, but also helps students adjust and become more involved through the guidance of a peer mentor.

“The peer mentors for ACAD helped a lot. The fact that everyone is so friendly helps make the transition a lot more comfortable,” said Kellet.

Winthrop also features over 160 student organizations that include interests that range from the Cultural Club to the Skydiving Club.

“There are a lot of clubs and organizations on campus that are very welcoming and a good way to meet other people,” said Lauren Bolin, a freshman early childhood education major.

“Be open to trying things because you’re never going to make a home for yourself if you just stay by yourself,” said Bryden. “I thought that the transition would be really hard, but I found this place to have a very homey feel to it.”