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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

Meadow Pike, a freshman at The Ohio State University, arrived on campus on Aug. 7 and has yet to feel homesick. She says she texts her mom daily, usually receiving a picture of her 8-year-old sister’s “fit checks.” She Snapchats her friends regularly, sending them funny pictures of the food delivery robots. When her younger brother calls her, she gets updates about what is going on at home, or he asks her for homework advice. 

When Marcia Koch started college in the fall of 1993, she had a more difficult time adjusting to moving away. Even though she had to pay 79 cents a minute, she called home every single day. She missed her friends from high school and was constantly wondering what was going on in their lives. She went home every other weekend, and if she didn’t have band, she would’ve left more. 

If Meadow was a freshman in 1993, and Marcia was a freshman in 2023, would their experiences adjusting to college have gone differently? 

Harry Warner, Associate Director of the Counseling and Consultation Service at The Ohio State University, believes that new technology is both helping and hindering how freshmen transition to college. On one hand, being able to instantly talk with loved ones is beneficial. Warner says that it is important to stay connected with family members, be reminded of the comforts of home and talk about how you are feeling. “You don’t have to be tough and say, ‘I got it.’ If you’re feeling homesick, talk about it,” Warner says. 

On the other hand, Warner says technology can keep students tied to the people they already know and get in the way of meeting new friends. When asked if new technology was impacting the retention rates for college freshmen, Jenny Osborn, Associate Director of First-Year Experience at The Ohio State University, says, “I don’t know that it’s changing retention, but it’s changing the conversations that we have with families.” Osborn says that they send a survey to parents every year and ask how often they are communicating with their students. Their findings are that usually, at least 30% get in touch once a day or more. 

“I don’t think I’ve been homesick at all, honestly,” says Erica Zirger, a current freshman at The Ohio State University. “I talk to my mom probably every day.” Zirger believes that being able to talk to her family and friends whenever she wants makes her miss them less because they are always up to date on each others’ lives. 

Madison Hiener, another freshman at Ohio State, also believes that having the ability to talk to her family whenever she wants helps ease the emotions of moving away. Hiener says, “Talking to them gives me a sense that everything is okay, and they know that I’m safe.”

Even though Justin Radic was a freshman at The Ohio State University in 1996, he also says he was never homesick. He only called his parents once a week, and of course, they didn’t text. The university was still not requiring students to sign up for a campus email address, but his family didn’t have an email yet anyway. Without today’s technology, he lost connection with old friends from home, but his adjustment to moving away was easy because he was able to find a sense of independence. “I can see the benefits of being a little more cut-off from the people that you knew in high school and your family because then it sort of forces you to not have that daily communication,” Radic says. “It forces you to reach out and make new relationships and really plug into the university setting.”

Jenny Osborn mentions that about 35% of Ohio State’s incoming freshmen are not from Ohio. She believes that the reason so many parents are willing to let their students leave the state, or even the country, to go to school is because they can be instantly connected or they can track their location. She says, “It feels safer knowing what’s going on, but it can really delay a sense of independence if students constantly feel like they’re being watched.”

For instance, Meadow Pike was ecstatic to move out, meet new people and have complete independence. One night, she visited some friends in another dorm, and when her mom saw her location, she got really upset. Pike says that her parents used to have her location as a precautionary measure, but now that they don’t know where people live or go to socialize, they seem to be tracking her location more than before. Students’ ability to find independence might not only be hindered by the way their parents use new technology but also by the way they use it themselves. 

Although some students feel that technology has made it easier for them to create and keep new friendships, many believe technology is eliminating organic communication. “Everyone is so invested in their phones that you can’t have a face-to-face conversation as much anymore,” says Hiener. “Everybody would just rather text even though you’re sitting three rooms away from each other.”

Harry Warner says that before cell phones, you had to go out into the common area to see what was going on, go out to dinner with classmates or join student organizations because there was no choice if you wanted to make friends. “I think that necessity pushed people through that social anxiety,” he says.

Lantz Snavely, also an Ohio State freshman, agrees that a lot of people are relying on technology more than social interaction. He says, “I think it does help in some aspects as far as connecting further and strengthening that core group. But actually meeting new people? I think it probably hurts.”

Despite its possible negative impacts, many students are thankful for the quick communication that technology allows them to have. Meredith Haynes, a freshman at The Ohio State University, was a little nervous that she was going to miss her friends and her dog after moving away, but overall she thought she was going to be fine. She started the semester and wasn’t feeling homesick, but then she received the news that her mom had been admitted to the hospital. Since then, Haynes has been home every weekend for doctor’s appointments and to visit her mom. With new technology, she can stay updated and make sure everything is okay. Haynes says, “I feel like they’re not so far away.”

Warner says that the transition to college is difficult for everyone in some way, but the vast majority do well. He advises students to push themselves out of their comfort zones, fill spaces with reminders of home, take care of themselves and when they do visit home, be intentional.

For more resources to help with the move to college, visit go.osu.edu/ccsondemand.

My name is Ellie Keehn and I am a freshman at The Ohio State University! I am an English major and Art and Media Production and Analysis minor.