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Publication Date


First Advisor

Maryjane Wraga

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Social support, Homesickness, First-generation students, Autobiographical memory


The concept of adjustment to college for first-generation (FG) students comes up frequently in psychology research; however, there hasn’t been much focus on how FGs experience homesickness specifically, and even less research on how homesickness might affect cognitive abilities. The present study investigated the impact of homesickness on autobiographical memories, for FG and non-first-generation (NFG) students, as well as the role of social support in the experience of homesickness. Fifty-eight undergraduate student participants from Smith College (44 NFG, 14 FG) participated in an online survey-based study where they were asked to recall memories for common word prompts and provide additional information about the location of the memories (home, college, or other), how they felt about the memories in terms of various memory dimensions (including homesickness), and the emotions the memories elicited. Participants also rated how homesick they felt in general, and the extent of social support (and lack thereof) they received from peers and family members. We found that FG students had slightly higher levels of homesickness compared to NFGs; however, this difference was not significant. We also found that more than half of the memory dimensions moderately impacted homesickness ratings of word prompts for both groups of participants. Most importantly, high levels of support from family members (but not peers) significantly decreased homesickness ratings of memories for FG students, but not NFG students. The latter finding indicates that support of family members may be more consequential for FG students when handling emotional aspects of the transition to college.


©2019 Mathena Alexis Abramson Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




39 pages : color chart. Includes bibliographical references (pages 29-33)