Ole Miss Family Association

University of Mississippi

The Empty Nest Is Full Again

Light pole on campus with the University of Mississippi Flags hangingSo many of our Ole Miss families are in a spot they never imagined. They packed up their students in August, sent them off to college, only to be living with them again since spring break.

We are all in the middle of an unsettling and uncertain time. Guidelines change hourly, and with that may come overwhelming emotions such as anxiety. Whether you are anxious about having your student back home or your student is experiencing a personal crisis, the Ole Miss family will continue to support you and your student as you navigate this time together.


Here are a few concerns we’re seeing from families along with suggestions:

“My student has no set schedule, and it’s driving me nuts!”

Students don’t return with the same 8 a.m.-3 p.m. mentality from high school. They have navigated having classes at different hours of the day and using their free time to study, be with friends or procrastinate! While it is important to continue encouraging them, make sure you are treating them as if they were on campus. They are young adults and should be maintaining their own schedule, alarm, even laundry!

“I am worried about my son. He stays in his room most days, and we only see him when he’s hungry.”

This is one of the biggest concerns we’ve received. Your student may need to talk to someone. If you live in the state of Mississippi, have him reach out to the University Counseling Center for telemental health. Because of national licensing requirements, our clinicians can’t work across state lines. Referral services are available to clients from the campus community who are out of state. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 662-915-3784 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or email counslg@olemiss.edu. You can also reach out to your family doctor to find a counselor or therapist in your area. Talking to someone about the uncertainty of the world we are in right now could help your student. Again, we are in uncharted waters. Social distancing isn’t easy on anyone, but we are seeing increased anxiety from college-age students who have packed up and left their university and friends behind.

“I thought my daughter would have more time for me, but she’s always on her phone!”

First, phones aren’t always bad. Smartphones are just small computers. Your student may be completing an assignment, working on a group discussion board or playing a mindless game. Our suggestion is meeting her where she is. Send a text asking when would be a good night for eating dinner together or relaxing in front of the television. Perhaps drop a care kit at the door (highlighters, sticky notes or a snack). Our students don’t have the same coping skills you have accumulated over your lifetime. Meeting her where she is involves taking into account her time-management schedule. See what works best for your family, but remember she is still a full-time student.

An Opportunity for Meaningful Family Conversation

When was the last time you were encouraged to stay away from people but grow closer to your family? What brings your student joy? What scares him/her? This is the time to learn from one another – to talk about family history, share a favorite recipe, play cards or board games, learn a new skill or complete a family project!

Ole Miss families, this is also a time to cut yourselves some slack. I have to practice this every day with my 5-year-old who acts like a college freshman! It’s OK if everything isn’t done in one day. Don’t sweat the small stuff during the pandemic. Family disagreements are going to happen. Many students and families are exhausted. Give grace to yourself and others around you.

We ARE the Ole Miss family, and we will navigate this together! At this time, I am working from home. If you have an emergency or your student needs someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call my cell phone at 662-266-0147.


Take care,

Merrill Magruder