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2011 August

College Colors Day – September 2nd

Following up on a post the Daily Deac did earlier this week about the Student Leaders Retreat and school spirit, the Parent Programs office received this email about wearing black and gold.  If your students aren’t aware and you are a reader, please share it with them!

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Show your Support for the Demon Deacons! Wear Black and Gold on September 2, 2011

Sometimes holidays can be a bit complex to celebrate. There might be travel involved, gifts to purchase, and tough decisions to make on which outfit to wear. For those looking for an alternative to the more challenging holidays, look no further than College ColorsDay. This holiday is so easy to participate in, we’ve broken it down into one easy step.

Are you ready? Here it is.

Step 1: Wear Black and Gold on Friday, September 2, 2011.

It’s that easy! Reach into your closet, throw on your Wake Forest gear, and head to campus or work. Show your school spirit by wearing your Demon Deacon hats, earrings ,T-shirts, ties, watches – anything Black and Gold – on September 2nd, and you’ll be a part of one of the most easiest, yet spirited holidays in America.

Don’t have anything to wear? Make a stop by the Hanes Mall Deacon Shop here in Winston-Salem, or a local retailer for all your College Colors Day needs. More information on College Colors Day 2011.

Student Leader Retreat

Yesterday there was a gathering of administrators and the leaders of student organizations.  They do a student leader retreat at least once a year and its a time to gather the students on campus who lead their respective groups and work on a campus issue or initiative.  Because I was student advising yesterday I missed the first half of the retreat, but came in for the second half, which was about increasing campus pride and the bystander effect.

First, campus pride. The students and administrators talked a lot about how to increase campus pride.  This could take any number of forms – wearing WFU apparel on campus (as opposed to other schools, particularly our rival schools), having students stay for entire sporting events (not leave at halftime and not come back), to having “Black and Gold” Fridays before big games.  The students had a lot of interesting suggestions for more than just athletic topics – they wanted to encourage attendance at more events on campus and seemed focused on increasing cultural competency for things like the arts.  It was a productive discussion – rest assured we have some great student leaders.

The end of the retreat featured a guest speaker named Mike Dilbeck, who is from the Response Ability Project.  His organization’s goal is to try and empower student leaders to take active responsibility on their campuses to improve pride, safety, community, tolerance, etc. by combating what is known as the “Bystander Effect” – someone sees something going wrong, but they fail to take action for some reason (fear, thinking its someone else’s responsibility, etc.)

Mike’s message to the 60+ student leaders was that “you cannot be a leader and a bystander at the same time” and he gave the group some tools to help understand Bystander Effect and why it is so important that leaders intervene in issues (be they large or small) that might undercut campus pride, sense of community, and certainly safety.  The Response Ability website describes it like this:

“There are moments in life where you want to make a difference, where you want to be an ‘everyday hero’ — to help someone and take care of them — and you don’t. You are frozen. You find yourself unable to do or say what you want to do or say. This is bystander behavior and, in that moment, you are being a bystander. Being a bystander doesn’t mean you are a bad, awful person. Being a bystander simply means that you are a human being experiencing a very common phenomenon: bystander behavior. Most of the problems in our society today involve bystanders – those who know about a problem and do nothing. Say nothing.”

He gave three rules for people to use when they see something that they feel is wrong:

1. IDENTIFY the situation as a problem

2. GO BEYOND just your immediate thought.  In other words, if you see something wrong but no one else is doing anything about it, don’t assume that it is not a problem or that someone else will handle it.  We all have the power to do the right thing.

3.TAKE ACTION

After the session, he emailed all participants a 3 Tools Handout to explain his message in greater detail.

Mike’s message was that we all have the ability to positively impact people, and that as community members it is our responsibility to look out for our fellow classmates and people on campus.  It was a pretty powerful session, and with so much campus leadership in the room, I feel very encouraged that his message will spread throughout those students’ respective organizations.

For more information about the Response Ability project, visit their website.

Reflections After Move In Weekend

It’s a beautiful morning on Wake Forest’s campus.  The sun is shining, it is going to be a pretty day, with a high of 85 degrees.  Not too hot, classes haven’t started yet, students have a couple days to buy their books, see their friends, learn the lay of the land (freshmen) and get acclimated before school starts.

I spent a good deal of the weekend on campus between Orientation programming and meetings with my freshmen advisees and I have to say it appears to all be going very well.  At our Parent Programs table in Benson Center during the Campus Information Fair, I talked to a lot of parents who seemed very pleased by the ease of the move in process, at how pretty the campus is, how nice their child’s roommate and hallmates seem to be.  Generally just a lot of goodwill.

I attended the Parents In Transition session on Friday evening – this is a program run by our Counseling Center and Student Health Center, talking about the transitions that occur in families when a student leaves for college.  There were something in the range of 600+ parents in the room, and everyone had some moments of chuckling at observations of what their students are like during move in (they may act short or irritated with you because they aren’t sure how to process their nervousness that you are leaving) as well as some poignant moments too (as when our excellent counselor, James Raper, told parents that their kids worry about them after they leave – worry about their health, their jobs, their marriage – things the kids never tell their parents, but will tell James).  It was a very solid session on how to let go productively, and the advice is sort of simple: let them be who they are, don’t rush in to solve problems for them but instead let them struggle a little and learn they are capable of doing it, try to rein in any of your own anxiety and emotions and not project it on them, tell them you love them and that they are capable people; they need that affirmation.

The other highlight of course was meeting my own advising group.  While respecting the privacy of my students, I can tell you they represent North and South, East and West, different races, different course preferences, some sporty, others not.  They are a lovely and energetic group and it is going to be a privilege to help guide them these first two years.

So far the biggest fears they have are 8:00 am classes (which I find hilarious), trying to figure out the politics of roommate relations, which professors have which reputations.  I am trying to tell each of them not to worry too much about all that – they will work their way through it all, and their big job over the next four years (in addition to learning academic stuff) is to figure out who they are, and how to be that person.  It’s a wonderful journey.

Last Minute Advice for Move In

Our newest Deac families are probably already en route to campus – or at the very least packing their bags and checking/rechecking the ‘to do’ list to make sure nothing is forgotten.  Now is probably a good time to offer a few well-intended suggestions for move in.

Be patient – with 1,200+ new students moving in on the same day, there will be times where you have to wait in line.  It could be in the car driving to your student’s residence hall, at the Campus Fair in Benson to pick up ID cards and keys, or even to get lunch.  Know that you have all day to accomplish things, and don’t fret about a wait.

Stay hydrated – if it is warm and sunny outside and you are helping move in all your student’s possessions, you can get overheated.  There are drink stations outside all the dorms.  Please stay hydrated.

Be diplomatic - you will most likely be meeting your student’s roommate and family sometime during Move In.  The students will have to navigate who gets which bed, who puts their things where, etc.  It’s best to let the students decide these things, and let Mom and Dad remain Switzerland in the process.

Understand your student may act a little differently – he or she might be excited, or nervous, or trying to put on a brave face with his/her new peers in an unfamiliar situation, or he/she may want to act independently in getting all the business of move in taken care of.  Every student handles the hustle and bustle of move in differently.  Be there with a supportive hug when needed, and let the student have his/her distance when needed.

Honor the Orientation schedule. There will be activities for students only, and activities for parents only.  When they are scheduled to attend an activity with their advising group or their hall, let them do that.  This is the students’ chance to bond, and also to begin separating from their family.

Have fun whenever you can. Sure, it can be a grind to move in and deal with extra trips to Target or the grocery store and such, but this is the start of what we hope will be four of the best years of your student’s life.  Celebrate.  Be excited.  Recall your own time at college and how it was fun.  You are making family memories now that will last a lifetime.  Take pictures – your student will want to remember this day, and so will you.

Before you leave, tell your students that you love them, that you are proud of them, that they’ll do well, and that you trust them. This is the most important of all.  Nothing makes it better like your family can make it better, and we all need someone to remind us that we are loved and valued and capable.

Move In – Part 3

There is a huge flurry of last minute activity as we prepare for the arrival of the first year students.  As the Parent Programs staff is busy preparing for Orientation activities, we thought you might like a look back at some photos from previous Move In Days.

(I just love this tiara!)

More from Move Ins Past

We continue to look ahead to Orientation and first year student arrivals this week by looking back at some of the best photos from the last few Move In Days.  Enjoy!

Move In Retrospective

In preparation for Move In Day, we’re offering a retrospective of some of the Move Ins of days past.  New WFU families – this is what your first year students have to look forward to this week.  Upperclass families, enjoy the look back at your own students’ experiences.

Welcome, New Fellows

A few years ago,  the Wake Forest Fellows Program was created to provide recent graduates a chance to work in higher administration in a year-long internship. Fellows are assigned to one of several administrative offices, including  the Provost’s Office, University Advancement, Student Life, and Information Systems. They are full-time university employees.

I’ve had the privilege of working with many of the Fellows over the past two years, and they are terrific additions to the administration.  They bring with them excitement, energy, the fresh perspective of a recent graduate, and outstanding critical thinking skills.  I don’t yet have the names of all the new Fellows, but I do have two great pictures – one serious, one very light.  Will try to add names later, but enjoy seeing our newest Fellows having some fun below.

Advice from New Student Receptions

At our New Student Receptions this summer, we shared information with parents and students about important deadlines, facts, and best practices for getting off to a great start.  Whether you came to a New Student Reception and want a refresher course, or you weren’t able to attend and want a quick hit list of things to think about – we’re offering the “Best of” our talking points below.

Urge your student to check his/her WFU email account daily. Administrators and faculty  will communicate with the student via email – not by text, or IM.

Tuition Notices/Bills – all billing is done through DEAC (Deacon Electronic Account Center).  Students should strongly consider authorizing a third party payer (such as their parents) so that person can receive emails notifying of charges.  Some students who have not authorized their parents have missed tuition deadlines and only discovered that when they were blocked from registering for courses!  Better to have a third party authorized so they get the emails too!

Tuition Insurance – Wake Forest encourages parents to consider tuition insurance, which will help minimize the financial loss if the student suffers a serious illness or accident and has to withdraw before the end of the semester.

Health Insurance – All full-time students are required to have health insurance.  Your student will automatically be enrolled in the Student Blue health insurance plan unless you have other coverage and request a waiver of the University’s plan.  Deadline for the waiver is August 29th, or your student will be enrolled automatically in Student Blue/you will be billed for the coverage.

Housing – Encourage your student to take seriously the Roommate Agreement document, which roommates are supposed to complete at the beginning of the term.  This process ensures that roommates talk about their expectations of each other and how they will live together (Is it OK to share clothes? Is it OK to eat the other person’s food? What are study hours? What time is lights out? etc.)  Then if there are disagreements later, they can return to the Roommate Agreement and either renegotiate or recommit to what they agreed to do.  Also, if there is a roommate conflict, those are typically best resolved by the students themselves; resist the urge to intervene!

FERPA (Family Educational Right to Privacy Act): Universities are prohibited from releasing information about a student (such as grades or academic standing) unless the student specifically waives his/her FERPA rights by signing a release form.  If you want to be able to receive midterm and end of semester grades, the student must sign a FERPA form and return it to the Registrar’s office.

Alcohol: there is a great online resource for talking to your student about alcohol use.  While every family will have its own expectations for student behavior where alcohol is concerned, it is important to discuss those expectations now, before school starts.  Studies show that when students talk to their parents on a Friday or Saturday, they typically drink less alcohol that evening – even if the conversation has nothing to do with alcohol!  Just having the connection to family makes a difference!

Academic Issues: If a student is struggling in a class, he/she should ask for help as soon as possible.  Procrastination helps no one!  Urge your student to seek out his professors, go to the Learning Assistance Center for individual or group tutoring, and/or visit the Office of Academic Advising.  It is much easier to tackle issues at the beginning than let them get out of hand.

Sources of Support: It may take time for your son or daughter to adjust to being away, and there may be times where they feel they are struggling a little bit.  Dealing with the ups and downs of life helps builds resilience, so a little struggle can be a good thing.  However, if students need support, they have access to a lot of terrific resources:  their RA, their personal academic adviser, University Counseling Center, campus ministers, Office of Academic Advising.  Encourage them to seek out what they need.

Office of Personal and Career Development: While graduation seems like a very long way from now, as soon as your students come to campus, they embark on the path “from college to career” – and we have a very comprehensive Office of Personal and Career Development who can equip your students with the tools they will need to discover their gifts, talents, and passions so they can direct their graduate school or job search in the most productive way possible.  Urge your students to register with the Career Development office (a subset of the OPCD) when they arrive – they are on the 2nd floor of Reynolda Hall.

Parents’ Page:  While you have been accustomed to using the New Students website this summer, it will go away after orientation.  Parents and families should bookmark the Parents’ Page, which is your portal for parent news and information.  There is a Daily Deac blog for parents, as well as a Q&A section and departmental contact list.

Any time the Parent Programs office can be of service to you, please be in touch.  You may reach us at parents@wfu.edu or 336.758.4237.

GO DEACS!

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Deac families, perhaps you are old enough to remember the first essay assignment at the beginning of a new elementary school year – “What I Did Over Summer Vacation.”  Well, a lot of us at Wake Forest spent the summer getting ready to welcome the students back to campus, and especially to welcome the newest Class of 2015.

In the Parent Programs office, one of the signature portions of our summer is to plan and host New Student Receptions, so that incoming first year students and their families have a chance to meet each other and make connections before school starts.  While we try to host them in as many areas in the country where we have a significant number of new Wake Foresters, we unfortunately cannot reach every state and every area.  Still, we had an impressive run this summer, and thought we’d share with you a few facts about how we spent our summer vacation, as it relates to these receptions.

Number of receptions hosted: 32

Number of new WFU families (students and/or parents) who registered to attend a reception: 580

Percentage of incoming students who registered to attend a reception: 47

Total number of people (including students, families, staff hosts, and alumni) who registered to attend a reception: 1,666

Number of Wake Forest staff members who attended a reception(s): 26

Total number of miles traveled by WFU staff to attend receptions (roundtrip): 45,176

Below is an illustration listing the cities where receptions were held, as well as the names of the WFU staff hosts who attended; click on the image to enlarge it.  Many thanks to all our hosts, all our new students and families, the current students who attended, and my colleagues who went to these receptions.

I’d say it’s been a pretty good summer.