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.

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