Black and Gold Friday

Happy Black and Gold Friday, Deac families.  If you are sporting WFU colors or official WFU apparel where you are, you get a gold star for the day!  Please join us in wearing WFU colors every Friday and maybe it will help you feel here in spirit.

Lots of things to mention today.

– First: the weather.  It is GLORIOUS.  At the start of the workday here (8:30 am) it was cool and delightful.  Sunny, but not hot.  It was the kind of day to sit outside and enjoy just how beautiful it was – and I saw some colleages and students doing just that.

– The first full week of class is coming to a close.  I spent the morning in a first-year residence hall.  The Faculty Fellows (faculty who commit to spend some time each week in a freshman residence hall to get to know students, offer programming etc.) of this particular hall had a table of free breakfasty foods and drinks set up in the lobby, and they invited academic advisers for those residents to join.  So we had a merry band of folks who would greet the students as they came and went, encouraged them to grab a donut or some coffee or fruit (bananas were a huge hit!)  There were a lot of students who were surprised and delighted to find free food, and I will say that the students were all incredibly polite.  Families, you raised these early risers well!

– From conversations I had (or overheard) in the res hall, some of our first-years are a bit shell shocked at the amount of work they have.  Or they are worried that everyone else in their new class had AP/IB/Honors level [insert class here] and they did not and are worried about falling behind.  And/or they are looking at their hallmates and classmates and thinking ‘holy mackerel, they all seem smarter than I am.  I don’t belong here.’  Deep breaths, parents.  This. Happens. Every. Year.   Our newest students are thrown into a new environment and they are not feeling secure yet – and I was the same way when I was here.  So if you are hearing that, tell them it is normal to be nervous in new situations.  And rather than carry around that panic and worry yourself, go back to our tried and true Stop, Drop, and Roll method.  Don’t give them the answer or fix their issue – but ask them questions that help them do it themselves.  ‘Gosh honey, during Orientation did anyone talk about academic resources to help you?  Where might you look to find them?  Which people on campus have you talked to?’ etc.

– I’ll wager that many of our Deacs are going to want to let off some steam this weekend.  The first several weeks of school can be times of experimentation and excess for all classes, but can be especially so among our first-year students.  There is a good reference online, What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking, that provides some tips for freshmen parents; look for Parents of a College Freshmen – Staying Involved on page 5.  It’s worth a read – and not just for the P’19s out there.  P’16s-18s still want to be engaging with your students about alcohol and reducing high risk behaviors.

– Related to the above, a frequent Friday tip from the Daily Deac is to contact your students sometime today.  Research by Meg Small at Penn State showed parental communication on weekends (30 minutes or more of general conversations not specifically related to substance use) decreased the high risk use of alcohol on those weekends.  More detail here – but this is a good practice.  That subtle reminder of home, family love and expectations, etc. might be the thing that helps temper behavior.

– And let’s close today on a high note.  Walking along the south part of campus, our terrific student organization DoRAK (Do Random Acts of Kindness) had chalked some great positive messages on the sidewalks.  These were things like “You’re going to do well!”  “You are beautiful just as you are!” etc.  Rock on, DoRAK!  Everyone needs a boost sometimes, and your chalk might have made someone’s day.  I’ll add a couple things in that vein below that I particularly like from emilymcdowell.com.

Have a great weekend, Deac families!

— by Betsy Chapman

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