The Worry Letter, and the Advice Letter

Happy Monday, Deac families!  I am an enormous fan of the lost art of letter writing.  Many moons ago in 2013, we ran a Daily Deac called “The Worry Letter,” which was one of the blogs on which I got the most feedback from readers.  The idea was to write your student a letter talking about what to worry about – and what not to (because heaven knows, they worry about a lot of things at this age.)

I also recently asked you for advice to give new parents in the Class of 2020, as admissions acceptance letters have (I believe) been mailed.  While I want to compile your advice to new families on a variety of topics (academics, social, etc.), one of our Daily Deac readers sent a copy of a letter he sent his Deac son before starting his freshman year.  It’s a great letter, and he gave me permission to reprint it.

Whether you are an incomng freshman parent or the parent of a senior, it might be a lovely gesture to write your student this kind of letter.  Though this one was meant for the start of school, you could do a reflection at the end of the year, talking about how your student has grown.

Think about it.  This might be something they would cherish forever.  And many thanks to my letter-writing Deac Dad for sharing this.

— by Betsy Chapman

Dear [Son],

I think if we did not send you the list below you would naturally do all of these things anyway because that is the way you have behaved throughout your life to date. But we are parents sending you off to live independently for the next four years so here goes anyway:

1.) Take care of yourself. This means: get plenty of rest (sleep) and exercise, eat properly, don’t overconsume alcohol and follow a sensible and sustainable schedule of work, play and rest.

2.) Form good work habits early. Stay current with your studying and assignments so you don’t fall behind and create avoidable stress or put yourself in a hole academically. Find a good place to study, probably not your dorm room. There will be many temptations to do social things and put off your work but make sure you have your priorities in order. Get your work done before you play. Use the writing center to proof your papers before you turn them in and use tutors if you need help beyond seeing your professors during their office hours.

3.) Stress is a normal part of life and life at Wake might be stressful at times. If you are ever feeling too stressed out, call us – plus you can always seek guidance from any of the resources in place for that purpose on campus. Your parents care about your well-being and your university does too.

4.) Do your best work and don’t cut corners. Achieve whatever grades you earn with integrity. If you do this we will be completely satisfied and proud. Don’t sacrifice honesty for a better grade even if you see some others around you doing it.

5.) Be inquisitive. Look around and get involved in some extra-curriculars that are fun and new to try them out. If you discover you don’t like them, move on. Also, if you seek to join a group or organization that has discretionary selection criteria and you are not accepted, be OK with it and move on. There are many pathways to success and happiness.

6.) Be a good friend. Watch out for your friends and intervene with them or call upon the various professional help resources at Wake if you see them going off track.

7.) Be aware and make your choices intentionally. If you find yourself in a situation that is not right, then walk away.

8.) Treat the women you meet and date with chivalry and respect. The stakes are high here and you always want to be a gentleman.

9.) Carve out some time to reflect periodically. Be in a quiet place and ask yourself…. “Am I on the path I want to be on? Should I change direction? Go faster or slow down?” Periodic self-examination will help ensure that your decisions are intentional and you are spending your time productively toward your goals.

10.) Have fun and know that we are always here for you. This is your rock. We are proud of you and love you. You have worked hard to put yourself in a wonderful position to thrive at Wake and enjoy the experience. Make the most of your four years.

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