I Am Sorry, Y’All

To everyone I scared yesterday with my [belated] April-foolery, my heartfelt apologies.  One of my many weaknesses is a desire to be clever, and April Fool’s Day is always a good time for that.  Some of you emailed me after you got through the whole hoax post and I have to say your messages were really moving and touching (I want to respond to them all but it might take me a few days).  It truly is an honor to be a part of your family’s Wake Forest experience – even if it is in a weird, virtual, digital way.  I’m a mom myself and I cannot imagine what it will be like when ’27 Hopeful goes off to college, so it is a privilege to help connect you to your students via the Daily Deac.

And for those who asked me: yes, I am really in a PhD program (Higher Education, hopeful grad date 2020).  Yes, twice a week to Greensboro stinks.  Yes, it is hard to balance home and work and school.  But I will also answer the question you did not ask: Yes, it is worth it.

Speaking of questions, thanks to all of you who filled out the form about what you want to see more and less of in the Daily Deac, and what questions you have.  Today I am going to take a stab at a few of them:

Q: What is the best way for students to find the best resource and counseling to help them decide on their future focus and help them work toward finding what they would like to do in the future?

A: I am a HUGE fan of the OPCD (Office of Personal and Career Development) for this.  They have an amazing set of resources, including assessments to help students know themselves (so their job search can be aligned with their interests and values), an explore majors section of their website, an explore careers section, career coaching, career classes (CNS 120 and 220 are online via summer school), and more.  I tell all my advisees they ought to spend 1-2 hours each month actively engaged with the OPCD – whether that is taking assessments, working with a career coach, going to events the OPCD sponsors, etc.

Q: What do professors find most exasperating about students and parents?  I don’t want to be an annoying parent and don’t want my student to irritate her profs!

A: I can’t speak for all faculty, but here are some of the things I have heard them say in the past: students who have not read the course syllabus (which is basically the contract for class) and instead email the professor to ask questions that the syllabus covers; students asking “how can I get a better grade in your class?” instead of being concerned with how well they are learning; students who miss scheduled appointments; students who ignore emails sent by the faculty member, or send emails that feel unprofessional (there is no “Dear Dr. X,” to open, no niceties, no closure, just a one line question; and students not taking responsibility for their actions.  I hope it goes without saying that plagiarism or academic dishonesty is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – sins a student can commit.  My opinion is that parents/families should never, ever, ever contact a professor about their student; that relationship has to be between the student and the faculty member.

Administrators can feel frustrated when parents are involved in situations their student should be handling: parents should not be the ones trying to find out how to accomplish X on campus and telling their student how to do it, or trying to develop their student’s schedule (or a 4 year plan of coursework); that should be the student’s job to do the legwork.  I’d also prefer it if parents didn’t use “we” in relation to their student’s experience, as in “we are having trouble registering for classes” or “we have been looking at X study abroad program” – I fear that takes some agency away from the students at a time when they need to be doing more things independently.

Q: Have you ever had any environmental type complaints about rolling the quad?

A: Yes.  Rolling the Quad is such a tradition at Wake that alumni like me generally don’t give it a second thought, but if you are new to Wake Forest (a new student, a new faculty member or administrator, a parent or family member), we do get some questions and complaints about rolling.  I know there are some who wish the tradition would go away (and be swapped with something greener); others cherish the community spirit a rolling creates.

Q: What is the ‘on time graduation in 4 years’ stats?

A: The most recent data I can find is from the classes graduating in 2005-11.  The 4 year graduation rate for first-time entering freshmen is has ranged from about 82-85%.  The 6-year rate is 88%.  Because I am just that kind of nerd, I went back to the old stats from my college years (’88-’92) and it looked like our 4-year graduation rate was from 68-75% at that time.

Q: How far in advance do you need to book reservations for events like graduation?

A: Many (if not most) hotels will not take reservations for next year’s Commencement until this year’s Commencement has taken place.  That said, you can look at the Commencement web site for future Commencement dates (scroll all the way to bottom left of the page) and can try to book now. For Family Weekend, my advice is to book as soon as the date is known – and in the event that Winston hotels are booked (as there are other colleges in town who might have their own Homecomings or Family Weekends), look at Greensboro or High Point hotels, as those are still within 30-45 minutes’ drive.

Q: Can you publish campus crime info so we feel informed of all that occurs and can learn from to protect our kids?

A: This is a question I get a lot: why don’t you talk about campus crime in the Daily Deac?  The main reason is because this is an opt-in service families subscribe to, and is meant to be more entertainment than an official news source.  If we have crime news, my stance is it should be available to all parents, not just those who are Daily Deac readers. Any campuswide email (crime related or not), gets published on the Family News section of the Parents and Families page.  In response to families’ interest, we have also created a system to subscribe to Wake Ready crime alerts; this functions much like the Daily Deac: you will receive an email at noon if a crime alert has been posted in the previous 24 hours.

In terms of protecting your students, I think talking to them about safe practices is very important. University Police compiled an excellent set of safety precautions.  As one who sits on the Crisis Management Team, I wish every student (and family member) would check out Wake Ready to become familiar with emergency terminology and planning.

This also seems like a good time to say that if a major emergency ever did happen, I would be deployed as part of the Crisis Management Team and would not be making updates to the Parents and Families page, the Daily Deac, or responding to parents@nullwfu.edu email.  In a true emergency, all communications would run centrally from the Wake Alert web site – and banner messages would appear at the top of Wake’s home page and the main Parents and Families page.

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus?

A: This is a tough one, because they are many.  The English Seminar room.  The back entrance to the Mainstage Theatre.  The balcony of Reynolda Hall facing the Commencement stage right after the ceremony ends, when the faculty form a kind of receiving line and hug their favorite students.  Anywhere Ed Wilson is.  And I got married in Wait Chapel, so of course that.

Q: Do you REALLY have has much fun doing this as it appears?

A:  ABSOLUTELY.

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