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Betsy Chapman

Happy Thanksgiving!

Like many of your students (I suspect), I am getting started a little early on the Thanksgiving holiday and am looking forward to some time off with family and friends.

Because it is the season of Thankfulness, I wanted to share a few of the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful to be able to write the Daily Deac for you every day.  It warms my heart tremendously when I get an email from one of you saying that I help connect you to your student’s experience, or that something I said resonated with you, or helped you or your Deac.  I wish I could meet all of our readers and thank you in person.  You enable me to get to do something I love.

I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know your sons and daughters.  I don’t get to meet nearly enough of them, but the ones I do are interesting, inspiring, passionate, committed.  Sometimes they are also lost, or scared, or need a sympathetic ear, and its an honor to help them in those times too.

I am grateful for our faculty, staff, and librarians – who I see give to your students in countless ways that you might never see.  Whether it is answering an email late at night, or making time for an extra appointment, or just offering a kind word, I see evidence of truly good, kind, people everywhere on campus.  And that makes this a great place to work.

I am grateful for a rolled Quad.  It means something good has happened, and we all get to celebrate it together.

I am grateful that when times are bad, when we are hurting, we circle the wagons and take care of each other.

I am grateful to work on a campus filled with beauty.  Beauty of the outdoors, beauty of the artwork, beauty of the architecture.

I am grateful for the diversity of people, talent, and life experiences on this campus.  I have learned things from people different from me that have impacted me in profound ways.

I am grateful we believe in Pro Humanitate.  May we all leave this world a little better than we found it.

I am grateful that every time I look at Wait Chapel, I can remember getting married there.

And I am grateful for my Wake Forest friends from college, now scattered all over the US, but who I love just as much as when we were here together.


So thank you, Deac families and readers, for the very important role you play in my Wake Forest experience.

I plan to be back to blogging on Tuesday, December 1st.  Until then, I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.

— by Betsy Chapman

Grade Expectations

Before the Thanksgiving break and the breakneck pace that always seems to accompany the end of the year, I wanted to devote a Daily Deac to Grade Expectations. (I’m an English major, pardon the pun).

Particularly for parents of first-year students and sophomores, but really for ALL parents, framing the issue of grades in a realistic way could be enormously helpful in alleviating stress and anxiety in your students.

I enlisted the input of a couple of experts from campus: Dr. Christy Buchanan, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Advising and Professor of Psychology, and Dr. James Raper, Director of the University Counseling Center.  Both the Office of Academic Advising (OAA) and the University Counseling Center (UCC) see students who have issues, pressures, or anxieties about their grades.  The UCC and OAA have vast experience in mentoring and counseling students around grades and other issues. (I’ll also put on my academic adviser hat and add a few bits too.)

So let’s talk about grades.  Dean Buchanan says this:

I cringe when I hear a parent state that they have expectations for their student to get a 4.0.”

It might be helpful here to point out how Wake Forest grades are defined.  College is not high school, and As here are different than As from your students’ high school pasts.  From the Undergraduate Bulletin:

“For most courses carrying undergraduate credit, there are twelve final grades: A (exceptionally high achievement), A-, B+, B (superior), B-, C+, C (satisfactory), C-, D+, D, D- (passing but unsatisfactory), and F (failure).”

Let that sink in just a moment.  A is exceptionally high achievement, B is superior, C is satisfactory.  A grade of C does not mean failure.

So if you (or your students) are using high school grades as your benchmark, please consider adjusting or letting go of your expectations.  Here’s why.  Not every student will be universally good at all subjects in college the way they were in high school.  There will be classes here that will be a struggle, just because the level of work and pace of work are higher.

Real life example: I was in a bio class at Wake that was nearly killing me.  I think my test grades were B, C, and D going into the final.  This was a class that stretched me to my limits.  I tried my best but I was just barely hanging on.  My final grade was the best I could do, and believe me I was grateful to pass.  But I worried about my parents’ reaction.

I worried then, and my sense is many of our students are worried now.  So many students feel pressure – real or imagined – to replicate their high school grades, and this can add a tremendous weight onto their shoulders.  Striving for straight As (or even As and Bs) can come at a price – and to get the grade, you might have to give up a lot of less tangible, but equally important things, in the process.  Dean Buchanan says it well:

“It’s much more helpful for parents to expect their students to ‘do their best’ in class while also striving for a healthy and well-balanced life that includes sleep, exercise, and healthy involvement with friends and extracurricular activities.

Students do not thrive when they study all the time, and they do not thrive when they feel pressured to get higher grades than those that naturally result from a strong effort in the context of a balanced lifestyle.   Our students get good jobs and get into graduate programs with a range of GPAs.

For as long as I have been advising, I have seen students in my office who are stressed to the limit over grades.  Some put all their eggs in the “study, study, study” basket, even when that is not making them happy or productive.  That unhappiness can bleed over into other things – not sleeping well, lack of enjoyment in other parts of life, not going to campus activities (or even Student Health or the University Counseling Center because “I don’t have time – I have to study!”) – all because they think they HAVE to get an A on a particular test.

Is getting that A or working yourself to death striving for a GPA worth your physical or mental wellbeing?

Students thrive best when they find a niche of people on campus – whether in an extracurricular activity, going to on-campus sporting events or lectures, volunteering, etc.  If your student is single-mindedly in pursuit of grades, he or she might not be finding a friend group, having new experiences, and/or taking advantage of all our resources.  Becoming well rounded and learning healthy balance is critical – and it is very hard to find balance if you feel you can’t do anything but study.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that grades are unimportant.  Of course they are.  But so is balance.

So when should you be concerned about grades?  Dean Buchanan puts it this way:

“Students need a 2.0 overall and in their major to graduate, so clearly it’s good to expect that over time. In our office, we are concerned if students are getting one or more Ds or Fs.  Parents might also legitimately be concerned if a student is consistently getting Cs across all or most classes, although exploring the reason for this is important. 

If parents are concerned that their student is not working to his/her potential, I urge them first to express caring concern.  Ask if everything is ok.  Ask if there is something going on that’s keeping the student from doing his/her best.  Asking with caring concern might help the student open up about struggles – rather than simply stressing students out and intimating they are not pleasing their parents or living up to parents’ expectations.

Urge the student himself/herself to seek out help from professors, from the Office of Academic Advising (OAA), from the Learning Assistance Center (LAC), or other academic resources.   In general, expressing caring concern is likely to be more productive than is expressing disappointment in or expectations for a specific GPA.”

As an academic adviser, I would make one addition to the Dean Buchanan’s message: for first-semester freshmen, they are still very much learning the ‘new normal’ of college level work, which is a lot harder than high school.  It is not unusual to see lower grades that you were used to seeing on your student’s high school report card.  I see a lot more Bs and Cs on midterm reports – even some Ds.  My experience has been that the first semester grades are typically the worst, and will go up in time once students understand the expectations and get the swing of time management.

I don’t treat my advisees’ Cs or Ds as a reason to panic or threaten, I treat those as an opportunity to explore what is going on, and to refer students to some of the resources on campus like the OAA or the LAC.  Please consider doing that as well.

How does the grade situation impact students emotionally?  Dr. James Raper and his staff of counselors see a lot of students each year with stress, anxiety, or concern about grades.  Some thoughts from Dr. Raper:

“I think it is certainly important to work towards good grades in college.  What is interesting about many college students, however, is that they tend to be supremely critical of themselves and their work while also believing that those around them are having an easy time of it (as they say: “winning at life”). 

The intensity of self-criticism, and the anxiety cycle with which it is connected, frequently causes students not to reach their potential.  I will often describe it to the students with whom I work as “white knuckling” their approach to academic work. 

We – along with the Learning Assistance Center and the Office of Academic Advising – typically advise students to take a more balanced approach to their studies.  Take breaks intentionally to engage in healthy self-care.  This is different from procrastinating; it is refreshing yourself and recharging yourself so you can be better able to approach the work with a good mindset.

We also challenge students’ thinking about what they “have” to make grade wise.  We ask them to consider “what if I ‘only’ got a B or a C?”  What would really happen in my life?  Does it really have bad/irreversible/critical consequences? 

The point of that exercise is not to encourage a student to have a goal of a B or a C.  The intent is to challenge the unrealistic and damaging perfectionism that many students have, and which actually hinders the student’s best work. 

If students can loosen their grip on their academic selves, what they often find is that their best self can come through.”

Why are we telling you all this now?  You’re about to have your Deacs home – most likely for Thanksgiving, almost certainly for Winter Break – and you are going to have a lot of time with them.  Many of them will dread the grade questioning they think you will spring on them.  Over the years I have heard students’ express that they fear parental anger, disappointment, punishment, or withholding of affection (or tuition) because of grades.  I’d argue that what your students need in a discussion of grades is your understanding and empathy.

So Deac families, here is how you can really help your students.

Focus less on the letter grade and more on the effort.

Think about using care and concern in your questioning.

Ask your Deac if getting a B or C in that one class is really going to determine that path for the rest of their life.

Share a time when you got a bad grade and how you recovered.

Help them see your love is not directly proportional to their GPA (or their major, or intended career, etc.)

Help them put grades into proper perspective.

Tell them you don’t expect them to be perfect – and they shouldn’t expect that of themselves.

If you can help take the stress (real or imagined) off your students, it might free them up to be able to work with a clear mind and less anxiety about what your reaction will be if they get a particular grade or GPA.

Imagine what a great gift that would be to your students.  And how much happier a household you might have during the holidays.

— by Betsy Chapman

Cold But Triumphant Sunday

I so hope your Deacs made the chilly trek to Spry Stadium yesterday afternoon to watch our #1 ranked men’s soccer team take on UNC-Charlotte.  It was a cold and windy day, so dressing warm was a must.

Looked to be a huge crowd, too.  I’ve never had to wait so long tob buy tickets for a game before.  Charlotte fans showed up in decent numbers, but the home field fan advantage was definitely ours.

For most of the first half, there was a lot of action but no scoring.  There were a couple of yellow cards on UNC-Charlotte, and at times it looked more like a wrestling match, the guys were getting physical.  We had a few very promising shots that went just wide, or their goalie had a great save.  If we’d thought that we’d come in and crush their team, we were wrong.  They had good defense.

The 0-0 score went almost to the end of the game.  It was within the last 10 minutes that our very own Jon Bakero made a brilliant goal and the roar that came from Spry’s Army could have been heard from a great distance.  Our guys jumped up onto the wall of Walt Chyzowych alumni hill and hooped and hollered.  Jon Bakero took off his shirt, and underneath it had a shirt on that said SIEMPRE MI [something else, the pic doesn’t capture it].  He got a yellow card for the shirt thing, but from a sheer sense of excitement and rallying the crowd, it was totally worth it.  Pic courtesy of the Wjon bakaroake Forest Sports Facebook page.

UNC-Charlotte tried to even it up but they just couldn’t make it.  At the end, after shaking hands with the other team, our Deacs did their usual loop around the hill, then to the stands, to high five everyone who wanted to lean down over the rail to do it.  God bless our kids, they are so polite.  Here they are, just won a big game, #1 seeds in the country, and easily a third of them would speak to you as they hive fived saying something like “thanks for coming out, guys” or “thanks for being here.”

Classy.  Classy.  Classy.

Looks like our Deacs will take on Indiana at Spry Stadium this coming Sunday 11/29 at 1 pm.  If you live nearby, or if your Deac isn’t coming home for Thanksgiving, this might be the best antidote to the tryptophan coma.


— by Betsy Chapman


Photo Friday

In the interest of full disclosure, today I am at a field trip with my Class of ’27 Deac, so I took the liberty of pre-posting this.

Happy Friday, Deac families!  Hope you are partaking in Black and Gold Friday – wear your best black and gold clothes and be a part of WFU from your hometown.

Wednesday was a really interesting weather day on campus – gray and cloudy and a nice wind, but not too cold – so I took a meandering walk through one of the student parking lots and was checking out what kinds of bumper stickers and magnets were on students’ cars.  To me, it’s always interesting to see what people feel strongly enough about that they want to stick it to their cars.  I took some pics as I went.

Below is just a tiny sliver of the cars I was looking at, but I saw sports bumper stickers, Wake ones, religious organizations or representations, political candidates, state pride, and more.

11 20 15 bumper sticker 9 11 20 15 bumper sticker 3 11 20 15 bumper sticker 2 11 20 15 bumper sticker 8 11 20 15 bumper sticker 7 11 20 15 bumper sticker 1 11 20 15 bumper sticker 6 11 20 15 bumper sticker 5 11 20 15 bumper sticker 4

Couple other quick reminders:  Friday is always a good day to call your Deacs, and because some of them seem a bit stressy about finishing up before Thanksgiving, it might be a great time to send a Deacon greeting.

— by Betsy Chapman



Some miscellaneous news and observations for you today:

The Benson Center has been decorated for the holidays.  There is a great big Christmas tree in the lobby and garland on the railings.  There is a Hanukkah display in the alcove with a Menorah.  I was in a hurry so I didn’t take pictures, but trust me when I say it looks festive and cheerful.

Today is Pitsgiving – so your Deacs can eat some Thanksgiving fare today.  I overheard a conversation between students as I was walking back from my meeting in Benson.  One of them was saying they were going to go through the various stations four times.  Pitsgiving is a charmingly big deal to some of our students – lots and lots of traffic.  May they all have full bellies and turkey-induced-drowsiness later today.  A colleague of mine just returned from Pitsgiving and said the food was quite good.  It’s on all day, I believe, so if your Deac missed it at lunch, go back at dinner.

Thinking about the holidays, a safety note to be aware of.  If you have a senior who lives off campus, particularly in the residential houses near campus, urge your student to pay attention to these safety tips and garbage collection schedule from Residence Life and Housing.  And if your student has valuables – whether jewelry, small electronics, computers, etc., he or she should consider taking them home.

Also, if your student is staying on campus during Thanksgiving, note that Student Health is closed, but they have a nurse on call as well as a list of resources in case your students need it.

We’ve gotten several questions about when is Move-In next fall (for new freshmen as well as upperclassmen students), when is Family Weekend, etc.  The Academic Calendar for Fall 2016 has not been released yet, so we don’t know about Move-In.  Family Weekend can’t be decided until we know the football schedule – which won’t likely be until January if past years hold true.  As soon as we know those dates, we will post them on the Parents’ Page and the Daily Deac.  Hang tight until then.

A final bit of news:  Ta-Nehisi spoke in Wait Chapel this Tuesday night, and he wins the National Book Award on Wednesday night.  Coincidence? 😉

— by Betsy Chapman



Deacs Abroad Newsletter

This message came to my inbox yesterday from our Center for Global Programs and Studies.  There are opportunities to apply to our WFU Houses in London, Venice, and Vienna – and some reflections from students currently abroad.

Study abroad is something I always encourage my advisees (and any other students I have the chance to meet with) to consider.  Going to another country for a semester expands your mind exponentially and you learn things about yourself, about other cultures, and you make memories that last a lifetime.  Even if you are a P’19 of a first-year student, it is not too soon to encourage your son or daughter to consider whether an abroad experience is something to work towards and plan for.

Read some of the reflections from students below and see their experience in their own words.  It makes me miss my own days in the WFU Dijon program.

— by Betsy Chapman


Interested in spending summer or fall 2016 abroad?  Make your appointment today!
Although application deadlines for most programs are not until after winter break, it is in your best interest to apply for study abroad early!  If you are interested in going abroad this summer or next fall, stop by 116 Reynolda Hall or call 336.758.5938 to schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor today.


Study Abroad Fall 2016 with WFU in Dijon

Dijon, France
Professor Veronique McNelly, French
Subjects Offered: FRH & ART
4 semesters of French language study or equivalent required.


WFU Houses are still taking applications for Fall 2016

WFU LONDON: WORRELL HOUSE – Professor Omaar Hena, English

WFU VENICE: CASA ARTOM – Professor Remi Lanzoni, Film & Interdisciplinary Studies

WFU VIENNA: FLOW HOUSE – Professor Tina Boyer, German

Spending Spring 2016 Abroad?


The optional course takes place during your semester abroad for 1 credit P/F. This course helps you maximize immersion and exposure to different aspects of the host culture.  A mixture of interactive activities and reflections on your experiences, it is designed to help you develop a deeper understanding of the culture in which you are living. Email Andrew Smith to enroll.


Meet the WFU Global Abroad Ambassadors

Want to know what life is like as a student abroad? Speak to one of our Global Abroad Ambassadors. Ambassadors have studied abroad on WFU-approved programs. For a full list of Ambassadors click here.



 Florence, Italy (Syracuse U) | PRE-MED, CHM, & SOC

 Why did you go abroad?
I decided to go abroad for many reasons. First and foremost was that I had always wanted to get to Italy, and I saw this as a perfect opportunity. I’m going to be taking classes anyway, so why not take them abroad? I could use this to multitask my education and learn not only what I was getting from lectures, but also a whole different kind of education, one of culture and an increase in global awareness and worldview.  

Favorite Memory
My roommate and I had sat through a couple of really awkward, near silent dinners with our host mom when we decided something needed to be done. So before the usual call of “Ragazze, pronto,” we came up with a list of conversation topics, as well as a plan to ask her if she wanted to play cards with us after dinner (because we had noticed her playing solitaire after dinner). The conversations went extremely well, and afterwards we taught her how to play Rummy, and after a couple of games, she was crushing us both. 

Advice for Deacs Abroad
Don’t be afraid. There are a lot of mistakes to be made, and there are a lot of things that you’ll do wrong, but just remember that every single thing you do is a learning experience and every moment is going to be worth it. So don’t sit inside talking to your friends from back home, because you know that there’s a small window of time in which to talk to them due to the time difference. They’ll still be there when you get home. You won’t have any stories to tell them if you don’t go out and make memories.  


Dijon, France (WFU) | FRH & SOC

What was the funniest or biggest mistake that you made abroad?
It was just before I left. As I was packing my suitcase, my host dad asked me “Ça pèse combien?” (how much does it weigh?) but I heard “Tu pèse combien?” (how much do YOU weigh?). Thinking the question odd but not wanting to appear rude by not answering, I told him. My host dad cried “Mais c’est enorme!” (but that’s ENORMOUS!) and “Tu ne pourras pas voler!” (you won’t be able to fly!). It was then that I realized he must have originally meant the suitcase, and with mild embarrassment we finally cleared up the misunderstanding.

Favorite Place in Dijon
I was very partial to the street I lived on, Rue de Godrans. It had several cute shops, a restaurant that I frequented, and a bakery that sold very nice desserts. My friends and I would often go there for an afternoon snack of macarons (we decided we would try to eat 1000 of them between the four of us over the course of the semester; we only managed maybe a fourth of that) which we ate at a park also on Rue de Godrans. 

Favorite Food
My host mom used to make this amazing dish that my roommate and I considered the Italian version of scalloped potatoes. It was potatoes, cheese, béchamel, and speck (a kind of Italian bacon) layered together and baked. It was the ultimate comfort food. 

Men’s Soccer Is #1

The NCAA Tournament bracket came out for men’s soccer – and we are seeded #1.  Our Deacs will play this Sunday at Spry Stadium at 1 pm; they will face the winner of the Radford-Charlotte game on Thursday.  There’s a nice video with reaction to the #1 seeding and remarks from Coach Muuss.

One of the things he talked about was how vital our community is to this team, and how much our support means to the players and the coaches.  So if your Deac has not yet been to a soccer game, I hope he/she considers attending this one.  Spry Stadium is a great venue, and there is something that feels so collegiate and exciting to sit out in the chilly fall air and cheer on the Deacs.  Our men’s soccer team is such fun to watch – fast as lightning and really in sync with each other.  They move the ball with what looks like effortless skill and grace.  I know it is a ton of effort, but our Deacs make it look easy.

The best part is at the end when the Deacs win:  our players jump up to greet the fans that sit on the hill between Polo Road and the stadium, and then the guys run the length of the stands and high five anyone who sticks their hands down through the railings.  I can tell you that my Class of ’27 soccer-loving son thinks there is nothing cooler than being able to high five our guys. [I might think so, too :)]

Go Deacs!

— by Betsy Chapman



Today Is About Community

I suspect like many of you, I was shocked and horrified to see the events unfolding in Paris on Friday afternoon.  I worried for the French people (I had studied abroad in France while at WFU), but also for our study abroad students – those in France and in other countries, as there are a lot of weekend trips by WFU students to see each other.

Our students’ welfare was at the top of everyone’s minds here.  Our crisis management group got together on Friday evening and Saturday morning to make sure we communicated with campus about the status of the situation (see here  and here) and offered support to anyone who needed it.  Kudos to our Global Programs and Studies office for their comprehensive check ins and communication with students abroad so we could ensure we knew they were safe and accounted for.

11 17 15 5Our Chaplain’s office organized a Steps Towards Peace – a Living Vigil today.  I did this after lunch.  You begin in front of Reynolda Hall, and members of the Chaplain’s office staff ask you to take a slow and contemplative lap around the Quad – either to pray, or to meditate, or to send positive thoughts, or just to think peaceful things.  After you make the lap and return to the front of Reynolda, you can take a piece of cloth and tie it on the prayer pole.  As you can see, there were already a good many participants.  This will run through 8 pm tonight.  This is a way our community can come together and think, pray, grieve, and respond as a community.  I highly recommend it to your students.

So that is a noble example of community on campus.  To take the idea of community – or communal actions – down to a less-serious level, today I also went to the Pit with a couple of friends and colleagues.  Too often we get busy, but sometimes it is nice to sit and eat with friends and experience community that way.

To give you an idea of some of the Pit’s offerings today, I have taken some pictures below.  Caveat that 1) I am not a professional photographer, and 2) the interior of the cafeteria made these look a bit dark.  I can attest to the fact that the food was tasty.  Here’s some of the things I saw on offer:

11 17 15 7 11 17 15 6A great big salad bar with romaine and spinach, as well as some of the expected salad toppings – shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, regular peas, onions.  You get the idea.  There was also several different options for cut fresh fruit – good looking honeydew melon, pineapple (which I didn’t have but my colleague did and said it was good), fruit cocktail.

There’s also a couple of spots in the Pit where you can get whole fruit – oranges, bananas, apples, etc.  We took a look at the whole fruit too and it all looked pretty good.  I didn’t have an orange today but I can attest to past oranges, which have been sweet and delicious.

The grill line and the homestyle foods line got a lot of takers while we were there.  The grill line is what you’d expect – burgers and such.  The homestyle line had a couple of different types of comfort food – tater tots among them, and those seemed to be going fast.

11 17 15 1 11 17 15 2The Mongolian Grill had noodles and stir fried vegetables with chicken or beef, which looked really good.  There is an allergy-free zone that had really good roast turkey (which I took to cut up on my salad and give it some protein), very fresh looking cooked carrots, sauteed spinich (or some greens), and baked sweet potatoes.

11 17 15 3Right next to that was the Italian area, which boasted a couple of kinds of pizza.  I have to confess, the veggie pizza looked SO good, but I am trying to watch my waistline so I skipped it in favor of a custom-made omelet.  You can choose all your toppings – lots of different diced veggies, as well as diced meats and cheeses, and it is cooked as you stand there.

11 17 15 4There is also a dessert station.  While I was making my loop taking pictures, there were cookies and cupcakes and muffins.  As I was leaving, there was a big fresh tray of brownies that was added to the offerings.  There was also a giant sheet cake in the middle of the various food lines, which I just had to sample.  As something of a cake glutton, I can tell you that they always get their sheet cakes right.  Delish.

My salad and omelet were both really light and hit the spot.  My colleagues had salads, as well as hummus and chips, maybe one thing more each.  Suffice to say, all three of us had a really satisfying meal.  I know from time to time students may grump about not liking the food, but I’m a pretty picky girl and I can always find something I like there.

I highly recommend both the lap in the Steps for Peace, and in taking some time in the Pit to be present with friends and share a meal.  In times of trouble, that sort of communal activity can really help.

— by Betsy Chapman



It’s a sunny Friday – was cold in the morning but now the sun is out and it feels pretty good to let it warm you.  Even when the weather gets cold, we have some terrific looking flowerbeds on campus.  The flowers and greenery near the entrance to Farrell Hall look fantastic.

Students finished registering for class lastnight.  Typically this is a high stress time for students, particularly freshmen.  The good news is that because they are freshmen, they still have a lot of basic and divisional requirements they need to take.  So if during registration your Deac wanted to take art or English or bio and the section they wanted is full, they can choose different options.  They also can take electives, or take a second course in their intended major if they know it.  There will be plenty of time to finish their requirements, so they can take something fun for fun’s sake.

I did a quick peek at course availability, and while some are full, there are seats still available in some other courses freshmen and sophomores typically take.  That said, it might be an 8 or 9 am class, or maybe not the professor they first hoped to take – but there are options.  Any student having trouble with their schedule can work with an academic counselor in the Office of Academic Advising to get some extra help, particularly if they are under 12 credit hours.

A word about professorial reputation.  I wish students didn’t rely on other people’s opinions about a class, because each of us learns in different ways, and we all have different likes and dislikes (some like lecture, some like group work, some like people with a dry sense of humor – or dislike them).  So to base your idea of whether to take a class with a particular person based on the hive mind might not be the best strategy.  A student might have a bunch of friends with different learning styles and preferences who say “take Dr. X” or “don’t take Dr. Y” – when in fact Dr. X or Y might be someone that student could really click with.

True story: when I was an undergrad, I somehow missed the memo about ‘don’t take Dr. X for intro psych.’  I signed up because it was a class I wanted and was the only section with available seats.  And then I heard from all sorts of people ‘oh, you’re not in Dr. X’s class, are you?  Everyone flunks his class, he’s so hard!’ and I was panicking.  Until I got to the first class and realized he was a really nice guy.  He took pictures of us our first day so he could learn everyone’s names, and he was a good lecturer.  His tests were hard, but I learned a lot, and I liked it.  And I NEVER would taken his class if I had listened to the herd.  So if your Deac is stressing about a particular professor – please urge him or her to give that person a chance.

Enough about that.  Looking ahead to next week, we have our own version of Thanksgiving, affectionately referred to as Pitsgiving.  The annual Pitsgiving Feast will be held next Thursday, November 19.  Students can get turkey, stuffing, and some of the traditional dishes for lunch or dinner. The cost is $11 and payments are accepted at the door to the Pit.  The beauty of Pitsgiving is that it is akin to the new trend of Friendsgiving, where you have your closest friends (who are like family to you) to a potluck dinner before you celebrate the real one with your true family.  So they can have Pitsgiving with the people they like here, and then come home to you a week later.

Call your Deacs today and tell them you love them!

— by Betsy Chapman

Five Senses of Farrell

I was out yesterday for Veteran’s Day, but belated thank you to all of those in the larger Deac family who have served or are serving our country, and especially to our ROTC alumni.

On today’s menu: the Five Senses of Farrell, as seen between 9:30-10:30 am today.

I see…

– About 3/4 of the tables and sofa groups are spoken for.  Because I am just that kind of a nerd, I was counting the distribution of people.  11 tables/seating groups had just one person seated; 4 tables had 2 people each; 2 tables had 3 people each; 3 tables had a group of 4; 1 table was a group of 5.

– Most of the tables had students clearly working – open laptops, open books, writing in notebooks.  There were a few with people eating breakfast.

– Attire erred on the side of ‘student’ (read: jeans and t-shirts) vs. professional dress.  You could spot the couple of MA in Management students who were in bow ties and jackets or nice dresses.

– What appeared to be a class of some sort taking place just outside by the fire pit.  There was a woman who I assume is a professor who seemed to be talking to some of the students at tables inside and moving them outside.  She had papers in her hand and looked to be leading a discussion.  It looked like a fun class anyway.

– One male student walking through the center of the Farrell Living Room reading what looked to be a paper or a homework.  My guess is this was a final read before turning it in.

– The shimmering of the air that comes from the fire pit.  You know how you can see heat as it rolls off a fire in waves?  That’s what I saw through the window.

– In the distance, students walking in and out of Magnolia, Dogwood, or the North Dining Hall.  From my seat I have a clear view all the way out the window wall.

– One Einstein’s staff member coming out to say hello to  a table of students.  Must be regulars.


I hear…

– The crinkly paper that bagels are wrapped in at Einsteins and the bags they are stored in.  This sound is repeated over and over while I am there.

– Doors opening and closing.

– High heels across the floor making a clip clop sound.

– A few coughs [it is that time of year].

– Not a lot of sound.  It’s pretty quiet – either because students aren’t quite awake, or because they are being deferential to those studying.  There is a group of 4 students at a table pretty near me and all I can hear is indistinct talking.

– The scooting of wooden chairs scraping across the floor as people sit down or get up to leave.

– Calling out of people’s names as their Einsteins orders are ready.  And the beep of the microwave.

– A few snippets of conversation as students pass directly by me.  “Change of plans…” – “See you later, buddy” – “It’s just like keeping up with class…

– The zipping of backpacks.


I smell…

– Toasted bagels.  (Heavenly and comforting).

– Coffee.

– The odd whiff of hazelnut coffee when someone walks by me.


I feel…

– The cool, smooth, tabletop.

– Not much more than that.  I am far enough away from the doors that I don’t feel any cool breeze as they open and close.


I taste…

– An absolutely scrumptious pumpkin bagel.  For real, if you have Einstein’s Bagels near you and you haven’t tried a pumpkin bagel, it is a delightful combo of sweet and savory at once.


So there’s your Five Senses, Deac families.  Whenever I do these, I like to imagine I am seeing all your kids and can bring you a happy report that they all look good and they are working hard as well as having a few laughs with friends.

— by Betsy Chapman