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Betsy Chapman

Planning Travel, Particularly Airline Tickets

Before I begin, today is the second to last day of our fiscal year.  If you have not made a gift to the Wake Forest Fund, please do so today (or by end of day tomorrow).  No gift is too big or too small – it’s your participation that counts.  Please help us reach our goal!

Now to business.  Several P’20 families have called or emailed lately with questions about travel home for breaks.  Many have been looking online at the academic calendar and trying to make plane reservations for their students at Thanksgiving or for Winter Break.

It is wonderful for families to be thinking ahead, and even more wonderful that you are finding resources online on your own!   However, please don’t make any airline arrangements yet – and here is why:

Before you make any plane reservations for your student, your student must consult the syllabus for each of his/her classes and discuss the class/exam schedule with the professor.  Students won’t get their syllabus until the first day of classes most likely.

While families can use the academic calendar as a general guideline of when school is out of session, some professors will schedule exams or assignments on the last day of class before break, and some professors have attendance requirements that only allow a certain number of missed classes, and your student is responsible for knowing the specific requirements for his/her classes.  Also, your student must be sure of his/her final exam schedule.  Exam schedules will be posted on theRegistrar’s web site when they are finalized.  NOTE:  for families of young women who plan to go through sorority recruitment in January, please note that their arrival on campus is typically several days before the rest of campus; the Fraternity and Sorority Life web site will have the recruitment schedule later this summer or early fall.

If you must buy airline tickets now, make sure you have the ability to change them, but the better part of prudence (as my P’92 is fond of saying), is to wait until your Deac gets his/her syllabus and can see what the hard and fast dates are.

— by Betsy Chapman



Live Safe App and Updates from University Police

I continue road-warrior-ing on the West Coast this week.  So a bit of news from campus.

University Police was recognized for a couple of major commendations at the annual International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) conference:

6 28 16 reginaSgt. Lesia Finney received the IACLEA Community Policing Award, and Chief Regina Lawson received the Live Safe Award at the IACLEA conference for Community Connections.  Congratulations to both of them!

6 28 16 LesiaSgt. Finney also wanted me to pass along information about Live Safe, a campus safety app that students can use – and may be of interest to families too.  Live Safe App info for parents

— by Betsy Chapman




Open Windows!

Happy Monday to you, Deac families!  I am going to be on the road for some New Student Receptions in CA this week, so will be pre-posting a few things.

I know I keep talking about the new gym, but the transformation in process is so fascinating.  Today when I walked by, I saw they have most of the windows from the bricked-in arches opened up.  Even still mid-construction, this makes a huge difference.  My early prediction is that your students are going to love this new look when it is ready!

6 27 16 gym 3 6 27 16 gym 1

— by Betsy Chapman

Black and Gold Friday

Happy Black and Gold Friday to you, Deac families!  Hope you are wearing WFU apparel, or black and gold, to show your school spirit wherever you live.

A couple great stories to end the week on a high note:

There is a wonderful story about our student Lins Barwick, who was involved in the shooting incident off campus a couple of weeks ago.  Band of Brothers talks about Lins and his fraternity brothers’ support.  I don’t know Lins personally, but this article certainly makes an impression of what a fine young man he is, and how well-regarded he is among his peers.  We all wish him a speedy and full recovery.

Throughout the summer I have been showing you some pictures of the construction on campus.  The real push behind the construction is to make our campus the premier residential collegiate experience for our students.  Our News Service wrote a wonderful piece on the enhancements to the residential experience, and it has a lot of great pictures and stats.  Between the renovations to the Quad residence halls (which will continue in the coming summers until they have all been updated), to the addition of the Sutton Center portion of Reynolds Gym (which is really spectacular), to the new residence hall, and the work that is being done on the old portion of Reynolds Gym, our campus is going to be better than ever.

I am going to pull a couple of pics from the article and paste below because I don’t want you to miss them, but you really should read the whole thing [available here].

— by Betsy Chapman

Here is a look at all the construction taking place right now.

6 24 16 construction map






Here is an image of what the renovated old portion of Reynolds Gym will look like when finished.

6 24 16 new gym







And because I am a giant nerd-wonk for these sorts of infographics, this is just plain fun 🙂

6 24 16 facts


Pics of the Day

Here’s a few shots from our master photographer, Ken Bennett.  You get a peek at the new residence hall under construction (and set to open, I believe, in January ’17).  Also a look at the renovations of Poteat Hall, the Bailey Park area downtown (which your Deacs are going to love going to for concerts and other things).  Finally I am throwing in an arty shot of the Tribble-Library-Benson area, just because it’s cool.


— by Betsy Chapman
The Blue Ridge Music Center hosts a free bluegrass concert at Bailey Park in downtown Winston-Salem on Friday, June 3, 2016. Wake Forest Innovation Quarter is in the background.

The Blue Ridge Music Center hosts a free bluegrass concert at Bailey Park in downtown Winston-Salem. Wake Forest Innovation Quarter is in the background.

The Z. Smith Reynolds Library is reflected in a puddle on the campus of Wake Forest University on Friday, June 3, 2016.

The Z. Smith Reynolds Library is reflected in a puddle.

Construction of the new first year residence hall on the Wake Forest campus continues on Thursday, June 9, 2016.

Construction of the new first year residence hall on the Wake Forest campus continues.

Construction continues on phase one of the renovation of Poteat Residence Hall on the campus of Wake Forest University on Monday, June 20, 2016.

Construction continues on phase one of the renovation of Poteat Residence Hall.

Pro Tip: Pre-Orientation Programs

Today I thought I would share a little pro tip with our P’20 parents and families.  This is about our Pre-Orientation camps.

Hopefully by now your Deac has seen the section of the New Students website on Pre-Orientation Programs.  These are remarkable launch experiences that our students can participate in.  These sessions begin a few days before official Move-In and they give students an opportunity to make friends and meet people in a smaller group setting and around a shared activity or interest.

These are also student-led programs, allowing our freshmen to meet upperclassmen as well as staff members from various offices within Campus Life as well as the Pro Humanitate Institute.  Those connections can make for powerful mentoring opportunities down the road.  It never hurts to have a trusted upperclassman or a staff member you can talk to in the first weeks of school if you need help or advice.

While the deadline for Wilderness to Wake program has passed, there are still six other options available:  BUILD, Deacon Camp, SPARC, World Wide Wake, The Summit, and Marching Band.  Applications for those programs, as well as their descriptions, are on the Pre-Orientation programs page.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s some testimonials from upperclassmen parents:

“I would highly recommend doing a Pre-Orientation Camp.  It was fantastic, allowing my shy girl to acclimate, make friends, AND move-in early, enabling us to postpone our move-in until later in the day when the traffic had cleared.”

“Consider a preorientation program. My Deac did not, but surprised at how many did, and made fast friends.”

[PS – if you have not discovered the Advice for New Parents by Current Parents page, please check out what our been-there-done-that families have to say.]

So there is your pro tip for the day.

— by Betsy Chapman

Lots of Miscellany

I’m back in the office today after a week of vacay, and there are a few things in the queue of things to tell you.

For our P’20 parents and families, we have a number of New Student Receptions coming up this week and next – I’m looking at you, Florida (Jacksonville and Windermere), Virginia (Richmond), Texas (Houston), and California (Atherton and Kentfield).  If you are a new family and wish to attend, please register online as soon as you can.  We would be especially grateful to have a handful of upperclassmen at each of these events – so if you are a family in the area and your Deac is home for the summer, please encourage him or her to register.

Today is our Wake Forest Fund Blitz Day.  This year our goal is to have 3,000 gifts to the Wake Forest Fund between June 1 and June 21.  If we hit this goal by June 21 at midnight, we will receive a $300,000 matching gift. As of this morning, we already had just shy of 1,000 gifts.  So if you have not made a gift to the Parents’ Campaign of the Wake Forest Fund, please consider making one.  Your gift could be the one to tip the scales so we get that $300K match, which is huge for us.  You can give securely online here.  Please do give something if you can, however small or big is not the issue – participation is.  [Normally I don’t talk about money here, but this is part of my job to encourage families to donate.  So in addition to helping Wake students and faculty, you’ll be helping my professional reputation when you make a gift 🙂 ]

Finally, for those of you who like the Quad Cam, we have a new toy in town.  This is called WeatherStem, and it give you local weather on campus, as well as a livestream look from the vantage point of the Miller Center. Fiddle around with the links and you can see all the options.

— by Betsy Chapman


Grade Expectations

(The Daily Deac is on vacation and will return Tuesday, June 21. The following covers a frequently discussed topic.)

For those upperclassmen parent Daily Deacers, this is a repost, but one I hope is worthy of it.

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 managing parental expectations and 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.

And many of our students share that worry.  Students feel pressure – real or imagined – to replicate their high school grades, or live up to some arbitrarily set GPA from their family, 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.”

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.

Use care and concern when you question your student abour grades

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

Reflect on your own experience and be ready or willing to share a time when you got a bad grade and how you recovered.

Reassure your student that your love is not directly proportional to their GPA (or their major, or intended career, etc.)

When the time comes, help them put grades into proper perspective.

Tell them NOW, this summer, that 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.

— by Betsy Chapman

Student Privacy Rights

(The Daily Deac is on vacation and will return Tuesday, June 21.)

As we continue our look into frequently asked questions, today we’ll deal with student privacy rights.

Academic privacy – colleges are bound to uphold FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), which means we cannot reveal information about students without their permission.  This includes midterm and final grades, whether the student is on track to graduate, etc.  Students control that information, and they have to waive those rights.  Students can grant Proxy Access to a parent or family member, which then allows us to be able to talk to you about the student.  If it is important to you to have access to that information, talk to your son or daughter over the summer so you can come to an agreement about this.

Financial privacy – because of FERPA, bills for tuition and other fees go directly to the student, not the parent.  As with grades, students have to grant their parents or third parties access to their accounts.  The DEAC system is our financial system, and I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage students to set up their parents or guardians on DEAC.  If your student does not, and is not in the habit of checking his/her email (0r a bill rolls to spam), he/she could miss out on registering for classes, etc.

Medical privacy – students over the age of 18 are protected by HIPAA privacy rule, which ensures the confidentiality of a patient’s medical information.  Students who are seen at the Health Service are the controllers of their health information; except in life threatening situations, the Student Health Service cannot share health information with parents, friends, professors, or deans, without the students’ permission.  So if you want to be able to talk to a doctor or nurse in the event your student is ill while at school, be sure to talk to your student now about granting permission to speak to you or signing consent forms if he/she presents with an illness.

You want to have these conversations now, and not when your student is at Student Health with strep throat, or when you want to see his/her grades, etc.

— by Betsy Chapman

Study Abroad – Part II

(The Daily Deac is on vacation and will return Tuesday, June 21. The following covers a frequently discussed topic.)

Today we pick up our conversation about study abroad, this time to discuss timing.  When should my student go abroad?

Conventional wisdom has been that the majority of students go abroad in the fall of the junior year.  That is not a Wake Forest rule, that is more student custom.  And, as always, there are pros and cons.

Some pros of going abroad in the fall of one’s junior year:

There will be more of your friends abroad at the same time you are, which means you might have free/easy places to stay in other cities/countries if you visit them (or vice versa).

For those going to France, fall is harvest time for grapes and there are wine festivals in Dijon and other cities.  Germany has Oktoberfest.

Depending on where you go, you might not see much of winter if the semester ends in early December.

You’ll be back for basketball season and spring recruitment for those in Greek life.

Some cons to going abroad in the fall of one’s junior year:

The biggest one – and the one that seems to cause students the most agita – is that you will probably not have your choice of residence hall or roommate when you return to the Reynolda campus for the spring semester.  As I tell my advisees, there is no mythical magic unicorn hall that sits empty in the fall awaiting juniors to return.  Because students who are enrolled at the Reynolda campus during the fall semester mostly stay in their same room for the spring semester, returning-from-abroad students have to fill in the available beds in residence halls that will be emptied because of students going abroad in the spring, taking a gap semester, going on medical leave, transferring, etc.  This often means you have to room with someone you do not already know (or may not choose), or in a residence hall you would not have chosen had you stayed on campus in the fall.  If you value living with a roommate of your choice or in the residence hall of your choice, then you may be better off going abroad in the spring; that way you will have the opportunity to pick your roommate and have the greatest number of options for your fall housing.

There are certain majors with sequential coursework (or courses are only offered in the fall) that might make your academic path more difficult.  I believe the Finance track in business might be one of them.  My advice is always that if your major department discourages you from going abroad fall of junior year and suggests you go abroad in spring of sophomore year, listen to them.

You will miss men’s soccer and football seasons, Hit the Bricks, Project Pumpkin, Family Weekend, Homecoming, and the Lovefeast.

Wake Forest also offers more study abroad-specific scholarship funding (need and merit-based) for students who study abroad in the spring semester, so there’s financial incentive to consider a spring semester abroad….

Again, there are no right or wrong answers, just points to consider so you make an informed choice.

— by Betsy Chapman