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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

Happy Friday

Wake Forest students enjoy crisp fall weather as they walk across campus on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

Wake Forest students enjoy crisp fall weather as they walk across campus on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

Happy Friday to all our Deac parents and families.  It’s felt like a long week on campus.  Our first-year students and sophomores have been in the process of meeting with their academic advisers to plan their spring 2016 schedules; juniors and seniors meet with major advisers.  As I talk with other adviser friends of mine, there are some common refrains that many of us hear during these meetings, particularly from first-year students:

Concern about a particular midterm grade – some students are surprised (and unhappy) with a particular grade.  The best bet for those students is to go talk to his/her professor about their class performance and get suggestions on how to improve.  Augment that with going to the appropriate support office (Math Center, Writing Center, Chem Center, Learning Assistance Center) for extra help.  The reality is, students who might have had all As in high school will likely find that an unsustainable model for college.  But as long as students are doing their work, not procrastinating, seeking extra help, studying well, etc., they have done their best – and ought to feel good about that.  They also worry about what you, their parents or families, will think about their grades.  To the degree that you can help take that pressure off them, they will feel a lot more at ease.

Anxiety about registration time – registration is set up in two rounds: in the first round students pick up to 8 credit hours, then they complete their schedule one week later.  Registration times are assigned randomly, but with an effort to trying to be fair – so if you have an ‘early’ registration time the first week, a student will likely have a ‘late’ registration time the next week (that way, no one lucky student gets to go first twice and grab all the best classes).  Your students may tell you “I can’t get any classes I want” – but if you probe further, likely you will find that translates to “I couldn’t get the specific professor/time I wanted.”  There are almost always spots open in 8 am classes, so students need to be open minded and not lock in to a specific time slot (read: after 10 am) or a specific professor.

Concern about not yet knowing what their major will be – many of our students enter Wake Forest thinking they are going to go to the Business School here, or ultimately want to go to medical school.  And while some of our students go on and do just that, many others find along the way that some of the prerequisites for those paths don’t play to their strengths.  And then they are forced to say “What do I do now?”  The OPCD (Office of Personal and Career Development) has some wonderful assessments students can take to help identify their interests and strengths.  They also have a great page about choosing a major and being able to see what types of jobs students with those majors have landed.  That can be a great, and reassuring, resource.

Related: this past week, Dr. Kate Brooks – Executive Director of Personal and Career Development – was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss “how to land your dream job.” Dr. Brooks is a nationally recognized career specialist with more than 20 years of experience in higher education. She is the author of a best selling career coaching book, “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career,” and was named No. 6 on 2013 Career Services Insights Survey for the “10 Most Visionary and Forward-Thinking Leaders in Career Services and Recruiting in 2013.” Check out the story here.

I think it’s also the time of year when students are dealing with seasonal allergies, and/or colds or some sort of bug (I was felled by an awful one last week).  So some of them might be feeling a little extra droopy.  Would be a great time for you to think about sending a care package with some TLC from home.

As always on Fridays, we urge you to call your Deacs.  This Friday in particular might be an especially good time.  We referenced earlier in the week an email sent to parents about trying to reduce high-risk drinking behaviors associated with Halloween and the last home game of the season.  Parents’ attitudes and influences are important, as stated in the email: “Research has shown that parents are one of the biggest sources of influence on their child’s drinking habits. Conversations with your student can help reduce the risky use of alcohol, and we encourage you to speak with your son or daughter about your concerns about their use of alcohol, especially in a risky manner.”

importance of being earnestA great activity for your Deacs this weekend would be to go see the University Theatre production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  This is a terrific play by Oscar Wilde, and even better, it’s a chance for your students to see the immense talents of their friends, hallmates, classmates, and faculty who are involved.

Looking ahead to next week, here’s a little reminder for something coming up on Monday.  If your students want to learn some effective strategies for studying, they should attend the following program:

The Learning Assistance Center’s “Study Smarter, Not Harder” workshop series will introduce WFU students to a number of helpful strategies that will improve academic performance. Our second workshop for the fall semester is scheduled for Monday, November 2, from 5:00-6:00 in Greene Hall 145. This workshop will focus specifically on reading strategies, performance anxiety, and using Zotero.

— by Betsy Chapman

Project Pumpkin and more

Project Pumpkin is today, and I am hoping that the forecast improves.  There is an 80% chance of rain for the day, and it’s pretty grey and foggy this morning.  Theoretically you will be able to tune in to the Quad Cam in the 3-5ish timeframe to be able to see (if at a distance) the fun of Project Pumpkin.  I fear though that if there is a lot of rain (or threat thereof), much of the action would take place inside Wait Chapel or the gym as a rain location.

Just saw a notice of an event coming up this Thursday.  This is an event I’ve seen covered at other schools, but I think this might be the first time we are doing it here.

Sigma Phi Epsilon PREPARE, and Trailblaze are coming together to bring Walk A Mile In Her Shoes to Wake Forest University. Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is an event focused on raising sexual assault awareness in a very hands on, or should I say feet on, fashion. Basically, the event requires all participants to don high heels, yes, especially the men, and walk a mile. The event is intended to be an active learning session, as it will physically show how hard it is for women to walk in high heels, and is designed to educate the Wake Forest community about the causes of sexualized violence. It will also provide them with personal experience to empower the community to further develop and implement this knowledge both in their interpersonal and political life.

The event will take place Thursday 10/29 on Wake Forest’s Hearn Plaza (upper quad) from 3PM to 6PM, with set-up and registration from 2:30 PM to 3:00 PM, and a debriefing about the walk lasting from 6:00 PM to 6:30 PM. Registration/Participation is FREE!!!!

Sign-up here!

The event is open to fraternities, sororities, student groups, administration, and the student body in general. Registration will be going out for teams of 4 to compete for the fastest mile time, and the rights to both a trophy and claiming the proceeds from the event to PREPARE in their name.

Registration for spring 2016 courses will begin next week.  Students should be meeting with their major adviser (juniors and seniors) or their lower division adviser (freshmen and sophomores) to talk about courses.  There is a great deal of information about registration on the Registrar’s web site; some of it is on the main page, then there is a section just about registration.  Students should consult this page (and see the menus at the far left for additional registration sections) as needed.

One VERY IMPORTANT reminder about registration is that students’ accounts must be in good standing (read: no unpaid charges) to be allowed to register.  Students should check in WIN under Virtual Campus – Check Your Holds and Registration Status to make sure they don’t have any holds or unpaid bills that would prevent them from registering.

I always tell my advisees, check your holds a day or two before you register, so you have time to take care of any holds, then check again on the morning of registration.  At students’ request, registration got moved to the evenings a few years ago – which was good because you no longer had possibility of a class conflicting with your registration time – but the downside is that if you have an unpaid bill, you can’t fix that problem after business hours; you have to wait until the next morning when that office opens to clear the bill.

So a word to the wise…students (and parents if your student created a third party access for you on DEAC) should check for holds before registering.  Students don’t want to find out the hard way they are blocked from registering.

— by Betsy Chapman

Column A, Column B

Deep. Breaths.

For all our new P’19s, there might be some flutters in your stomachs (or more likely your Deacs’ stomachs) as the new students self-register for up to 8 hours of their fall schedules this week.  Upperclassmen parents, you probably remember the drill yourselves.

This tends to be an anxiety-producer all around:  what should I take? am I choosing the right things? what if what I want is closed before I can register? how do I know what is the best thing to do?

Stop, and take a deep breath.  Or two, or three.

There’s lots of resources out there to understand the academic requirementsregistration process, and advising process – and links on the left menus show places to get more info.  And there are some videos at the top of the Virtual New Student Reception page plus this email from the Office of Academic Advising to the first-years about registration.

The good news for our freshman – you haven’t fulfilled any of your Basic or Divisional requirements yet, so pretty much anything you take within those groups will advance you toward a degree.  The other good news: things tend to work out – so trust the process.

A note to students (and parents!) though, that you might not get your first choice of classes your first semester, because sophomores, juniors, and seniors registered before you (as they should).  So, students, make your choices given your best available options at the time.

Aside: this is a mantra I stress over and over to all the students I meet with:  life is about choices.  And while it would be great to have the luxury of choosing from Column A and Column B every time, sometimes you can choose one, not both.  [I jokingly refer to this as the Betsy Binary.]  So if you have to choose Column A or Column B (not both), rather than lament the fact you can only choose one, just make your best decision and move on, knowing that we can’t have everything exactly as we wish all the time.

Before each registration period while I was a student at Wake, I tried to craft my Dream Schedule (A list), but also had a B-list and a C-list and a D-list schedule, so I had backup plans and options.  If you get lucky, you’ll get some A- and B-list items the first year – if not, your backup classes are still things that will check off requirements on the Course Completion Checklist and move you towards your degree.

In terms of choosing classes, there may be some courses you’ll put your foot down about and say “I must have ENGXXX class with Dr. YYY and if I don’t get it this time, I’ll try again next semester.”  There may be other times when you say “I wanted REL111 with Dr. ZZZ but it is closed.  But I see an opening for REL111 with Dr. AAA and I’m OK with that.”

Part of the exercise of going to college and growing into adulthood is about evaluating options and making choices.  Parents, you can help here by reminding your students that sometimes life is about getting “A or B” not “A and B” – and that’s OK.

— by Betsy Chapman


Stop, Drop, and Roll

The first of our New Student Receptions is tonight in Weston, MA, a Boston suburb.  I’ll be there to help staff that event, so am doing a little pre-blogging for the time I’ll be traveling.

On the website, we have a section called Advice for New Parents.  If you are a new parent (P’19), we encourage you to visit.  And if you are the parent of an upperclassman/woman and you missed it last year, feel free to review it as well.

This year we added a new item called Stop, Drop, and Roll about student problem-solving.  It’s meant to be a bit cheeky but at the same time tackle one of the tough parental decision points – when to help your student with problems vs. when to let go and let them do it.

There are great benefits to students trying to find answers and solutions on their own whenever possible.  However, as a mom myself (hopeful P’27), I frequently struggle with knowing when to jump in and when to back off.  And I also wanted to be sure that parents have resources and contact information if you need to be in touch for a truly urgent situation.  Hope you find this useful.

— by Betsy Chapman


Stop Drop and RollOne of the most important ways parents and families can help their students have a successful transition to college life is by encouraging them to solve their own problems.  Please bookmark or print out this Stop, Drop and Roll Student Problem-Solving flyer so you have it when your student contacts you with a problem.  Also, the flyer lists contact information for urgent and serious concerns where parent intervention might be appropriate.

When your student calls you with a problem, rather than jump right into FIX IT! Mode, we’re asking you to Stop, Drop, and Roll.  Here’s what we mean:

Stop – and take a deep breath when your student contacts you with a problem.  Is it REALLY, something he or she cannot solve on his or her own?  If you fix the problem for your student, has your student really learned anything or developed self-reliance and independence?

Drop – the urge to reach out and fix things yourself or provide instructions on how your student should handle the situation.  Instead, push back with questions: What do you think you might do?  What are your options?  What campus offices might have resources?  What have you already tried?   

Roll – with it!  This is easy to say, but hard to do.  Let your student do the problem-solving on his or her own (even if the solution is different from how you might have handled it).  Struggling with adversity builds resilience and helps your students learn that they are capable and resourceful.

Why Is It Important to Let Your Students Solve Problems on Their Own?

None of us want to see our students struggle with problems.  Think back to a time when you were 18 or 19 and had a big issue in front of you that you managed to solve on your own.  Didn’t you feel good at the end that you managed to find a solution – even if it was hard at the time?  Didn’t you feel stronger? more independent? capable? proud?

Parents, your problem-solving skills are already well-developed precisely because you have had to flex those problem-solving muscles many times in your life.  Your skills developed over time and through use.  Now it is your students’ turn to grow those muscles!

Unintended Consequences of Parents’ Problem-Solving  for their Students

Sometimes parents – with only the best of intentions – want to solve their students’ problems thinking it will help their student (e.g. ‘my daughter is so stressed out about midterms – if I can call Residence Life for her and find the answer she needs, it will take one thing off her plate and help her!’) While you may think intervening on your student’s behalf will help in the short term, are you helping them develop the skills they need in the long term?  We all have to juggle multiple priorities in our adult lives – school or work, relationships, home issues, money issues.  The sooner your students learn to manage competing priorities and solve problems, the better prepared they will be for the real world after college.

Another issue that arises from parent intervention is that when you fix things for your students, the message you may send them – however unintended – is that you might not believe your students can fix the problems on their own, or that you don’t trust them do it right themselves.  This can create a cycle of uncertainty and dependence at a time when your students need to develop self-advocacy, independence, and problem solving skills.

What Abour Serious Problems or Urgent Concerns?

While we encourage you to let your student navigate his or her Wake Forest experience as independently as possible, if you have an urgent concern about the health, safety, or wellbeing of your student or others, there are offices available to assist you.

University Police
336-758-5591 (non-emergency)
336-758-5911 (emergency)
Admin Offices:

Student Health Service
Nurse available at the Health Service with physician on-call back-up after clinic hours (5:00 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.) Monday through Friday and 24
hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays during the Fall and Spring semesters

University Counseling Center
After-hours and weekend crisis response available when school is in session by calling the Student Health Service at 336-758-5218

Office of Parent Programs
336-758-4237 (main Parents’ Page) and (Parents’ Page FAQ with answers to many frequently-asked questions)

After hours assistance
Most administrative offices work on a Monday-Friday 8:30 am-5:00 pm schedule.  If you have an urgent need to reach someone at the university because you have a concern that must be addressed quickly, we have designated the University Police as our 24/7 contact. They can assess the situation and determine who best to address your concern.

The 24-hour contact number for University Police is 336.758.5591 (non-emergency) or 336.758.5911 (emergency). They can get in touch with on-call
duty staff 24-hours/day.


Black and Gold Friday

Happy Black and Gold Friday, Deac families.  I hope that wherever you are, you think about wearing black and gold or WFU apparel to show your WFU pride.  And help spread the idea to your students.  If we want to have tremendous school spirit, a great way to do that is to wear our school colors.

A few random musings for a drizzly Friday morning.  A friend on Facebook posted an article with advice for the Class of 2015 on finding a job and the danger of feeling you have to find a passion.  Workplace consultant and career coach Alexandra Levit said this in the article:

“I think what’s dangerous is when we as career advisors tell people they won’t be happy until they find their passion. It puts pressure on people to go out and find this elusive career of passion and… they can’t be happy with the job they have. Just because you have a passion doesn’t necessarily mean you can or should make a living at it. Find a job you like well enough. You’re not going to love every minute of every day, but you want to genuinely get some satisfaction out of it. And then leave time for other things in life that are important, like your personal life, hobby, friends and family.”

You can  read the full story here.  This is interesting food for thought, becuase many of my contemporaries who have jobs (but their passions might be elsewhere) are starting to question whether to shift their career to more of a passion, but can they turn that passion into a salary with which they are happy?  Or is the better strategy to stay the course in a solid job and use the money from the job to fuel your passion on weekends, trips during PTO, etc.

As always, we invite your comments at

Hope that as Spring Break winds to a close, your students have safe travels back to campus and they are ready to bring a strong finish to the semester.  Looming in the near term is advising and course registration for the fall, then housing and dining selection for next year.  It will be a busy time.

Just about 7 weeks until the end of classes.  How is that possible?  The semester has flown by.


— by Betsy Chapman

Project Civility, Registration Information, and Organic Food

There’s an activity on campus tomorrow that your students in which your students should consider taking part.  This has been organized by the Student Advising Leadership Council.  You may know that in addition to having a faculty or staff academic adviser, first-year students also have a student adviser, a specially-trained peer adivser who not only takes their advising group through various Orientation activities, but is also there as a resource to answer questions.

You can see the Student Advising Leadership Council’s message below.

“Join Student Advising and the Pro Humanitate Institute on November 12th to celebrate civility! 
This year’s summer project for new students was centered on civility.  New students were asked to read and discuss P.M. Forni’s Choosing Civility for Project Wake.  It was the vision of the Committee on Orientation and Lower Division Advising that this project would continue throughout the year through various campus events and experiences.  In an effort to do this, the Student Advising Leadership Council has partnered with the Pro Humanitate Institute to organize a campus wide banner decorating event on the theme of civility.  The event will be held on November 12th, from 10 AM – 5 PM on Manchester Plaza.  Students will be asked to write or draw what civility means to them on a large banner.  Later, the banner will be displayed on campus.  We are hoping that this will be a timely, engaging, and meaningful way to celebrate civility and what it means to Wake Forest students.  We will be holding a raffle during the event featuring copies of Choosing Civility signed by Presdient Hatch, Coach Manning, and Coach Clawson.  We look forward to seeing you there – this is your chance to express how you feel about Civility in a significant way!”

I hope your students will come out and share their thoughts about civility on this banner.  We might have differing ideas about what civility means to each of us – but we all live and work in this community and shared space.  It should be instructive for your students to see what other people think civility means at Wake Forest, and they ought to add their own voices to the conversation.  We are as strong a community as we make it – and that starts with caring, being present, participating, listening to others.  They can help shape our community and our sense of civility.

Here’s a couple of tips on Round 2 of Registration this week.

1.  Remind your students to go into WIN-Virtual Campus-Check Your Holds and Registration Status to check for any holds.  Having a hold means you cannot register until the hold is cleared; it could be a hold for an unpaid fee of some sort, etc.  Your students want to make sure that they don’t have any holds before the second round of Registration.  I told my own group to check it today, clear any holds, and then check it again the morning you register just so they don’t have an unhappy surprise :)

2. Registration information is available online at the Registrar’s site.  Your students hopefully know to navigate to this page, but if they don’t and they call you in a panic, at least you have it.  One key piece is the Google Mail Chat function that is available after hours.  If your student runs into a technical issue or some question, they can use this Chat option to get after hours assistance.

Finally, there is a student-run entrepreneurial venture that is piloting this week from Jake Teitelbaum (’16), a Business and Enterprise Management major.  He wrote:

“Beginning this Monday, I am conducting a pilot to see if there is sufficient demand within the WFU community for a service that would allow individuals to order local and organic foods online which will then be conveniently delivered to campus. Our website will begin taking orders on Sunday, November 9th, and food will be delivered to campus onThursday, November 13th.
In a nutshell, the idea is to make high quality local & organic foods more accessible for people like yourself who are unable to make it to the farmers market. For the trial run, we are sourcing products from Harmony Ridge Farms (it’s 20 minutes down the road on the border of Winston and Tobaccoville).
I’m working with Wake alum Isaac Oliver of Harmony Ridge Farms, to make buying high quality local and organic foods more convenient. Visit to learn more and place your order. Please share within your WFU network.”

So if your students are interested in participating in this pilot and having fresh food delivered to campus, they now have that option!





New Student Convocation

class of 2018 photoIt’s been a long weekend of Orientation activities for our new first-year Class of 2018s.  I caught the tail end of yesterday’s events – dinner with academic advising groups over at the football stadium, followed by Wake the Demons, a spirited pep rally kind of evening where new students learned cheers and the fight song and such.  One nice outcome was a class picture – so behold, the Class of 2018!  It will be hard for you to find your Deac, but your student can probably tell you the general area to look.

This morning all of the new students went to one-on-one meetings with their academic advisers.  Those appointments give students a chance to talk about any schedule items that they had questions or concerns about, but also provides an opportunity for the adviser and student to get to know each other better, set any expectations of what they want from their advising relationship, etc.  And it gives the advisers an opening to offer some tips or advice on how to get a good start.  It’s always fun getting to know a new group of advisees.

After lunch we had New Student Convocation.  This official academic ceremony provided a venue for the new class to gather with their student adviser (and academic advisers if available).  I attended this event and wanted to offer a brief recap.

Sarah Martin (’15), the student representative on the Committee on Orientation and Lower Division Advising, offered her top 1o pieces of advice for new students as they start their college careers:

1. Strive for milestones.

2. Work hard.

3. Don’t fear failure.  (She got a big audience chuckle when she said – tongue in cheek –  ‘Remember that falling on your face is still forward movement.’)

4. Seek help and use campus resources.

5. Find a mentor.

6. Get involved.

7. Roll the Quad!  (I loved her explanation – that rolling the Quad is so much more than about athletic victories – it represents the coming together of our community).

8. Make the most of your time here.

9. Be kind.

10. Live Pro Humanitate [our motto, ‘For humanity’]

University Chaplain Tim Auman followed.  He invited everyone to share in the blessing he offered for the new students, in the spirit of everyone’s faith traditions.  What struck me the most in his blessing was his invocation of the notion of wisdom, civility, compassion, and generosity of spirit.

President Nathan O. Hatch addressed the group next.  He shared stories of some of his college professors.  One had picked on him, singled him out in class, threw him curveball questions and tough assignments.  Dr. Hatch came to realize he was not being picked on, but intellectually engaged, because his professor saw something in him that made him want to press harder.  “He understood that a student’s mind is not a bucket to be filled, but a fire to light,” said Dr. Hatch.

He also talked about a class that was really rigorous – 12 research papers due in a 15 week term.  Dr. Hatch recalled having to spend two days each week researching and writing those papers.  And while the workload was challenging, he discovered by the end of the term, he’d learned how to take his research and writing to the next level.  Dr. Hatch said it was as if his mind had been to the gym and his mental muscles had grown from so much practice.  He also said that he discovered that learning needs both silence and solitude, and that class helped him focus and concentrate.

Dr. Hatch concluded by urging students to chew on the big questions outside of class.  What do I know?  In what can I believe?  How can I serve?  In what do I want to invest my life?  And that students should explore the big questions of life and think about developing both mind and character in college.

Meredith Mulkerrin (’15), Student Government President, reflected on the transition from high school to college.  She said that most Wake Forest students arrive at college being used to being big fish in a small pond, and the sudden realization that you are a minnow is an adjustment.  And that during Orientation (and at the start of your first year) EVERYONE is offering you advice about everything.  But in class, everything is different.  In class, you can use your voice – ask questions, challenge assumptions, examine and expose.

She concluded with offering this advice and predictions for the future:

– in the last 4 hours of Orientation, soak up all the advice you can.

– in 4 days, follow up with your student advisers and faculty advisers.  Talk to them – tell them how you are, or if you need help.

– in 4 weeks, you’ll learn who you click with (and who you don’t).  You’ll also learn your caffeine delivery device of choice.

– in 4 months, take your pulse.  You’ll be home and reseeing your friends from high school.  You’ll have time to reflect on the semester.  Who are you? What have you learned? How have you changed?

– in 4 years, you’ll have a list a mile long of why you love Wake Forest!

Before the singing of the alma mater and the recessional, Christy Buchanan, Associate Dean of Academic Advising, presented the awards for Excellence in Academic Advising.  This year’s winners were Mary Gerardy, Associate Vice President and Associate Dean of Campus Life, and Luis González, Associate Professor of Spanish.  Dean Buchanan offered one final piece of advice to the new students: communicate.  In person whenever possible, but communicate with your new faculty, peers, and community members.

The convocation concluded and the new students went back out to the Quad, which was a near perfect mid 70s and sunny.  A picture perfect WFU day.

Classes start tomorrow.  The adventure begins!

Academic Resources

Today’s Daily Deac is going to focus on academics – the heart of why your students are here.  For those with incoming first-year students, this message might be especially important.

Wake Forest is a rigorous academic environment.  Our students come to Wake Forest as high achievers and they have high expectations for their performance in the classroom.   That does not mean the work is always easy – most of the time it is not – and many of our students find that they need some extra help and support along the way.  Thankfully, Wake has abundant resources for students.

The Academic Resources page lists a lot of these resources: Math Center, Writing Center, Academic Advising, Learning Assistance Center, and more.  Your students should take advantage of these resources any time they need them – better to go as soon as they feel like they are having difficulty.  For students in chemistry, there is also a Chem Clinic that is a popular resource.

The Office of Academic Advising is there as a resource to augment the support provided by students’ individual academic advisers.  Students can seek the advice and assistance of the full-time academic counselors in the OAA.   The OAA also has some pre-professional advising resources that are very helpful to students who think they might want to go into law, business, health, engineering, etc.  Students considering those fields should be sure they are consulting those web sites and making sure they are selecting schedules that meet all prerequisites, etc.

Faculty are an additional resource for students.  Each faculty member is required to keep office hours – which is a set time they will be available each week in their office, available for students to drop in with questions or just to visit.  Students can also contact their faculty members to make an appointment at another time if they have a conflict during office hours.

Students can also seek out and engage faculty members that they do not currently have for class.  For example, if a student is considering a major in English, say, he could stop by the English department and speak to an English professor during his or her office hours about the major.

When in doubt academically, ask someone and get help.  Nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking out support when needed.


And a final aside.  This invitation below is for Fridays @ Farrell, which is open to alumni, parents, friends, and current students with connections to the School of Business.  If you will be in Winston-Salem and want to attend on Friday the 15th, please see the RSVP information below.  The Wake Forest network can be a tremendous resource for your students. Encourage them to get involved in events like these whenever they can!

Fridays @ Farrell

Dr. Charles Iacovou, newly appointed School of Business Dean, invites you to wind down your week at Wake Forest for the School of Business Fridays@Farrell. Alumni from the Triad are invited to join us for an after work social gathering to network with classmates, alums, friends and those that support the
School of Business with their time, talent and treasure.
Wine, beer, soda and light snacks will be served.

Date: August 15
Rain or shine
Time: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: Wake Forest University – School of Business
Reynolds American Foundation Terrace
1834 Wake Forest Rd.
Winston Salem, NC 27106

Please RSVP by August 14 »
Parking & Directions »

Save the date: if you are unable to attend, plan to join us at the next
Fridays @ Farrell event on Friday Nov. 14.


Set Your Calendars

Summer Session 2 has begun, and yesterday I saw a ton of people moving in (on a very hot and sunny day, I might add).  It is nice to see some students back on campus.  And that reminds me that there is an action item for parents and families coming up very soon.

Registration for Family Weekend 2014 is going live at 10 am on Tuesday, July 15th!  So mark your calendars now and be ready to go next Tuesday when registration opens.  The website for Family Weekend is

Family Weekend will be held October 24-26, and Student Union has prepared a whole host of events and activities for you to enjoy with your Deacs.  Be aware, though, that some events will sell out (and possibly sell out quickly), so if you plan to attend, you’d be wise to register early.

You can see the full schedule of events online, as well as information about the various football and tailgate options, and be sure to read their FAQ page.

And for those of you with incoming first-year students, I am sure upcoming class registration might be on their minds.  Here are a few thoughts:

– If your students have questions or need help, now is the time to ask!  There will be Google Chat sessions available beginning Sunday (see bottom of the Advising page), and the Office of Academic Advising has a great first-year student FAQ

– Interested in potential business, law, and/or allied health (aka med school, etc.)?  Be aware of pre-professional advising resources.

– All students need to be aware of the Curriculum Requirements (Basic and Divisional Requirements)

– There is a Registration Guide online to help students navigate the system