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Family Engagement

a site for Wake Forest parents and families


Upcoming Course Registration for New Students and Virtual New Student Reception

Our incoming first year students will be getting ready for Round I of course registration next week.  This is where they will register themselves for up to 10 hours of classes.  New students should be playing close attention to the Academics and Advising sections of (in the left hand side menus) to find information about registration and course requirements.

To augment those pages, we also have created a Virtual New Student Reception page for you and your students.  This page has a lot of the same advice we give students and families at the NSRs.  There are short videos with some step-by-step instructions on how to navigate the New Students web site to find the advising information needed.  There is some advice on what to do when students get their roommate assignment later this summer.  And there is also some advice from ‘been there, done that’ upperclassmen families and students.

So if you are a P’20, take a few minutes to look at the Virtual NSR page and all it offers, and recommend it to your student if he/she needs a little extra help as Round I of registration nears.

Also a little disclaimer from our office – I will be out today (Friday) and most of next week with New Student Receptions. Should your students have questions about registration, they have options from the Office of Academic Advising (scroll to the end of this page for info).

— by Betsy Chapman

Academic Advisers

I’m going to be totally off the grid for a week and thought I would pre-post some Daily Deacs that cover some of the questions we frequently get, or topics we wish families (and their students) knew.  Today’s topic is academic advisers.

When new freshmen enroll, they are assigned to an academic adviser (usually a faculty member) and a student adviser (an upperclassman).  Those assignments are made at random.  My own academic adviser was a science professor and I knew I wanted to be an English major. I remember thinking [read: worrying] that my adviser and I would have little in common and why the heck couldn’t I have been given an English professor as an adviser?

There is, of course, method to the madness.  A lot of times, students come in thinking they will major in X but turn out to major in Y.  By having an adviser randomly assigned, it can help students keep an open mind to the MANY major options.  It also doesn’t put students in an awkward situation of having to tell their adviser they do not wish to major in that person’s department after all.

Having an adviser in a different department also stretches our students interpersonally.  I had to figure out how to talk to my adviser and form a positive, constructive relationship even though our interests were vastly different.  I would not have learned nearly as much if my adviser had been an English professor with whom it was easy to form rapport.  As your students progress through college and move toward their future careers, it will be vital for them to know how to form positive, productive working relationships with people, especially ones where they don’t see a ton of commonality.

That said, many students wish to connect early on with representatives from multiple possible majors and minors, and we absolutely encourage this.  It takes a village, so your students can and should seek out other voices and mentors as thinking partners.

A student’s assigned academic adviser is the starting point – and he/she will retain that adviser until declaring a major in spring of sophomore year – but the student can reach out to other advisers as needed.  That might be faculty in a potential major area, or the full-time academic counselors in the Office of Academic Advising, who will always be ready to provide good counsel and recommendations.

Finally, the advising relationship depends a lot on what the student puts into it.  I always tell my advisees that I will be as present – or absent – in their Wake Forest experience as they wish for me to be.  Students always have to have a face to face meeting with their adviser before registering, so that can be all the interaction they have, or they are free to ask for more mentoring, more time, etc.  Like most relationships, the more you put into it, the better results you will have.

— by Betsy Chapman


Major/Minor Declaration

If you have a sophomore, this is the week for him/her to declare a major (and a minor, if desired).  The Registrar’s office has info on the mechanics of declaring. I want to provide a few thoughts on what I hear from students about majors (disclaimer – my opinions, not necessarily that of every adviser or WFU).

Students and majors tend to fall into one of a few camps:

I found my major and I love it!  

I have no idea what to major in and I am superstressed about it.

I want to major in X and I dread telling my parents.

Let’s look at those one by one.

For those of you with students who found their major and love it:

Kudos, congratulations, rock on! A student who is excited about his/her choice of major tends to be happier and have better grades than one who is majoring in Something They Don’t Love (but are doing it to please mom and dad). If your Deac loves his or her major area, be encouraging and excited for him or her.

When your student finds an academic passion, his/her grades tend to be better. This is a subject your Deac finds fun, invigorating, exciting. You don’t mind working hard for a subject you love, and typically the grades reflect that.

For those of you with students who have no idea what to major in and are superstressed about it (most of you are probably freshmen parents):

The choice of major ultimately has to rest with the student. It has to be his or her decision, because your student has to own the consequences of that decision.  Instead of offering suggestions of a major, you might try some prompting questions:

– Which classes have you liked the most so far, and why? What is it about those classes you liked?

– What can you absolutely rule out as a no? Are there Divisions you gravitate toward? And if so, where can you turn to learn more about the requirements for particular majors? (Hint: the Undergraduate Bulletin lays all that out for them!)

– What have other students you know said about that major? If you haven’t asked any of your friends/hallmates/classmates, would that be worth your time?

– Are there people on campus who might be able to help you think about options? Academic Advising? OPCD? Faculty or staff mentors?

Every student should ultimately be able to find some area of interest. It takes longer for some than others.  (And when your Deac does find his or her passion, go back to the first part of this blog and read the advice about when your student loves his/her major.)

For our students who say I want to major in X and I dread telling my parents:

Some of our students are actively worried about telling their mom, dad, or loved ones about their choice of major. If I had a dollar for every student who confided in me that he/she is worried about telling parents their intended major, I would have a much bigger and nicer house 🙂

In all seriousness, for some of our students, they feel a pressure/obligation (real or imagined) that mom and dad expect them to major in X, and they will be a disappointment to them if they do not. You may have never even talked about majors or suggested a particular one, but your Deac may feel so anyway.

To the degree that you can take that pressure off your student, do so. Tell your son or daughter that you don’t care what he/she majors in and you will be supportive of the decision.  Every single major can ultimately lead to a good job or happy post-Wake life (see #2 below).

Two bits of parting advice for all parents, then a story:

1) Let your student major in whatever he/she wants. That is the greatest gift you can give them.

2) Resist the urge to ask “what are you going to do with that as a major?” No matter the major, Wake Forest students develop strong writing skills, analytical skills, and critical thinking. Our students can access great personal and career development tools in the OPCD to hone their resumes, practice interviewing, etc. Any and every major can succeed and find jobs. (Another way to think of this: if you were a hiring manager, would you rather hire a student who had an overall GPA of an A in Major X That He/She Loved, or a student who had a B- or a C GPA in a Major They Felt Pressured to Choose?)

Finally, a story.

One of my best Wake friends fell into the “I have no idea what I want to major in” camp. She struggled and struggled and took most of sophomore year to test various departments and try to find it. And then when she hit spring semester, she fell in love with one of her classes, read up on the major requirements and got excited about the classes she had to take. It was like a giant weight was lifted off her shoulders. She found a purpose! She was excited.

And then she told her family.

The reaction was tepid at best, deflating at worst. My friend heard the message ‘you cannot major in that. you will never get a job. you have to pick something else.’ Being a people-pleaser, she did choose something else (she ultimately minored in the thing she loved, but she majored in something that was Fine but not Great).

Having that parental disapproval was a major blow to her at a time when she had been so excited. It was terrible to watch. I loved her family and still do to this day, but I wanted so badly to tell them how much their daughter had cried about being told she couldn’t follow her passion, and how she would have been plenty employable as a major in X, which she loved.

Please, please don’t do that to your kids.

— by Betsy Chapman

Misc Monday

What a glorious, glorious weekend we just had.  Yesterday was about 60-65 degrees and sunny – so wonderful after the snow.  There is still some snow lingering, by the way, mostly on the side of the roads where it had been piled up by snow plows and now has all manner of exhaust from cars graying it.  But with this warmth, we will no doubt fool some of the daffodils and other flowers into trying to burst into life early.

Couple of great news items to tell you about from late last week.  Wake Forest was awarded a $650,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the ‘engaged humanities’:

“Funding will support a range of humanities-inflected programming, including, in response to high faculty demand, more opportunity for cross-disciplinary faculty to teach together and offer students the benefit of intentional cross-disciplinary learning, particularly in the context of publically engaged courses, for which faculty have increasingly been seeking support.”

We have a fantastic program of experiential learning taking place right now with the Iowa Caucuses.  Wake the Vote has taken 22 students to Iowa to work on a presidential campaign:

“When 22 Wake Forest University students travel to the Iowa caucuses to work with presidential campaigns, they will embark upon a yearlong journey that combines classroom and real-world political experience through a program called Wake the Vote….From volunteering on the campaigns of presidential candidates to attending classes to planning community forums to organizing non-partisan voter registration efforts, the group will spend 2016 examining issues central to the presidential election.”

The students are randomly assigned to a candidate at each major campaign destination to which they will travel, giving them broad exposure to different candidates and campaigns.  (And just a plug here: if your student has not registered to vote, please encourage him/her to do so.  Look into absentee ballots in your state.)

Also, for first-year students contemplating applying to the School of Business, February is full of activities just for first-years.  There will be information sessions, discussions of how to study abroad as a business major, drop-in times for Q&A and more. A word of advice too: please tell your first-year students to heed the recommendations of the advisers in the business program about the timing of their study-abroad experience.  This might mean going abroad spring of sophomore year instead of fall of junior year – but there are good reasons for that.

A past event to mention – we have a video about the making of the Sutton Center (gym addition).  If you want a look at this project from the beginning to end, this covers it all.

Finally, a few upcoming events to mention:

STEM Slam is this Wednesday evening

There is an Art Career Panel on Thursday evening

aWAKE All Night will start this Saturday

Those are but three things in a very full week.  See for yourself at the Events Calendar.

Make it a great week, Deac families!  And if you haven’t sent your student a Deacon Greeting lately, keep this on your radar screen for Valentine’s Day (or just to say “I love you” – that never gets old!)

— 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

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