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Decisions, Decisions

This morning it is very much colder – only in the teens, but with the wind chill it feels like single digits.  For NC, this is *cold*.  All eyes are turned to the forecast to see if it will snow.  It looks like most of the major weather will take place well east of Winston-Salem.  Still, there appears to be a decent chance of snow midday through tonight, though not much accumulation predicted.

Even though classes have just started this semester, we have some students – sophomores in particular – who are beginning to think very long and hard about choosing a major, and whether they want to go abroad (and if so, which semester).  Sophomores with adequate credits will declare a major mid-semester, and there are many fall 2014 abroad programs (both at Wake and at other affiliated programs) who will require applications to be turned in around March.

Today’s blog isn’t about which major to choose or whether/where/when to go abroad, but it is more about the general decision making process itself.   Some of our students have no problem making decisions.  For others, they seem to be experiencing either difficulty in making the decision, and/or regret about possible consequences of that decision.

Without being able to see inside people’s heads, I don’t know  their reasons for the struggle to decide – but I have a couple of guesses:

- It might be that students are afraid of making the wrong choice.

- Or they are afraid of missing out on something fun by choosing X over Y.

- Maybe they are afraid there will be disapproval (real or imagined) from family and friends.

success_and_happiness- Or even if students think X is the best choice, they have some anguish that by choosing X, a whole series of doors will close forever or there will be wonderful opportunities they miss as a result that will negatively impact the rest of their lives (as seen in this cartoon).

In other words, it seems that for some students, they might be attributing a lot of weight to a choice that in reality might not be a game changer.

Parents and families, perhaps you can help here, by talking to your students about decisions you have made.  At this stage in their development, your students may not know that not everything has to be an Epic, Lifealtering, No-Way-to-Go-Back decision.   So help them keep things in perspective.  Talk to them about some decisions you have made – good and bad – and help them get used to the idea that you aren’t ever going to be 100% right and 100% wise all the time.  Sometimes you won’t choose the best option, but I guarantee you will learn from that choice nonetheless.

There is a second piece to decision making that may also come into play – which is wanting to do A, but being unhappy with the consequences.  When I hear students who are going through this, it most often sounds to me like they did not think through all the potential outcomes of a decision, and then once they were going through the aftermath they are unhappy.  In these instances, an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.

Going back to the idea of studying abroad, current sophomores who want to go abroad have to think about whether they want to go abroad in the fall or spring semester.  If a student goes abroad in the fall, there may be some potential pros:

- better weather (maybe?)

- more of our students/their friends tend to go abroad in the fall

- ability to be back in the spring for basketball season, Greek recruitment, etc.

However, there may be some potential cons:

- may have to live in a residence hall that is not his/her first choice

- may not be able to select a roommate

The reality of going abroad in the fall semester is that when you return, students don’t get first pick at their residence hall  - they will be choosing among vacancies that are opening up as other people depart for the spring semester.  So it is likely that your student won’t be in his/her first choice of residence hall, and/or may be rooming with someone he/she doesn’t know.  (I went abroad and this sort of thing happened to a lot of my friends).

The key to this scenario is managing expectations and anticipating consequences to help your student make the most informed decision he/she can.  Your student needs to weigh those pros and cons.  How badly do I want to go abroad?  Am I willing to compromise on which semester I go?  Will I have such a good time that it will be worth it even if I am placed in a room/residence hall that has a vacancy?  Would I be better thinking about going abroad in the spring, that way I can be on campus the fall of my junior year (and be able to select the room of my choice)?  Would I be willing to live in a residence hall that is not as in demand (but there will be a double open and I can pull in my best friend), or is the most important consideration the residence hall and I don’t care if I live with a stranger?

wherethemagichappensSometimes a decision (or the consequences of a decision) takes a student out of his or her comfort zone.  In the case of a returning abroad student being paired in a room with someone they didn’t know previously, that could be the beginning of an amazing new friendship they would never have discovered otherwise.  When we step out of our comfort zones, sometimes magic can happen.   But we have to be willing to take a leap of faith to get there.

Parents and families, you can help our students understand how to think through decisions – and that few choices are permanent!  You can help them understand that there are always outcomes of decisions – some are positive, some are negative, some are neutral.  And for the rest of their lives, they are going to have to make decisions where all the results will not be ideal.  They will have to prioritize their wants and try to get the most of what they want and (hopefully) the least of what they don’t want.

With decisions, there will always be compromises, and sacrifices, but also wins.  And as they learn that, the more comfortable they might be thinking ahead, planning, and making those choices with more confidence and realism about outcomes.

 

Sunny Monday

It’s a new week and a sunny one, and at last the weather is warm enough that you don’t need your heaviest winter coat.  After so much cold, it is a refreshing change to be able to skip wearing a scarf, or wear a fleece or a hoodie outside and not freeze.  I was walking across campus earlier today and if you move at a good clip, your winter coat alm0st feels too warm – but if you stop and let the wind get to you, you get cold again.

The Quad trees were littered with the remnants of a recent rolling – which I assume might have come after the men’s basketball victory over Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon.  There was a fairly steady breeze while I was up there, and the toilet paper was in a constant flutter.

Most of the students I observed on the Quad seemed pretty chipper for a Monday.  I could overhear several conversations by passersby and while I couldn’t hear the exact content, the tone seemed upbeat and happy.  I don’t know if that can be attributed to the fact that we are seeing some genuine sunlight and warmth after what felt like endless gray days, but that seems a reasonable enough explanation.  We are set to go back to very cold tomorrow with the chance of snow – though it looks like the worst of the snow will be east of us.  Take a look at the five day forecast.

In other news, Wake Forest got some nice exposure in The Wall Street Journal.  In an article entitled “Liberal Arts Salaries are a Marathon, Not A Sprint“, Wake Forest’s own Katherine Brooks, Executive Director of Personal and Career Development, is quoted.    It’s worth a read.

Here are a few shots of the Quad and the recent roll.

1 27 14 quad 2 1 27 14 quad 3 1 27 14 quad 1

Center for Global Programs and Studies

20080229harrison4762Today’s Daily Deac is a guest post from Kline Harrison, Associate Provost of Global Affairs.  Dr. Harrison is a wonderful person I’ve known for many years.  When I first came to Wake Forest, he was a very talented and popular professor in the undergraduate business program.  Throughout his time here, he has moved into the provost’s office and has been engaged in global affairs.  I am a huge advocate of students studying abroad, and there have been some fantastic and innovative approaches to study abroad locations and experiences (as well as on-campus international exposures for students who do not go abroad).   I am so pleased to have his thoughts today on the Center for Global Programs and Studies.  Great work is being done here on behalf of your students!

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Dear Parents and Families,

Some of you may have noticed the recent announcement on Inside WFU that Wake Forest’s Center for International Studies is now the Center for Global Programs and Studies and wondered why the name change and why now.

In today’s world, geographic boundaries are irrelevant. Our graduates, who will live in this global society, must bridge the cultural barriers that can create misperceptions and tensions among peoples and nations. Because of this critical need, Wake Forest is committed to developing deeper and more comprehensive opportunities for students to gain the necessary knowledge, attitudes and skills to act as effective citizens, whether or not they travel abroad.

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, launched recently by the State Department, is just one example of how the U.S. and other countries are looking to our young people to build bridges worldwide. The initiative seeks to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America to 100,000 and the number of Latin American students studying in the United States to 100,000 annually.

According the 2013 Global Employability Survey and University Ranking Study, employers named social skills, communication abilities and open-mindedness among the most important talents they are seeking in new hires — the very strengths developed through interaction with and appreciation for people from cultures and backgrounds different from our own.

Global mindset and intercultural appreciation are broad ideas. But, individuals develop specific skills when they meet and interact with others who are different from their friends and family — skills that are essential to a successful life, both professionally and personally. These include, embracing cultural differences, adjusting communication style according to the situation, and adapting to new situations without judgment, to name a few.

A defining characteristic of Wake Forest is its commitment to creating a pluralistic and inclusive environment for every member of the campus community. Changing the Center for International Studies to the Center for Global Programs and Studies reflects our broadening commitment to support students, faculty and staff in their efforts to become global citizens, when they go OUTBOUND to study or research abroad, when they come INBOUND as international students, scholars and colleagues, and while they are WITHIN BOUNDS on campus enriching their global mindsets.

Please take some time to explore the Center for Global Programs and Studies website to learn more about our Global Wake Forest. And feel free to contact the staff at the Center for Global Programs and Studies for more information.

The 5 Senses of North Dining Hall

I had a meeting in the North Dining Hall today, so I arrived a bit early and decided to peoplewatch in the seating area by Starbucks.  As we periodically do at the Daily Deac, here is a description of the time using the five senses.

I see…

  • Twelve or thirteen clusters of seating groups near the Starbucks.  It’s a mixture of a couple sofas,  big modern armchairs and larger tables, and leather round stools.  All but one seating area was occupied.
  • Of the students there, 4-5 of them had laptops open and were working on them.  One girl was simultaneously looking at her laptop and texting on her smartphone.
  • A group of students, mostly male, all in business suits.  They appeared to be prepping for either an interview or a group presentation.
  • TONS of boots on young women.  In fact, at one point I counted and of all the girls there (maybe 20), only 2 were not wearing boots.  And very tight pants, like riding breeches.
  • Lots of dark clothing – dark jeans, black coats, or dark greens and navies.  Finally a girl with a red coat comes in to break the monochromatic feel.
  • One young man walking outdoors (in the freezing cold) in a down puffer jacket and gym shorts.  (Why???)
  • Red cheeks as people come in from the cold.

I hear…

  • Mostly this is a quiet group.  Only one of the seated groups – a guy and a girl – are talking.  
  • The click of thick heeled boots on a girl as she walked across the floor.
  • Cellophane wrappers being opened.  That crinkly plastic sound.  It seems louder because everyone else is relatively quiet.
  • The voice of a girl who approached as I was taking notes.  She asked if I minded her joining my table (we had 3 seats).  I said yes, but that I would have someone else joining me shortly.  She said thanks and decided to get another seat with another person.
  • Paper Starbucks bags rattling as students open up their muffins or donuts.
  • A young woman describing a friend who had ordered a ridiculously complicated drink (“no water, no chai, no this, no that”)

I smell…

  • COLD air.  Very cold.
  • Not much else, surprisingly.  I had expected to smell the normal Starbucks smell of strong coffee, but there is not really any of that.  There are entrance doors from either end of the Starbucks area, and I suspect that the constant opening and closing of doors chases the smell out.
  • Every once and awhile, I get a strong whiff of vinegar.  No clue where that is coming from.

I feel…

  • COLD!  Every time the doors open from either side, it makes a wind tunnel.  The Starbucks baristas must be freezing.

I taste…

  •  My delicious coffee (thank you, baristas!)

There you have it, Deac families!  I was there from about 10:35 until my meeting at 11 am,  just long enough for a brief snapshot of the day.  And for what it is worth, I really like the North Dining Hall.  I ate at Bistro ’34 for the first time the other day and my food was delicious and perfectly cooked.  I also tried Hilltop Market and the wok/grille area was tasty.

Binge Thinking

binge thinkingBinge Thinking.  What a concept.

So often when you hear the word “binge” on a college campus it has negative connotations, but this week we are encouraging students to take part in Binge Thinking.

This exercise is part of what we call “Living Our Values” week.  There is a Living Our Values website, which says in part “Living Our Values is a weeklong celebration of individuality at Wake Forest, and how our collective values define the identity of both our school and community. In the classroom, on the field and in social situations, the way we carry ourselves speaks volumes. As a University, it is our priority to maintain a vibrant and safe campus community for all students that emphasizes inclusion, understanding and common sense.”

What you are seeing in the picture is the rotunda of the Benson University Center.  The words BINGE THINKING are spelled out in red solo cups, the unofficial cup of college parties and tailgates everywhere.

As the web site notes: “Alcohol-related incidents are a very real threat on many of our nation’s college campuses, and one that Wake Forest takes very seriously. Amidst a sea of messages encouraging sobriety and abstinence, the reality is that the students who want to drink are going to find ways to do so. Living Our Values is about self-respect, awareness and honoring the futures these students are working so hard to build.

In the spirit of Living Our Values, we have introduced Binge Thinking this year as a means of providing an interactive forum where students can express their individual values. By writing what they stand for on the ubiquitous red party cup and placing it alongside those of their classmates, students are celebrating what they stand for, and the idea that values are thicker than alcohol.”

So – have your students seen the Binge Thinking installation?  Have they put a message on one of the red solo cups?  As you speak to them this week, encourage them to give a thought to their personal values.  Who they are, what they believe in, which behaviors will help shape and form them as they move into adulthood.  Encourage your students to be intentional about their choices and actions.  Think actions through before taking them, and make sure their actions are consistent with their values and who they want to be (and of course, safety).

Urge them to think, too, about what kinds of values they hope the campus as a whole should share.  Wake Forest is a living, breathing entity full of 5,000ish students, faculty, and staff who are here every day.  Wake Forest people form the spirit of this place.   As the Living Our Values website says, “our collective values define the identity of both our school and community.”   Do your students think we are we the best we can be?  What role can they play in making us even better?

Food for thought, folks.

Winter Weather Today(?), Career Fair Tomorrow

Winter can sometimes be a crazy season in North Carolina.  Yesterday our low was around freezing and the high was 60 degrees.  Today there is a winter weather advisory.   As I was driving in this morning, I saw a young man walking to Farrell Hall in just a fleece jacket – which would have been fine had today’s weather been like yesterday’s.  But it is starting out cold today and is going to get colder as the day goes by.

From the Weather Channel’s forecast, it looks like we have a chance of a rain/snow mix during the midday, turning more to snow later in the evening.  But again, these things are not always easy to predict, so we’ll have to wait and see.   The extended forecast calls for several very cold days.

In the event there is bad weather, how are students notified of changes to the University’s schedule, you ask?  We notify in multiple ways (see the list here).   And if you just want to check in every now and again and see what the weather is doing, you can check out the Quad Cam.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, there is going to be a Career Fair in the Benson University Center tomorrow from 12:00-4:00 p.m.  A colleague of mine had emailed me about the Career Fair and said that this will be the first career fair where students can use the Wake Forest Career Fair + app  (links are on this website).  This is a really cool app, as it shows every recruiter coming , a brief description of the employer, and a map of the fair so students can plan out their visit to the fair.  It even has tips on how to dress the part and how to make a good first impression.  Your students can download the app and check it out.

 

 

 

 

End of Week One

It’s Friday and the end of the first week of classes.  For those young men going through fraternity recruitment, that process has also started.   Students will have this coming Monday off from class in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

However, urge your students not to make this a 3-day weekend without due thought and reflection.  The University is sponsoring a number of events around the MLK holiday, and any/all of them would be worthy of your students’ attendance:

So families, encourage your students to get involved and attend some of these events.  As we frequently say, Wake Forest is like a smorgasbord, and the more bites you take from the offerings, the richer your experience will be.

Finally, because it is Friday, we encourage you to reach out to your students with a phone call.  Past studies have shown that when students hear from family members on a Friday, they are less likely to engage in risky behavior that night.  We have a lot of new sorority pledges as well as young men going through recruitment.  Even if you don’t specifically talk to them about alcohol use, just having that touchpoint from home has an effect of making students take fewer risks.

So call now.  And always, always tell your kids you love and miss them.  Never hurts to hear that from those you love, does it?

Go Deacs!

For those of you who had TV coverage, strong stomachs, and didn’t mind a late game, you might have caught the Wake vs. NC State game last night.   It started at 9 pm and was one of those experiences where Deac fans were led up to the peak of the mountaintop, thrown down to the crevasse below, and then clawed back up to the top of the mountain at the last minute.

Euphoria, then heartbreak, then euphoria at the literal last seconds.

If you didn’t chew your fingernails to the quick, more power to you.  But our Deacs won, and there was jubilation and exhaustion.  I haven’t made it to the Quad this morning yet, but am told that it was in fact rolled, though perhaps not quite as thoroughly as some other games.  Proud of our team for hanging in there and bringing us a great home win.  GO DEACS!

A couple of other items worth mentioning today.  On the residence hall front, Residence Life and Housing has published its Room Thaw website (which is for students who wish to request room changes or swaps).  On the career front, there is a Career Fair next Wednesday, January 22nd.  Details are available on the Events Calendar.

Yesterday I checked out the new North Dining Hall.  I was in the main grill/wok/sandwich station and everything I tried was pretty tasty.  There was a good crowd of students trying the food, hanging out in the seating areas, and seeming to enjoy both.  It appeared to be more activity upstairs than downstairs by the Starbucks, at least during the time I was there.

And a final editoral note: basic human kindness and the Honor Code are alive and well.  While at North Dining Hall, I accidentally dropped an empty bowl of food and a very nice female student immediately hopped up to help me (I had my hands full).  Somewhere during my visit there, I dropped my debit card and didn’t realize until later I had lost it.  No idea whether it was a student or a staff member who found it, but they turned it in and I got it back from the very kind staffers working there.

Character counts.  Kindness counts.  Every day I hope our students are making good, ethical choices.   And I am grateful I could rely on the kindness of a few good Deacs when I needed it.

Spring Family Weekend

Registration for Spring Family Weekend (February 28-March 2) will go live at 10 am this morning.  This is a wonderful opportunity to come and see your students, do some fun campus events (and of course treat your Deacs to a nice dinner or two and give them some mid-semester TLC).  You can see the schedule of events here.  And as of 10 am, you can go to the main page and look for the Registration link and sign your family up for any activities you want.

Our Parent Programs office has been getting some parent questions about “When is Family Weekend [fall]?”  The short answer is:  we don’t have one yet.  The date for Fall Family Weekend 2014 gets chosen after the football schedule is released, which is normally in late January.  We wait on the release of the football schedule because Family Weekend is typically held during a home football game weekend.

Once we know the football schedule, we then have to review the available home games to look for the ideal date.  We can’t select a weekend that is too close to move-in weekend or fall break, we ideally don’t want to select a holiday or religious observance if we can help it, and we need to find a weekend where there are hotels available.  We cannot typically hold it during High Point’s Furniture Market.  (For those of you who are not familiar, High Point is one of the furniture capitals of the world, and twice a year Furniture Market is held and it will take every hotel within the greater Piedmont Triad area.)

All this by way of saying there are a lot of moving pieces to selecting the fall Family Weekend date.  Please know that as soon as we have the football schedule, can check the calendar for conflicts, etc., we’ll post the final date on the main Parents’ Page.

Today is Day 2 of the new semester, so students are getting to experience their first class in their Monday/Wednesday/Friday class cycle.  For any students who are struggling to complete their spring semester schedule, they should make an appointment in the Office of Academic Advising to speak to one of the professional academic counselors there.  There is also a handy dandy Open Course Report link on the Advising main page (which shows courses that have openings remaining).  Note that the OCR is as good as the moment it was pulled and posted, so if there are a lot of intrepid students who jumped into open seats early, some classes might already be gone.  However, they do post the OCR pretty regularly during the first week of class, so students can check back as needed.

News from Campus

There was a lot of news and activity on campus yesterday, coming from various fronts.   One of the big pieces of news was that the dean of the School of Business, Steve Reinemund, announced his resignation at the end of June of this year.   President Hatch sent a message to the campus community about Dean Reinemund’s retirement this morning; this message also talked about several other key University positions of leadership and projects (read Dr. Hatch’s full message).

dining commons 6Yesterday afternoon was an open house for the new North Dining Hall, which is located on the north side of campus near the new Magnolia and Dogwood residence halls.  They were giving some administrative offices a chance for a sneak peek at the new facility and some samples of the food there.

dining commons 7Your Deacs will not be disappointed.  This is a lovely, inviting space.   It is a two-story facility, with a full service Starbucks on the ground floor and a very large grab-and-go type marketplace there.  The grab-and-go place has a lot of the things you’d expect (sodas, granola bars, “boxed” meals like mac and cheese,  dairy products etc.) but also has eggs, loaves of bread, and a nice fresh fruit bin with a good selection.   There is also a nice seating area with lots of windows, some flat screen TVs, and is decorated in inviting shades of gold and brown and black.

dining commons 2When you head to the upper level, there are two main dining areas.  There is an open area that has a grill section, a wok section, a deli/sandwiches section.  As with the Pit, the foods are being prepared right there in front of you so they are nice and hot.  There is also a very appealing table service restaurant called Bistro ’34.  It looks like a nice restaurant – fancier in decor than Shorty’s in the Benson Center.  I tried one of the Bistro ’34 Southwestern Egg Rolls and it was really tasty.

dining commons 3On the upper level are also a wide variety of seating areas and lots of windows looking out toward Farrell and the new residence halls.  There are nooks for student backpacks and bags (so students can be free to carry dishes to their seating spot).  I liked the lighting too – it seemed warm and inviting and different – a lot of low wattage light bulbs hanging down, which was a nice effect.  Like Zicks, I predict this is going to be a popular space and well liked by students.   It opens today and I hope they try it!  Here is the January Dining Update from Dining Services/ARAMARK.

dining commons v2 2 dining commons v2 dining commons v3 dining commons v4As I was leaving the open house at North Dining Hall, loud screams and cheers were wafting over the north side of campus coming from the Quad.  Bid Day was yesterday for sororities, and in past years at least what that has entailed is a lot of hugging and cheering and embracing of the new sisters, and then they run a lap around the Quad.  Since I was too far away, I didn’t see any of it, but if things hold to past tradition that might well have been taking place.

That’s the news of yesterday, which brings us up today.  Classes have started, so we are once again seeing a campus full of students with books and backpacks and messenger bags and laptops.  And for those who are making their way back as regulars in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, they will notice a brand new floor in the atrium.

It’s a new day and a new semester.  Let’s all make the most of it!

PS - These Dining Commons pictures were hastily taken on my iPhone – so apologies for the quality.