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To the Seniors, to Make Much of Time

4 25 16 webcamIt’s 1:40 pm and this is the view from the Quad Cam.  Grass so green, sky so blue, clouds so white.

You can see from the stripes in the grass that they have been mowing.  The Quad grass gets a lot of extra attention in the weeks leading up to Commencement.  You can see the Quad in this picture, all open and pretty – but in just a few short weeks there will be a grand stage and 10-12,000 chairs laid out in perfectly straight rows. The grass, right now so lush, will be ground down a bit from everyone walking in the aisles between the seats.

On a day like today – when it is sunny and low 80s – your Deacs ought to get out on the Quad, take their shoes off, and have a really nice stroll in the grass.  It is like a soft, velvety carpet and feels great against your feet.

For those who are seniors, and who will soon miss this place, I would urge them to drink in as many of those experiences as they can.  Sit on the balcony of Reynolda facing the chapel and watch the sun set.  Walk in the Quad grass.  Take a blanket out to Davis Field and just lay there and look up at the sky – or go swing on the swings.

I was an English major.  A little bit of Robert Herrick’s classic seems appropriate for this theme:

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
  Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
  To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,          5
  The higher he ‘s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
  And nearer he ‘s to setting.
— by Betsy Chapman


Go Deacs!

After the high of Campus Day and seeing all those smiling faces of new Deacs and new P’20s (parents/families of the new Class of 2020), we had some additional awesome this weekend.

First, the men’s tennis team took the ACC Championship!  It’s our first ACC Championship in men’s tennis, and you can see a great celebratory video here.  The Deacs came in 2nd in men’s golf at their ACC Championship.

In other athletic news, our baseball Deacs keep cruising, shutting out UNC over the weekend.

Classes end this Wednesday. You know what that means: stressing over final projects/papers and then final exams.  I’m in a class and in the thick of it myself, so I have the utmost appreciation for what your kids are going through.  Tough to keep the nose to the grindstone when the weather is sunny and 80 and you just want to be outside.

So to help your Deacs feel that sense of “I can do it!” as finals approaches, consider sending them a Deacon Greeting.  A little e-card from mom or dad or a loved one might be the thing that makes their day a little better.  A care package wouldn’t be the wrong answer, either 🙂

— by Betsy Chapman

5 Senses of Campus Day

Today is the second (and final) Campus Day for Accepted Students.  I have been perched in Zick’s all morning because it is raining.  Had Campus Day been *any other day* this week, the weather would have been beautiful.  We got a bad roll of the dice today.

So here are your Five Senses of the Start of Campus Day

I see…

A rain that is sometimes steady, sometimes pelting, sometimes just a misty sprinkle.

Lots of umbrellas.

Some parents that seem to be scrambling for umbrellas.  I predict the Deacon Shop will do a lot of business today.

A couple of really killer sets of rain boots on some very stylish moms.

Flat hair or frizzy hair – you fall into one camp or another.

Smiles on a lot of the students’ faces, tinged with a hint of anxiety.  Choosing a college is hard, and this is a big transition.  It’s a mix of feelings.

Lots of people coming in to Zick’s scrambling for hot coffee.

tableMany friendly parents and families coming up to our Parent Programs table to chat.  We met families from GA, FL, NY, NC, PA and some others.

An intermittent strobe light looking thing – which turns out to be my friend Ken Bennett taking pictures of a student outside Zick’s.  The flash is coming through the window.

One of the large TVs in Zick’s showing images of Prince singing.  (RIP Prince, you were a big part of my late high school/early college years). Sadly that TV is on mute.

Very few current students at this hour.  The ones in the Quad residence halls must be sleeping in or don’t have 8 am classes.


I hear…

Squeaky shoes as the wet soles hit the wood floor of Zicks.

The plastic coffee lids being snapped on the cups.

The sloosh sloosh of the coffee being poured out of the dispenser.

NBC Sports Network is on one of the big TVs in Zicks, so if you listen in a given moment you can hear the talking heads dissect the sports issues of the day.

The kitchen of Zicks is banging pots and pans and silverware around in the distance, presumably prepping for lunch.

Pride in parents/families’ voices as they tell me about their student.  Part of that is pride in their kid, and part of that is pride in being accepted at Wake.


I feel…

Cold and damp, as I am sure all the other parents do.

The wet of my shoes.

Warm hot coffee as I take a sip, happily warming me from the inside.

Blasts of cold air as the doors open or close.

A sense of calm when the bulk of the parents and students go to Wait Chapel to start the program.  We’ll hopefully see them back during the break between this session and the next one.

The comfortable chair I am sitting in.


I taste…

Coffee, which is much needed.

A delicious Krispy Kreme, a staple of Campus Day. (THANK YOU, ADMISSIONS!)


I smell is pretty much covered by three things: coffee, donuts, and rain.  All told, that is not a bad combo.


So that’s your early 5 Senses of Campus Day.  Enjoy your weekend, Deac families.  Call your kids today 🙂


— by Betsy Chapman

A Very Funny (and Famous) WF Grad Tonight

Your students are probably aware of, a website filled with college-appropriate humor (read: some adults might find some of the jokes offensive, but typically the humor kills with the 18-24 year old set).

They may not have known that a Wake grad was co-founder of  Tonight they have a chance to hear from him.  The Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship is sponsoring a talk with him.  See the details below.


A Talk with Alum Ricky Van Veen, Co-Founder of CollegeHumor, Vimeo, and BustedTees

On Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 5:30 pm, Ricky Van Veen will be on campus for a fireside chat with Provost Kersh! The talk, followed by the ICE Awards, will be in the Broyhill Auditorium in Farrell Hall. 

While working on his Information Systems degree as an undergraduate at Wake Forest University, Ricky Van Veen co-founded CollegeHumor in 1999. Since then, CollegeHumor has exploded into the largest comedy property on the internet and the most viewed comedy channel on YouTube. He is a pioneer in digital content development, production, and marketing, as well as brand management. 

— by Betsy Chapman

Wednesday Witticisms

Classes end in 7 days, and students are feeling it.  So for today’s Daily Deac, a few memes about college, replete with some pop culture references.  You can hang onto these and bit by bit send them to your students if you think they need a laugh.

4 20 16 finals meme pI feel their pain; I am taking a research methods class too and I have a fresh appreciation of how taxed students feel at the end of the semester.  This one (a joke about statistical significance) speaks to me – but then again I am a giant, giant nerd 🙂

The rest are below.

— by Betsy Chapman


4 20 16 finals meme 7 4 20 16 finals meme 6 4 20 16 finals meme 5 4 20 16 finals meme 4 4 20 16 finals meme 3 4 20 16 finals meme 2 4 20 16 finals meme 1


For Those Sweating Major Choice

A common theme that I have heard from some of the freshmen I meet is “I have no idea what I want to major in and I am freaking out about it.”  They feel pressure that they should know (but don’t), they are dreading you asking what they want to major in, and knowing that they will come home for the summer soon is heightening that anxiety.  So a few thoughts on this.

Don’t ask, don’t tell.  By this I mean, don’t ask your Deac and put him or her on the spot.  Instead, you can ask things like ‘which of your classes have you liked the most?’ and ask your Deac to elaborate on what made that good.  Don’t suggest majors you think your son/daughter might like.  Maybe turn that around a little and say ‘what have you ruled out? as in ‘no way would I ever consider a major in X!’

Frequently I find that students gravitate to a specific Division in our curriculum:

Humanities (history, religion, philosophy)

Literature (english, classics, foreign literature in translation.)

Arts (music, theatre, dance, art)

Social Sciences (anthropology, communication, education, economics, politics and international affairs, psychology, sociology)

Math and Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer science)

So even if they can narrow down to a Division they like (or one they can eliminate) that gets them a step closer.

I always encourage students to look at the Undergraduate Bulletin for potential majors to see what the specific requirements are for that major. Read course descriptions of required classes and see if they could see themselves taking those classes.  BUT, understand that there is likely no major that will have 100% of what a student likes, and so it might require a class in X or Y that must be slogged through.  (It happened to me).

Freshmen can sample courses in potential departments this fall or next spring.  By then, they will most likely have a good sense of what appeals to them.  There are also some great ‘explore a major‘ resources on the OPCD website they can review this summer.

Important note: let your kids be the ones to explore the Undergraduate Bulletin and the OPCD website – don’t help them with it.  They need to own this research independently 🙂

Just a few thoughts for those of you getting ready to welcome ’19s back home.

— by Betsy Chapman






Commencement Speaker!

Big news on this Black and Gold Friday, Deac families, and especially the P’16s.  We have announced our Commencement speaker:

“Eboo Patel, a leading voice for interfaith cooperation and the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), will deliver Wake Forest University’s commencement address on Monday, May 16.

“Eboo Patel is recognized around the world for bridging divisions among people of different faiths,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch. “At a time when so much global conflict is rooted in religious difference and the need for interfaith cooperation is so great, I am pleased he will be Wake Forest’s commencement speaker.”

He has spoken at Wake Forest before, and he is good.  I think he will give a memorable speech.

“Also joining Wake Forest for the commencement weekend will be Baccalaureate speaker: The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes, president and professor of pastoral ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary.

“Rev. Barnes’ ministry, writing and academic leadership reflect his thoughtful and widely informed approach to religious ministry and theological formation that is well suited to changing times,” Hatch said. “He has superbly led large urban congregations and is a wonderful communicator, deeply human and hopeful in his approach and his words.”

One of my dear friends used to belong to Craig Barnes’ church and said he was “one of my favorite people in the whole world.”  Again, I anticipate a great sermon from him.

When I think back to my own Commencement from Wake (speaker: Tom Clancy) to the 15 I have attended as a staff member, I have been surprised and delighted by the unexpectedly amazing speeches.  The speeches that I thought had the most gravitas and wisdom haven’t always come from the people with the most famous names.  I won’t kiss and tell on that either 🙂

— by Betsy Chapman



Feast Your Eyes

It is arguably the prettiest time of year on campus right now. Tons and tons of tulips popping up in flower beds (and red, my favorite!), the trees are flowering, and Mother So Dear is looking *fabulous*.

Had an impromptu visit from some students, which was a delightful break in my day. Asked them what the temperature was on campus re: stress level and the looming end of the semester.  From their vantagepoint, it sounds like the end-of-semester pinch has started in earnest. Lots of late nights for people working on projects.

Our time together reminded me how it is good to take a break from work every now and again – whether that is a conversation with a friend(s), a walk to find the best of the blooming tulips, or just to have a few mindful moments to make your day better.

Enjoy a look at some of the sights your Deacs are seeing, courtesy of all-around-awesome Ken Bennett.

— by Betsy Chapman
A student walks past the arch on Hearn Plaza on the campus of Wake Forest University on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

A student walks past the arch on Hearn Plaza

Tulips bloom in front of Wait Chapel at dawn on the campus of Wake Forest University on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

Tulips bloom in front of Wait Chapel at dawn

Dogwoods frame Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

Dogwoods frame Wait Chapel

Dogwood trees frame an arch on Hearn Plaza as a student walks past on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Dogwood trees frame an arch on Hearn Plaza

Tulips frame the new Health and Exercise Science addition to the Worrell Professional Center on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Tulips frame the new Health and Exercise Science addition to the Worrell Professional Center

Tulips bloom outside Alumni Hall on the campus of Wake Forest University on Monday, April 4, 2016.

Tulips bloom outside Alumni Hall

Seen and Heard – and a Preview of Coming Attractions

Here’s a “minute from Wake Forest” today.

4 13 16 14 13 16 3It was a chilly morning, so I was hoofing it as fast as I could across the Quad to Reynolda, where I had a meeting.  As I scurried by, I saw all these tags hanging from the trees.  They are factoids leading up to Arbor Day. More about that below:

“D.E.S.K. has been rescheduled to 3:00-6:00 pm April 19. This coincides with the campus Arbor Day Celebration from 4:006:00 pm. Please help us communicate to students that they are invited to attend the Arbor Day Celebration for any portion of time, before or after participating in D.E.S.K.

All Arbor Day volunteers earn a coveted Earth Month t-shirt and a grassfed-beef burger cookout at the end of the event. We have amended the Arbor Day sign-up sheet to include a column asking students to identify whether or not they intend to stay for dinner; we don’t want to prepare food for students who are unable to stay.

4 13 16 64 13 16 2The student organization and residence hall with the highest percentage of participation will earn $50 in their account. The sorority and fraternity with the highest percentage of participation will receive a letter to their national organizations.  All students and staff members should sign up here.”

I also saw two students walking – a good looking boy and a pretty girl.  The girl looked like she was going to cut across the Quad grass and walk there instead of on the sidewalk.  Her guy friend took her by the arm and said “no no no no no – you can’t do that! They work too hard keeping the grass looking like that, you can’t walk on the grass.”  This young man is too young to have known Dr. Smiley, but in my time he was famous for telling you “the grass cries” when you walk on it.  Dr. Smiley would’ve been proud of this young man.

4 13 16 54 13 16 4Once in Reynolda, I saw these flyers – one for the Riverrun film festival (still going on this weekend, I believe) and also some info on online classes.

Finally, I got word of an event tomorrow on NPR you parents and family members might want to tune in to.  Our own Andy Chan will be on the Diane Rehm show on NPR.  Here’s more:

Andy Chan, vice president of personal and career development, will participate in a live discussion on “The Diane Rehm Show” on navigating the transition from school to the workplace. The show will air Thursday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to noon. Listeners can join the live program on “The Diane Rehm Show” website. The discussion will also be archived and available to listeners after the program.

With graduation season just around the corner, students throughout the country are preparing to transition into the workplace. Chan will join a panel of experts who will be looking at the challenges new grads face and how to address them.  Other guests include:

  • Jeffrey Selingo regular contributor on higher education, the Washington Post; author, “There is Life After College: What Parents And Students Should Know About Navigating School To Prepare For The Jobs Of Tomorrow”
  • Anthony Carnevale director and research professor, Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University
  • Kristen Hamilton CEO and co-founder, Koru — a company offering immersive training programs to get college graduates job ready

As a national leader in rethinking the college to career experience, Wake Forest has been at the forefront of transforming the traditional, outdated concept of “career services” into a holistic, four-year approach to personal and career development. Ever since Wake Forest convened Rethinking Success, a 2012 conference that highlighted the value of a liberal arts education for 21st Century careers, the University – as well as its career and mentoring experts – have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Today, Money, Business Insider, Fast Company, Forbes, CNN and USA Today as well as higher education publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

“The Diane Rehm Show” is a National Public Radio call-in-show based in the United States. In October 2007, “The Diane Rehm Show” was named to the Audience Research Analysis list of the top ten most powerful national programs in public radio, the only talk show on the list. The show, produced by WAMU, and hosted by Diane Rehm, is estimated to have more than 2 million listeners.

— by Betsy Chapman



Student Problem-Solving

I am doing a talk tomorrow with some parents of high school seniors. In prepping for that, I was trying to think of some of the most critical pieces of advice – and I came back to the idea of letting go, and letting students learn problem-solving skills.  Students do that best, of course, when they do that independently.

We all know as adults that life throws us curve balls, challenges, losses, and disappointments. Part of the key to building resiliency is how we handle those moments when they happen.

For college students, a challenging situation could be a bad grade/a difficult course, not getting into the student organization of choice/not getting a leadership position they had hoped for, not getting into a particular class during registration or not getting their ideal choice of roommate or residence hall.  The list goes on.

I’m a mom myself (P’27 hopeful), and I know how awful it is when your child is upset about something. And sometimes I have to sit on my hands to not reach out and fix it for ’27. I suspect many of you do the same.

At times like those when you have a student upset about something life has handed him or her, I hope it might be helpful to remember our tried and true saying in the Parent Programs office – Stop, Drop, and Roll.  (You may recall the Stop, Drop and Roll Student Problem-Solving flyer).  Here’s the gist of it:

If your student calls you with a complaint, disappointment, or problem, rather than jump right into FIX IT! Mode, do this instead:

Stop and take a deep breath when your student contacts you in a flutter.  Is their situation 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?  If it is a disappointment and there is not a fix, you can listen and respond with empathy, maybe even share a time you were disappointed. It is hard not to get what we want, but it is also real life to have to deal with disappointments.  Better to learn how to handle disappointment now, and in a healthy way, than have the first big disappointment come at your student’s first job where the stakes are that much higher.

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!  I know, I know, easy to say, 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.  Overcoming disappointment this time makes the next time easier to bear.

While as parents we hate to see our kids unhappy or struggling through a problem, there are some benefits to learning to handle what life throws at you.  Think back to a time when you were 18 or 19 and had an issue or a disappointment in front of you.  If you managed to solve a problem on your own, did you feel like you accomplished something big?  Did you feel stronger? more independent? capable? proud?  If you rebounded after a disappointment, did you find that a few days or weeks down the line, it really wasn’t as big a deal as it seemed at the time? Having space to process disappointment often brings perspective.

So when you get that frantic email/phone call/text/IM, sit on your hands 🙂  As adults, you know how to problem-solve, and you know how to keep disappointment in perspective.  It’s your students time to flex those problem-solving or emotional muscles so they can grow strong.

And that’s [part] of what I will tell my high school parents tomorrow.

— by Betsy Chapman