This week’s message for first year parents was written by Intern E (’12) of the Parent Programs office.
By now your pre-move in stress has finally been relieved, and you have probably switched your focus to wondering what the next weeks entail for your new college student. The transition from high school to college may be overwhelming at first, but you will find that both Wake Forest and Winston-Salem will quickly grow to become a home for your student over the next four years.
The Orientation program at Wake Forest is informative, but better yet it is a stress-free week to become acquainted with the Wake Forest community. I fell in love with Wake Forest the second day of orientation. I knew that my school was special when I checked my email and found that my faculty advisor had invited my group to dinner in his home. Whether your student receives a welcoming email, or meets a friend from a faraway place, he/she will find that Wake Forest has much to offer beyond prestigious academics. Over the next few weeks, your student will discover that Winston-Salem is a great place to live, filled with beautiful magnolia trees, active college students, and delicious dining.
So I’m offering you my short list of my favorite activities and dining, both on and off campus. My favorites are possibilities for your student to peruse during the adjustment period, but also activities for you to check out when you are in town.
First, encourage your student to take advantage of campus activities and dorm life. As I am sitting here on the benches on the Magnolia Quad, I’ve seen roller bladders, sunbathers, and people with their dogs. One of the best things about Wake Forest is that when the weather is warm, students will sunbathe on the roof of Babcock, play Frisbee on the Quad, and enjoy a meal outside in the sun.
For on campus dining, Shorty’s, Wake Forest’s on-campus full service restaurant, is a replica of the original restaurant in the University’s first home in Wake Forest, North Carolina. It has big screen TVs, an expansive lunch and dinner menu, local Foothills beer on-tap for students of age (or visiting parents), and tables covered with scrapbook pictures from Wake Forest’s past. Best of all, they take Deacon Dollars.
On nice days, I love to take a walk through Reynolda Gardens, and I almost always pass a fellow Wake Forest student. Reynolda Gardens has a greenhouse where you can purchase flowers raised by Wake Forest botanists, and Reynolda House is a nationally recognized museum where art shows and exhibits take place. The trails continue past the historic Lake Katherine, where your surroundings feel more like a forest than that of a college campus. Eventually, the path leads to a community of shopping and dining. My personal favorites include Simply Yummy and The Village Tavern. Both are reasonably priced, include outside seating, and have calm, family-friendly environments. Simply Yummy is on the less expensive end of the spectrum, and is only open for breakfast and lunch. Many students enjoy taking an afternoon walk to Simply Yummy for coffee. Village Tavern is one of the most well known restaurants in the area due to its good food and location. It draws a large crowd on Family Weekend, and I would highly recommend tasting the range of salads, pizzas, and pastas the restaurant has to offer just a mile from campus.
As the year progresses and football season commences, many students find Putters as a favorite off campus destination. I’ve enjoyed many meals with friends and family before sporting events because it is located across from BB&T Field and the Joel Coliseum. The environment is welcoming, college-friendly, and a must-try in the area. The food ranges from traditional bar food, to salads and steaks. College students love to hit up this local favorite to get in spirit to support the Deacs!
Just under a thirty-minute drive from campus, I have escaped on day trips to both Belews Creek Lake and to Pilot Mountain. Belews Creek is actually heated by a power plant which redistributes the warmed water into the lake, making it the perfect destination for camping, swimming, and renting canoes. Pilot Mountain is one of the area’s most distinctive landmarks. In the sixties, the mountain became part of the North Carolina State park system, consisting of 3,703 acres of land. The top pinnacles are surrounded by hiking and driving trails that have the best views in the area.
I have come to love everything about Wake Forest and Winston-Salem. I am certain that regardless of the activities your son or daughter adds to their short list of favorites, they will quickly share my affinity for this great college community. The best advice you can give your son or daughter as new Wake Forest student is to take advantage of all the options that Wake Forest and Winston-Salem offer and discover the things that will make this place feel like home for the next four years.