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.”
A 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.