A few thoughts on academics from an adviser

UPDATED JUNE 20TH: the Daily Deac below was written days ago, before we got the tragic news of the death of Zachary Zhang (see news release here). Please join me in offering your thoughts and prayers to Zachary’s family, friends, and loved ones. 

Today I am on a plane home from a New Student Reception, so this is a pre-post.

For our P’22 families, you should know that every new student at Wake Forest is issued an academic adviser to help them learn how to navigate course requirements and understand how to proceed with course selection for the first two years before they declare a major.  Normally academic advisers are faculty members, but sometimes they are Wake Forest staff members; often the staff academic advisers are also Wake Forest alumni.  New students also have a student adviser, an upperclass peer. Advising groups of 10 first year students, the academic adviser, and the student adviser do a lot of activities together the first few days on campus.

When your Deacs get to campus for Orientation in August, they will have a group meeting with their academic adviser and their student adviser. This is a time for the academic adviser and student adviser to get to know their advisees and make connections, help them feel comfortable, and talk about the curriculum requirements. New students will also have a one-on-one meeting with their adviser to review their fall schedule, ask questions, etc.

One of the things I always tell my new advisees is that they are at the very beginning of their academic career, and there are lots of basic and divisional requirements they need to fulfill. With a few exceptions for specific majors, there is not an absolute path or progression they must take. Rather, as long as they are selecting courses that fulfill basic or divisional requirements (or elective classes they just have an interest in), they will be moving steadily toward their degree. I also tell them to try to ease in to their coursework, taking at least 1-2 classes in areas where they are academically strong. This helps build their confidence as they adjust to college level work.

Advising works best when students avail themselves of many resources – their assigned adviser and student adviser are great places to start, but new students should also feel free to talk to faculty in departments that interest them, and get advice from the Office of Academic Advising, which has professional counselors, attend departmental open houses during Orientation, and more.

And as a reminder, if you are a P’22 and have not checked out the Advice for New Families page, please do. There is a whole section about academics and registration that I hope will be helpful:

Course registration advice — the New Students website has specifics about curriculum requirements as well as the advising process and planning for course registration.  Also see One Adviser’s Advice On A Typical First Semester Schedule. Students can also have a phone advising session in June.