Letters So Dear

I have had a couple of questions in the past day or two about registration and scheduling, often saying that classes I/my student wants or needs are not available. Typically these are for first-year students or sophomores who are trying to get basic or divisional requirements.

I took a quick look online at some of the usual suspect classes that students might need, and it appears that there are still seats in a number of frequently-needed classes. Note that these classes might be earlier than your student wants (amazing how 8 am classes rarely fill up first ;)) or they might be with a different professor than students might think they want. Here are some that appear to be open as of lunchtime today:

ART 114, 115, 203; ANT 114; BIO 114; CHM 111 and 122; ECN 150; FYS 100; MST 109 and 111; MUS 101; PHI 115; PHY 110; PSY 151; REL 103, 111, 113; SOC 154. If your Deacs are looking for divisional requirements, encourage them to investigate these.

Yesterday our first-year students received another issue of Letters So Dear, which are letters from upperclass students about the transition to college. I had just had a conversation with a first-year family about some of the challenges that it is normal to have during the first semester (even first year) of college – and then this showed up in my inbox. Today’s letter captures some of those challenges beautifully and so authentically. Hope you enjoy. You can read previous Letters So Dear here.

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Today, our “Letters So Dear” series continues with a message from senior Riley Mistrot:

“Hello, and welcome to the Forest!  Regardless of the mix of emotions you are feeling now, you have embarked on an unparalleled journey of self-exploration and personal growth, and I am so excited for you! At the outset of your odyssey, I thought it might be helpful to share a few things I’ve learned along the way that I wish I’d known during my first few months on campus.

First, the college transition is REALLY hard!  Own it, and know that you are entitled to any emotion or range of emotions as you seek to figure out and navigate this new space and your role in it.

Second, it’s hard for everyone!  Regardless of the flurry of social media posts from your high school friends or your new hall mates regaling their adventures at “#college” with their “new squad,” they are just as apprehensive and homesick as you are, which brings me to my third point.

It gets better!  Through the sheer passage of time, you will start to acclimate to your new environment, new living arrangements, new classes, new friends, new social pressures, etc.  I know it sounds hard, but take a moment to revel in and reflect on your initial discomfort, and trust that it gives way to some of the most exponential personal growth you will experience in your life.

A few specific items of note.  Sharing a room, potentially for the first time, is a difficult adjustment for most people, and it’s okay if your roommate isn’t your best friend. If you strive for what my advisor calls “peaceable coexistence” and use mutual respect as a baseline, you’ll be just fine.

Also, though it’s tempting to think that everything will change in your absence, your life back home continues to exist as you knew it.  Adjusting to college is not a zero-sum game, and I think you’ll find that, like the Grinch, your heart grows three sizes bigger and your capacity for love expands.  You’ll go from loving one family, friend group, and life to loving two or maybe more, depending on where Wake takes you. That’s pretty great, if you ask me!

The good news is that your transition is in your control. Amidst so much change, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but our 2018 Commencement speaker, Carla Harris, would tell you, “You must be intentional about being in the driver’s seat of your life.”  Join clubs and organizations, raise your hand in class, and make plans with people on your hall. I fully appreciate that those may seem like monumental tasks during a vulnerable time, but you will be surprised how positively people respond.  Remember that everyone else is trying to find their community, too! The more you put yourself out there, the faster you will integrate.

Finally, you are not alone.  There is a whole community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who want to see you succeed and are here to help.  Take advantage of the resources and the opportunities afforded to you as a Wake Forest student. I leave you with a quote from famed Wake Forest professor and author, Maya Angelou, which has guided my experience and intentions since it was first shared with me as a first-year student.

“You will be surprised that these years of
Sleepless nights and months of uneasy
Days will be rolled into
An altering event called the
‘Good old days.’ And you will not
Be able to visit them even with an invitation
Since that is so you must face your presence.
You are prepared
Go out and transform your world.”

With the love and support of your Wake Forest family,
Riley Mistrot, Class of 2019

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Wishing your Deacs safe travels home for Thanksgiving. And for those whose Deacs are staying on campus, please know that the Office of Family Engagement will be closed Weds-Friday (and the university will be closed Thurs-Fri). If you have an urgent need to reach someone at the university after hours because you have a concern that must be addressed quickly, we have designated the University Police as our 24/7 contact.  They can assess the situation and determine who best to address your concern. The 24-hour contact number for University Police is 336.758.5591 for non-emergencies or 336.758.5911 for emergencies.  They can get in touch with on-call duty staff 24-hours/day/365 days a year.

— by Betsy Chapman ’92, MA ’94

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