ABCs of the new semester

One more pre-post, and then we should be back to live Daily Deacs tomorrow. As we start the new semester, thought it might be fun to look at it via the old ABCs. These suggestions are for you, Deac families.

Always ask yourself “What is my student learning?” before you intervene when they have a problem.

Be a safe place your Deac can confide in.

Call your own parents/families on Friday afternoons (our parents need love and connection too!)

Discuss with your student a time you struggled or failed. Students need to understand that we all fail from time to time and we learn from failure.

Expect the unexpected.

Fill them in on how things are going at home (they may be especially concerned about health matters with you/grandparents, how siblings are doing, how their beloved pet is, etc.)

Graciously welcome your student’s friends home on breaks.

Help your student keep perspective when they have problems. Reassure them that problems are temporary.

Include their roommate/friend in meals or plans when you make a visit to campus. Every student loves to see their friends’ families.

Jump in to help only after your Deac has exhausted their own solutions (or if it is an exceptionally serious life and health kind of thing).

Keep reminding your student that they don’t have to have it all figured out at 18, 19, 20, or 21.

Let your Deac choose their major, classes, etc. independently. Students need to own their choices.

Manage your own anxiety about your Deac’s discomfort. It is normal for them to go through stressors, pressure, and disappointments. We need to let them feel those feelings and work through them (independently).

Never contact your student’s faculty. Never, ever, ever.

Open your mind to the possibility that even if you think your Deac is handling something wrong, their way might be best for them.

Pay it forward and help mentor someone you know (personally or professionally).

Question – rather than direct – when your Deac asks for help. Questions like “What have you considered? Where might you go on campus for help?” etc., can help nudge them to think through options (vs. you providing answers)

Resist the temptation to use “we” when referring to your student’s college experiences (“we are trying to register for classes,” “we were really hoping to get a single room,” etc. College should be a singular experience for your Deac. Using “my student” helps keep necessary boundaries.

Spend time with your Deac’s friends. Get to know them. They are your student’s support during the semester.

Think before you speak. Once said, never unsaid.

Uplift your student when they need a boost – but give them space for independence.

Visualize your Deac’s potential successes (and try not to worry about what might go wrong).

Work with your company’s HR department (if possible) to be sure they are considering Wake students for internships and jobs after graduation.

OK y’all, I tried, but could not come up with great action words starting with X or Z, so we will end with the Ws. I welcome your suggestions if I missed something obvious 🙂


— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

Categories: the daily deac

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