Suggestions for the summer

Now that the 2019-20 academic year is officially over, it is a good time to encourage your Deacs to take a breath, celebrate their successes, and recharge their batteries. Once they have had a chance to relax a little bit, you might find that summer is a good time for your students do some self-work.

For our P’20s in the Daily Deacdom, you might encourage your newly-minted young alumni to get a copy of Five for Your First Five, which is a book that the OPCD’s own Dr. Allison McWilliams wrote to help young alumni reflect on their lives, career paths, and the choices they make along the way. Being purposeful and intentional in your choices can make a big difference in outcomes.

For our P’21s, ’22s, and ’23s, your Deacs might benefit from reflecting on the academic year (or even just the spring semester). You could ask them targeted questions such as:

  • Where did you experience the most growth this past year?
  • What situation do you wish you had handled differently, and why?
  • When were you the happiest? What do you think made that such an enjoyable experience?
  • What did you think you would enjoy – but did not? Why do you think that was? (And/or ask the reverse – what did you think you’d hate but end up liking, and why?)
  • What did you do that stretched your boundaries/got you out of your comfort zone?
  • What was this year’s greatest lesson?

Your Deacs may not want to do this as a dialogue with you, but you still can prompt them to reflect on their own. The more they can think about what they liked and did not, etc., the more data they will have about themselves that can help them make choices and decisions going forward.

For our P’24s, one of the greatest gifts you can give your incoming students is the gift of experience. In just a few short months, your students will be on their own and independent. They will be making 100% of their choices and will be expected to take care of business on their own. Help them gain that experience by putting them in charge of everyday things, such as;

  • If your Deac is not already doing their own laundry, put them in charge of doing the laundry for all the family for a week.
  • Have your student be the one to set up medical appointments (such as physical exams/check ups) and calling in prescriptions. Don’t do it for them. This includes them looking up their doctor’s name and phone number, calling and making the appointment, locating the insurance card, etc.
  • Put your student in charge of buying groceries for the house for a week. No list from you – have your student do all the reconnaissance for what is necessary (food, drinks, household staples like paper towels and toilet paper, medicine, etc.)
  • Charge your student with finding a local dentist in Winston-Salem, or a mechanic/auto shop, or a therapist, etc. Let your Deac be the one to research service providers and determine which one to use.
  •  Ask your Deac to be the one to research plane fares if you need air travel to Winston-Salem. (Before they pull the trigger and commit to a price, of course, they should get final OK from you if you are paying).
  • Charge your student with coming up with a game plan for packing their belongings – what supplies do they need, what are considered vital items to take, etc. Give them a budget for necessary supplies and let them get it.

Especially if this is your first student to head to college, you might be tempted to let your Deac take it easy for one final summer while you take care of all the details. Try to resist that temptation. It will be to your student’s benefit to have some real world experiences this summer – even doing the drudgy stuff – and move toward being as independent as possible. Giving your students time to learn how to manage their own affairs helps build their experience and confidence so they feel ready to be truly on their own when school starts. It will also help you feel confident that you have done all you can to prepare them to be successful.

PS to our P’24s, your students received an email from the Office of Academic Advising; read it here.

Have a great weekend, Daily Deacdom! Stay safe and well 🙂


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


Categories: the daily deac