Thursday questions

Yesterday’s Daily Deac was written and ready to go before the events that transpired in the Capitol yesterday. Last night, Dr. Hatch sent a message to students, faculty, and staff about those events; you can read it here.

We’ve received this question about pre-arrival testing in the Call Center a couple of times, and I want to share the answer here in case it is helpful. In our December 17 message to students, we indicated there are testing windows in which to get a COVID test prior to returning to Winston-Salem at the start of the semester. For our on-campus students, they physically cannot come back until January 23 (if they are students moving into residence halls for the first time) or the 24th-26th (for those who had been with us in the fall). Undergraduates who live off-campus could theoretically return before those dates (though we have encouraged students to delay return as long as possible, just to limit potential spread of COVID between communities). Any off-campus undergraduates should test in the Jan. 9-15 window, as that will provide Wake Forest with a valid test closest to the student’s interaction with the rest of the student body. In the event your student tested prior to that window and is already in Winston-Salem now, we are fortunate to have a lot of testing options available (some of it free). Your students can find testing options here.

I continue to make my way through some of the questions you asked me in our December survey. Here are a few more.

How can students make better use of the OPCD? 

WFU students have access to one of the best career offices in the nation. The Office of Personal and Career Development not only helps students identify their skills and what career, or grad school, options best aligns with their strengths, but they also help put those plans into action. My first piece of advice is to engage with them! You may not think they have anything to offer you, but trust me, from their experienced career coaching staff, to the award-winning events they put on, and even their communication to students, there is something for every student, no matter what their class year.   

There are tons of tools on the OPCD website’s Start Here page that helps students consider potential paths – whether for a major, a career, etc. The more self-work a student does in knowing themselves, the more likely they are going to tailor their internship or job search in the areas that might make them happiest. My second bit of advice is for students to commit to an hour each month in something OPCD-related: meet with a career coach, take a skills inventory, attend an event. The more time you put in and the more relationships you build with staff, the better your outcome will be.

What should students do when they are repeatedly unable to get classes they need for their chosen paths at Wake? 

As an academic adviser, I would have students tell me they can’t get class X or Y even in non-COVID years. When we would look at the schedule together, frequently what would happen is that there were spots available, but they were at 8 or 9 am, or they were not with the professor the student most wanted; so those are situations where there are options available, but the student is not taking them. 

Students must complete 120 hours of credit to graduate. Depending on where they place in foreign language (and which year they started Wake), to complete their basic requirements takes around 12-22 credits (give or take). Divisional requirements are around 26 credits. Most majors in the College range between 30-36 credits; engineering requires about 45; the various business majors are in the 60ish credit range. 

So when you add up all those requirements, it does not total the 120 credits needed to graduate; depending on where you fall, you might have as little as 68ish credits of Basics/Divisionals/Major requirements, or as many as 108ish. So you complete the rest of your 120 credit hours with elective courses in areas you are interested in. 

After registration rounds, seats in classes or entire sections are often added. Students should be patient with the availability of classes; rarely do first year students have to complete a major class during their first year. 

The Office of Academic Advising suggests concentrating on Basic and Divisional courses early – and even then be flexible with your course selection. Your student should explore options of courses in subjects they have never studied before, courses that bend their minds in ways to help them become stronger problem-solvers and critical thinkers. And serendipity, discovery, and adventure are reasons we want your student at Wake Forest and a great benefit, after all, of a Wake Forest and a liberal arts education. 

My experience has been that if you can’t get a class in your major, it sometimes happens as a sophomore or first semester junior. In virtually all cases, there is still PLENTY of time to complete those requirements, so focus on an elective class(es). Or be willing to take a course at an earlier or later time, or with a different faculty member – being flexible is a good early lesson for our students. 

If you are a declared major and you are having difficulty getting a class you need to graduate, that is when you should talk to your major adviser.

Might there be a sophomore Orientation in August since this year’s freshman class completely missed out on a key experience highlighted in the admissions slideshow?

There are no plans (to my knowledge) to do so. If I were a betting woman, I would bet that a lot of our ’24s would be unhappy if they were made to attend a ‘new student’ program. There is a lot of cache in being a sophomore and no longer being the newbies. 

It also brings to mind something we see occasionally, and that is that what seems to be important to parents/family members is not as important to students. An example would be outside time at the hotels for students in quarantine. I talked to many families who were very upset that their students could not go outside during the worst of our surge (when we had to reevaluate safety protocols). Once outside time reopened, students were not clamoring for spots; we had students who were invited to sign up for outside time who did not elect to use it.

We had a similar situation with students getting mental/emotional support at the hotels: administrators and families alike were concerned about isolation and set up options for students to get check-ins with a wellbeing coach, and that program was not widely used. What we heard from students was that they were talking to their loved ones and their friends, so they did not need to use that service as much as we thought they might.

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (with a big assist from my friends in the OPCD, Office of Academic Advising, and faculty members)

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