Doing Their Best

Last minute addition coming in near our normal content deadline: the campus community received the following message about our approach to COVID-19 for the fall semester. We are sharing this important information with parents and families as well.

I can tell that it is almost the start of school because things are moving at a million miles an hour as we prep for your students’ return. As such, I made a small error in yesterday’s Daily Deac about mailing packages to your student. I left out a sentence specifying that the first example was for how to mail US Postal Service mail, and didn’t have any information about mailing to Deacon Place. I have corrected the original post, so if you printed out yesterday’s Daily Deac, throw that out and print this version here.

Or as a quick reminder, here are the addressing conventions:

If your Deac’s campus box was 8820, you would address US Postal Service mail as:  

[Your Deac’s name]
Box 8820
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109

And you would address UPS/FedEx/DHL letters or packages as:

[Your Deac’s name]
1834 Wake Forest Road
Unit 8820
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27106

I also realized I hadn’t included how to mail to Deacon Place residents; see Deacon Place mailing info in yesterday’s now-corrected message.

We also had a campuswide message about a scheduled power outage on Sunday (8/7).

Because we’re getting so close to the start of school, I can feel my maternal instinct to try and cram in lots of advice for students to consider while they still have time 🙂 Today I want to say a few words about students doing their best.

I am an academic adviser, and sometimes in the first few weeks of the semester I hear from students who are upset about their grade on a test or paper. In those moments, when a student tells me they are getting a less-than-optimal grade, I ask them to reflect on how they got here. I ask them to think about questions like these:

Did I follow the syllabus exactly, or did I turn in papers late, have too many absences, not turn in homework, etc.?

Did I do the reading for class and come prepared every time, or did I procrastinate or skimp on preparation?

At the first sign of trouble, did I go to my faculty member’s office hours for help? 

Did I avail myself of the free tutoring from the Bio Center, Chemistry Center, Math and Stats Center, or Writing Center and/or did I seek out free peer tutoring or academic coaching from the Center for Learning, Access, and Student Success? Or did I go it alone?

Did I spend too much time socializing and not enough studying?

Did I study in a time and place that was free of distraction/optimized my ability to focus and concentrate?

Did I get enough sleep, or have I been burning the midnight oil?

etc. etc. etc.

I then tell the student that if they can see places they could have done better, they know what to do next time to improve their performance. BUT, if they sincerely made a great effort and did everything within their control to help them learn the material, maybe that class just represents a superhard subject for them, and they grade they got represents their best effort; in that case, move on with your head held high.

A lot of our students were so high achieving in high school that they got As in most or all of their subjects, and many arrive expecting that trend to continue. But the paths can diverge in college: students who were great at all subjects in high school may only be great in their strongest areas in college. They may merely be ‘good’ in some subjects, not ‘great.’ So help your student normalize the idea that “doing their best” in college does not necessarily equate to “getting an A.” It might be getting a B or a C, but they have given that class their best effort.

The important part is to do all you can to set yourself up for success: put in the work, take advantage of faculty office hours, free tutoring and other supports, and the basics like a solid place to study, adequate sleep, and so forth. Then, no matter your grade, you know you gave it your best.

This is worth talking about and thinking about now, before the semester begins 🙂

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

August 4, 2022