Reflection during Winter Break

First-year families: your Deacs are done! Winter Break officially begins! As such, this will be our last Weekly Message.

Now that your Deac has completed their first semester of college – and classes don’t start back up until January – you have a lot of potential time together. Use it wisely to learn more about their experience: your Deac can share their stories of college, and you can see how they have grown and changed.  If you choose to take this opportunity, you can also help them reflect on the semester.  Reflection is a very important – and oft neglected – exercise.

Family relationships shift in college, and parents and families should be moving into a ‘consultant’ role and out of a ‘managerial’ or ‘decision-maker’ role. Building a strong relationship with your newly-independent college student means asking open-ended questions and listening more than talking.

The Mentoring Resource Center came up with a set of discussion prompts for mentors a few years ago. They are excellent starting points to help your student reflect on their semester, and I have augmented with a few of my own. Not all of these prompts may be things your Deac wants to share with you, but it might be good to ask rhetorically (and they can think about their answers privately, in their own time).

“If you were starting Wake Forest all over, what would you do differently and why?”

“In the past semester, what is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome, and what did you learn?”

“How do you want to be different six months from now than you are right now?”

“What were the differences between the best and worst decisions you have made?”

“If you were not afraid of failing, what would you do?”

“When were you happiest this semester? What made that experience so good for you?”

“What did you do this semester that made you the most proud?”

“What have you learned about yourself this semester?”

You can also ask some reflection questions of your own:

“Where was I most helpful to you during this first semester?”

“What do you wish I had done differently?”

And remember, don’t pepper your Deac with these questions. Keep them in your back pocket and pull a couple of them out when your Deac seems open to some reflection time.

Happy Winter Break, all!


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



To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.

If Your Student Has a Problem

One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them handle their business as independently as possible. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem, a decision to make, etc.

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