The following message is being shared with Wake Forest families at the request of David Levy, Associate Dean of the College and Chair, Honor and Ethics Council.
As a parent and grandparent, I am aware of the strong desire to be helpful to your student when s/he encounters difficulty in her or his studies in school. Now that your student is at Wake Forest, it is important to bear in mind that there should be limits to the extent and nature of support that you as a parent or family member may offer.
All Wake Forest students are obliged to abide by the Honor Code, as is explained most fully in the document, Student Code of Conduct. Wake Forest offers a wide variety of options for students to receive help coping with difficulties they may encounter. It is not uncommon, however, for students to seek help and guidance from family as well. In such cases, parents are encouraged to refer their student to one or more of these excellent on-site resources. It is always best for the student to begin with the faculty member who is teaching the course. Academic advisers and the Office of Academic Advising (OAA) are the next best resource.
Emotional support and encouragement from families is wonderful, but under no circumstances should a family member actually do the work on behalf of the student. Allowing the student to struggle, and even to fail, often proves to be a better learning experience than seeking an easy way out of difficulty. While it may be painful to see your student struggle, it is always best for the student to take responsibility for her or his own education. As an example, I wish to present one way in which familial over-involvement in academic work has had negative consequences.
Wake Forest’s policy concerning ethical usage of technology states:
Use of campus facilities is restricted to authorized users. For the purposes of this document, an “authorized user” shall be defined as an individual who has been assigned a login ID and password by Information Systems staff (on any relevant system), or by an authorized agent. Individual users are responsible for the proper use of their accounts, including the protection of their login IDs and passwords. Users are also responsible for reporting any activities which they believe to be in violation of this policy, just as students are responsible for reporting Honor Code violations.
Individuals should use only those computing facilities they have been authorized to use. They should use these facilities:
I regret to say that in my experience as Associate Dean of the College, I have seen this policy violated, with unfortunate outcomes for the student, and a devastating effect on the student’s family. In violation of this policy, the student shared both password and login ID. While the student was culpable, the parent had shared responsibility.
I know from experience that parenting is the kind of love that grows toward separation. Just as the bird urges the chick to leave the nest as soon as possible, I know that you want to see your student fly on her or his own. Experience has also taught me that when you do so, the bonds of love are strengthened, and not weakened. I wish your student well as s/he thrives in every way imaginable during their time at Wake Forest! Trust them to grow as we here on campus challenge and support them on their journey!
David B. Levy
Associate Dean of the College and Chair, Honor and Ethics Council
To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.
One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them solve their own problems. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem. The flyer also lists contact information for serious concerns where family intervention might be appropriate.
Select slide shows from Orientation sessions are available online.