We asked parents of rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors to think back to their student’s freshmen year and what they wish they had known. Their advice is below.
Ask them to be open to lots of new faces and perspectives and to max out the first month by being present and engaging. The bonding happens quickly, and lasting friendships start in the dorm hallways and lounges.
Get involved where you have some interest, passion or talent. College is the time to experiment. Try new groups, activities.
Encourage them to try new things- to go out of their comfort zones, get involved.
There are so many activities, clubs, and events the first semester. Encourage your child to get out and participate. My daughter is always busy with various activities, and amazes me with some of the activities she has tried (camping for instance). The campus-wide events (Thrive, Hit the Bricks, Project Pumpkin) really bring the campus together and make students feel a part of the community. In contrast, my niece (at a large state university) hasn’t had nearly the positive social experience nor the opportunities to meet people to the extent that my daughter has here at Wake. So tell your student to join some things and take part in some (non-Greek) activities offered first semester.
Advise your children to seek out the activities that truly interest them first as there are a myriad of opportunities for same campus-wide. Do not overwhelm themselves trying to join everything. My son is not as outgoing as some. Luckily his freshman hall had many activities designed to bring the boys close together and it worked. I did encourage him to go out for some clubs and other campus organizations. Wake Forest has many to choose from and most are open to everyone. Through trial and error he has found his niche at Wake and is very happy with his choice. It is this group that keeps him centered and he knows “they have his back” when times get tough.
Don’t push it! Some kids will jump in with both feet, others will be more hesitant. Betsy [Chapman of the Daily Deac blog] does a phenomenal job letting us know what is going on around campus, but the more we push and say “why don’t you go to xyz or join abc”, the more resentful they become. Give them time, they will get involved at their own pace.
Encourage your freshman to make time to get involved in Greek life, activities, or sports. When they get involved, they will enrich their lives, make friends, and feel connected with Wake Forest University.
Picking 2-3 activities is a good start as students learn to balance it all and not to overwhelm themselves
Find your passion and pursue it! I was shocked when my daughter called and excitedly told us that she was co-captain of an intra-mural soccer team…she hasn’t played soccer since she was 8! Be encouraging and excited for them. Studying needs to be balanced with fresh air, exercise and being passionate.
I would highly recommend doing a Pre-Orientation Camp. It was fantastic, allowing my shy girl to acclimate, make friends, AND move-in early, enabling us to postpone our move-in until later in the day when the traffic had cleared
Freshman year can be hard. Meeting lots of people doesn’t always mean making lots of friends. Encourage students to join clubs, go to the sporting and cultural events on campus. Academics is often the safety zone for the caliber of student who attend Wake Forest. Don’t let them hide there. The more they get involved, the greater likelihood they will find people with common interests and interesting people!
Consider a preorientation program. My Deac did not, but surprised at how many did, and made fast friends.
Go to the summer New Student (and parent) Receptions, a great way to meet people in your location.
[Editorial note: The comments have been minimally edited and grouped together for coherence. In come cases, comments were combined with others. When we had parents responding with the same advice, we repeated it for emphasis. In the event a parent offered advice that ran counter to what Wake Forest advises, it was not included. These comments represent the views of the parent commentators, not the views of the Office of Family Engagement (formerly Parent Programs office) or Wake Forest.]