Rigor of Classes

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.


Your child has attained a lot to be admitted, so feel confident that they are joining a lot of like minded high achievers. So don’t focus so much on grades in the fall semester, but more on the support they need entering a new independent dorm world.

Be realistic in your expectations- and support your young people.  There can be some humbling experiences with all the other intelligent freshmen starting at Wake.

The first semester is the hardest and they will probably get their worst grades of their college career during this semester. Support them, rejoice with them (yes, a B and a C are worth rejoicing over), and let them figure out what to do differently for the classes that don’t go well.

Give your students some grace that first semester. As prepared as your student is academically, I still underestimated the significant adjustment and transition my student was making that first semester being 2,700 miles away from home. My student actually received a C- in one of her science classes but we all stayed calm and she figured out her options which was to retake the class over the summer which she did and she received an A. Retaking the class helped her to realize that she could do it and reaffirmed the commitment that was needed in order to achieve this grade. Her GPA is fine and she has gone on to make the Dean’s List.

My best advice is do not put any additional pressures on your future Deacs to achieve specific grades or GPAs, as many already do this to themselves internally, just support them and let them vent .

Your students will be pushed and stretched, and that is what you want for them. That is how they will grow. A “C” can be a growth experience, really!

Ask your son or daughter to [do the Proxy Access] FERPA release so that you can see their semester grades, especially the first two years. This is not to overly monitor them, but you need to know how they’re doing.

No matter how hard they study and prepare, they should not expect the kind of grades they got in high school.  AT WFU the bar has been raised and the number of good students has greatly increased.  Let them know that a “B” isn’t a bad grade.

Academics are challenging, especially the business school prerequisites of calculus, Econ, and accounting where there appears to be the intent to weed out students and set the competitive tone for the business school applications. Let your student know there are many, many ways to end up in the business world without graduating from Wake’s School of Business.  It’s not worth the stress on top of everything else freshman year to put that pressure on them.

Don’t sweat the mid-term grades! They usually turn around by the end of the semester but they will not always resemble the grades your student received in high school. As worrisome as these new lower grades may be to you, they are probably more bothersome to your child. They will need some encouragement from home until they adjust to the new expectations for their grades.


[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.]