Advice for New Parents & Families

Wait Chapel is visible through an ironwork WF logo, on the campus of Wake Forest University.

Where to Start

Here is a roundup of some general advice and important information we’ve put together for parents and families of new students:


Conversations to Have with Your Student this Summer

It would be helpful this summer to have some family discussions about your student’s hopes and expectations for college. Those expectations may differ from your own.

It will be important to discuss behavioral and other expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page before school begins; see suggested topics below. Only you and your student will know what feels right for your family.

  • Alcohol and/or drug use

    Talk about your expectations for your student’s behavior, and consider coaching them on what to do if they see a friend in trouble.

  • Birth control and sexuality

    Talk about birth control, sexual activity and consent (and how consent is defined at Wake Forest), especially in regard to alcohol use (how can you ensure your partner is actively consenting?)

  • Budgeting and spending money

    How much spending money will your students have? Will you send a set amount each week/month/on request? Do they know how to budget? What do you expect to pay for? What (if anything) do you expect your student to pay for from their own money?

  • Communication

    How often you will communicate? And who initiates that contact? Pro tip: you don’t have to answer every call or text from your student immediately. It can be more helpful not to answer that phone call from your student as soon as they leave class; if they don’t have you to talk to, it creates an opportunity for your Deacs to connect with their classmates instead.

  • COVID and public health guidelines

    Students will be expected to follow all public health guidelines and Wake Forest policies. You can help us stress the importance of adhering to any guidelines that apply.

  • Faith practice (or not)

    For some students, college can be a time to deepen an existing faith practice; for others, it is a time to explore a new one, or to practice differently than before (or not at all).

  • Grades

    Students have to grant you proxy access to see their grades or to talk to administrators; also see this information about realistic grade expectations.

  • Illness

    Students over 18 have medical privacy rights and must give consent for doctors and nurses to speak to their loved ones. There is not a blanket form for students to grant access for the whole semester or year (because there may be some visits your student wants to keep private); your Deac can give their consent to speak to their loved ones at individual Student Health Services visits. If it is important to you to be able to speak to your student’s doctor or nurse, be sure to discuss that before school begins.

  • Mental health

    What to do if they find themselves anxious, depressed, etc.? Sometimes knowing their family supports them in seeking care is the nudge that students need to get help. The JED Foundation has excellent resources available, including resources and tools related to mental health. If your student is already managing a mental health condition, talk about how best to continue that care in college.

  • Personal safety

    Do you have expectations that they don’t walk alone late at night, etc.? Does what you consider ‘safe’ align with their ideas? See tips from University Police.

  • Difficulties in the college transition

    Before you drop your student off, make sure you have talked about some of the things they are likely to experience at some point: loneliness, difficulty finding their niche, how much effort it takes to make new friends, feeling homesick. All of those things are normal and part of the transition process – but students rarely expect to feel loneliness when they are surrounded by over 1,300 students who are new too. Talk about this now, so that if loneliness or other emotions hit, your student will remember that this is something that happens to most students!

  • Social media

    Two key topics to cover about social media: 1) be very careful what you put out on social media, because what you post can impact how others view you (and can last forever). 2) regard your friends’ social media posts with some skepticism, particularly if their life looks perfect from their Instagram/Tik Tok, etc. Most people only share their carefully-curated best moments. Just because it looks like someone else’s life is better does not mean it is, so don’t worry that all your friends from high school seem to have it better than you do (they don’t!)

Your family may have other topics that are important to you. Be sure to discuss those openly with your student before college starts. You may also want to explore tips for parents and families on our University Counseling Center website.


Review the Stop, Drop, and Roll Framework

We encourage families to review the Stop, Drop, and Roll framework to learn how best to support your students when they have issues, decisions to make, or routine tasks to complete.


Navigating Family and Student Roles

How to understand what students are responsible for vs. parents and families.


Understanding Curriculum Requirements

We have prepared a video for families that gives a high-level overview of academic requirements so you can understand the basics of your student’s academic path and what our graduation requirements are – but allow your student to take the lead on their course selection. See more about curriculum requirements as well as the advising process and planning for course registration.


Grade Expectations

Experts share some considerations about having realistic expectations about grades.


Advice from Families of Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Learn from the experts who have been there, done that. Note: Use the next frame button to advance from page to page.


Parent & Family Resources