Academics Advice

The first semester

  • I remember first semester being the hardest for my daughter. Her course load was very heavy and although she attended a rigorous academic high school, her stress level was sometimes high. She figured it out second semester.
  • It’s ok to ease into college. Our son used some of his AP credits so he could take only 12 credits his first semester.
  • Take a lighter academic load the first year. This is a big transition year – give yourself the room to explore the academic and social landscape.
“Have your student take a reasonable courseload first semester.  It builds confidence and allows them to have time to acclimate to campus life.”
  • Mix some somewhat easy classes with more difficult ones.
  • Students need to ask, ask, ask!  The process for signing up for courses can seem confusing, but use the resources available.
  • Let your student figure things out. Use the student advisers for advice.
  • Don’t fret – it does work out!
  • Once school begins, make sure your student takes advantage of meeting with his/her academic adviser. Important to stay in touch in regard to required classes for a major.
“Be patient with the course selection process. First year students don’t get everything they think they want, but often get something that turns out to be a pleasant surprise.”

Succeeding in classes

  • Tell your student don’t be afraid to ask for help – there is a Writing Center, Math and Stats Center, Chem Center, etc.
  • Enjoy every class, even if it’s not what you thought it would be. There is always something to be learned!
  • Don’t miss class, and plan your academic calendar strategically.

Time management

  • Your child is likely coming from a high school where his or her days were packed from early morning to evening thanks to classes, sports and after-school activities.  When they get to college, the time spent in actual class is way less than the time they spent physically at school in high school.  It can be hard to manage all that free time. New students need to use that free time to get ahead in their work; not just keep up with it.
  • Treat your day like a job. Go to class and study 9-5 with an hour lunch break. After that, see what is left to do!
  • Pace yourself. My daughter realized quickly that being a successful Deac means a lot of work. Plan ahead and pace yourself to meet the many deadlines.
“Encourage your student to go to office hours and ask the professor if they have a question. Every time our son did, he found the professor was more than happy to work with him.”

On preconceived majors

  • Remain open to new possibilities when things don’t go according to plan!
  • Please, please, do not come into Wake as parent or student thinking “getting into the business school is a do or die situation.”  Our student entered thinking that was the only road to go and what he “should do” because so many of his friends were doing the same thing.  He was not accepted into the business school and it was one of the best things that happened to him.  He found another way to achieve his objective, was much happier, and graduated with his dream job in business.

Parenting your college student

  • Start practicing Stop, Drop and Roll and providing perspective in the form of questions: “What resources does Wake offer to help you?”


Editorial note:  The following quotes were provided by families of rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  Comments have been minimally edited; in come cases, comments were combined with others. 

“Be a sounding board for your student but don’t try to fix their problems. Offer suggestions and tips but let them do the sweat equity. It’s their education and it’s the only way they’ll learn valuable life lessons like how to problem solve and communicate.”