Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Your First Year Student's Holiday To-Do List

We believe that the first semester of college is a time of transition for students as they adjust to their new living environment and get accustomed to the college workload and extracurricular activities. During their first semester, we ask our first year students to do only one thing: register with the OPCD on DeaconSource to make sure that they will get all the information they will need from our office. About 40% of first years have already done so, so please make sure your student is registered.

Here are three easy steps that you can encourage your first year student to take while they are home:

  1. Take Focus 2. This online self-assessment helps students identify their interests, values, personality type and skills. Acknowledging these personal characteristics will help your student clarify and confirm crucial decisions like selecting classes, majors, summer options and career interests. Focus 2 aligns your student’s assessment results with possible majors and career paths. In less than 20 minutes, your student can receive preliminary results. Encourage your student to share the results with an OPCD career counselor, their academic advisor and any adult fan who they trust and respect. This will enable your student to benefit from hearing different perspectives towards making informed decisions.
  2. Complete 1-3 Informational Interviews. Most first year students have very little idea what type of work or career they want to pursue.  Developmentally, this is completely reasonable and common. Please do not put any pressure on them to feel as if they should know or that the clock is ticking and they are running out of time. Instead, help them talk about their interests and brainstorm where those interests might be used in a work environment. Encourage them to talk to one of their adult fans, as well as someone in your network or neighborhood who might have a broader perspective (like a teacher, coach, doctor or dentist). After your student speaks with a few of their adult fans, help them connect with someone who works in the general career area that interests them. The goal is to understand if this type of work is something your student might want to learn more about.  For example, does your student have an interest in creative writing, art or communications? Perhaps they can talk with the website developer where you work, or with your neighbor who does freelance creative work for an ad agency, or with a friend who is a curator at a local museum.
  3. Review our sample collegiate resumes. Over break, encourage your student to use our resume templates to transform their high school resume into a collegiate resume. Include notable high school activities and honors, but also ask your student to envision what they would like to have on their resume in the future. This is a great way to strike up conversation about new activities and opportunities that they may want to get involved in next semester. When they return from break, they can come into the OPCD office and have their resume reviewed before they share it with their networking contacts and potential summer employers.

Learning about and using these valuable resources and developing these key skills will help your student begin to build a strong foundation for their personal and career development.  Starting now will make it easier throughout their college experience and will be of benefit to them throughout their lives. If you are looking for more ways to help your first year student, check out the Office of Campus Life’s First Year Checklist, which offers helpful ideas on how to get involved and take advantage of Wake Forest’s many resources.

Category: Making the Most of Breaks