Wake Forest is four minutes from downtown Winston Salem, North Carolina, a southern city of 468,000 residents. Winston Salem is the fine arts center of North Carolina. It has an easy and accessible feel to it. Winston Salem is not a college city. It is, instead, a city that is home to several colleges including Salem College, The University of North Carolina School of Arts, and Winston-Salem State University.
You enter Wake Forest University through the front gates on a curving tree lined road. The campus is beautiful. It has a great traditional feel. The brick buildings are subtly trimmed in a light golden yellow, which combines with just enough black trim to be an ever-present reminder of the school’s colors of black and gold. There are two main quads that are surrounded by dorms and classroom and administrative buildings.
Only twenty-two percent of the 4867 undergraduate students are from North Carolina. Wake has a national draw, but it definitely retains Southern charm. Three percent of undergraduate students are international. (There are also over 2500 graduate students.) Wake Forest talks a great deal about diversity and first generation students and is seeking to be more diverse, however, on first glance, the students on the campus have a definite preppy vibe. Only 24% of undergraduates are students of color. Wake is becoming more and more diverse.
Academics are the first priority on Wake’s campus. The average class size is a laudable 20-25 students, with the largest being 40 students– with just a few exceptions. Intro science classes are often almost 100, but in 2011 they were capped at 86.
All undergraduate students apply and enter into the Wake Forest College, which is Wake’s College of Arts and Sciences. Students do not declare a major until the end of sophomore year. When students choose a major, they also choose their academic advisor. Most students maintain a unique relationship with their academic advisors throughout their time at Wake. The business school major is the only one to which a student must apply in choosing a major. Interested students apply during their college sophomore year. Admission to this major is competitive. Aside from the Business School, the other professional schools are the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Divinity School, the Law School, and the Medical School. Wake Forest is unique in that it has an intense focus on undergraduate teaching in the context of a globally relevant university. The undergraduate experience is similar academically to what is often found at a liberal arts college, yet the opportunities and energy of a research university add vibrancy to the campus.
In the spring of 2016 Wake announced the opening of an engineering program. They will start with biomedical engineering.
Research is encouraged in all disciplines. Here’s the description of biology research from the website:
We encourage all Biology majors and minors to become involved in the challenging and enriching investigations conducted daily by the 20+ research groups in the Biology Department and the much larger number of laboratories at the WFU Medical School. The Biology Department provides the opportunity to work closely with the faculty (a benefit of attending a school of Wake’s size) while simultaneously participating in your mentor’s group of Master’s and doctoral students as a team member. Each student seeking a research position should use the resources on this site to identify faculty with whom they have common areas of interest. http://college.wfu.edu/biology/undergraduate/undergraduate-research/ Then approach those people and ask about joining their group. If you are interested in someone at our Medical School, faculty in the Biology Department can facilitate your connection there.
Many students wait until their senior year to begin research, but we encourage you to consider starting earlier, in your junior or even sophomore year.
Wake Forest is defined by its professors. They hold dear what they call the Teacher/Scholar Model wherein all professors are not only teachers but also scholars. Every single class is taught by a professor. The professors who seek out Wake Forest have a commitment to research, but nothing is reportedly as valued to them as their love of teaching undergraduate students. One of Wake’s stated goals is to have small class sizes and strong academic advising that foster close-knit relations between professors and students.
There is a core requirement for Wake students so that when they graduate, they have received a broad education in the liberal arts. There are 5 required areas: humanities, literature, natural science/math, social sciences, and fine arts. Also all freshmen take a required freshman seminar. There is an additional freshman seminar writing class that can be bypassed with a 4 or 5 on AP English. Wake is academically challenging.
Wake owns a good number of its own study abroad programs, but also takes advantages of outside programing for study abroad. Sixty percent of students go abroad.
The library at Wake represents the whole aura of the campus. First and foremost it’s an academic enclave. The librarians, all of whom have a masters degree in library science and who also each serve as liaisons to one of the academic departments, have great senses of humor and try to display that in the library. The library is usually open, except that it closes at 7pm on Friday and Saturday nights. During finals week, the library is open 24/7, and the staff sponsors 3am bagels and cream cheese or pizza in the lobby to support the late night studiers. They have a giant paper pinned on the wall where students can write out all their study frustrations.
Wake students love Wake and express tons of school spirit watching the NCAA D1 sports teams. There is a significant Greek life. In fact 35% of men and 50% of women join Greek societies. Students say that they can have a great undergraduate experience without rushing a fraternity or sorority, but it should be considered when choosing Wake. Greek life pervades the campus and students with other interests might have to look a little harder to find their niche. Greek parties are undeniably a major part of the social scene on campus. They are, however, open to everyone. Students are guaranteed 4 years of housing and are required to live on campus 3 years. Freshmen live in all freshmen dorms on one part of campus.
Wake Forest has an excellent policy debate program and even won the 2008 National Championship.
Wake Forest recommends an interview as part of the application process. They don’t start interviewing until June before senior year. Students can interview long distance by Skype. Do not forgo your interview. Students can apply Early Decision as early as the end of junior year. Wake Forest is also test optional in admissions.
Wake has an acceptance rate of 34%. The ED rate is 48%.
The mid-range reported scores are as follows:
SAT m 620-730
63% of admitted students submitted SAT scores. 37% of admitted students submitted ACT scores.
ACT 28-32 (enrolled students)
Wake is meets almost 100% of demonstrated need; however, Wake does not limit student loans like some other similar institutions. Wake awards merit aid, but only to the top 3% of its incoming class.