Wake Forest is a rare find in higher education—a medium-sized university that consistently
ranks in the top thirty undergraduate programs nationwide with an active and
involved student body and a tight-knit community of professors, students, and administrators.
With just 4,476 undergraduates, the university strikes the perfect balance in size. It’s
impossible to walk across the campus without seeing the faces of your classmates and
friends, but there’s still the opportunity to meet a new person each day. Only twenty-five percent of students hail from North Carolina, while the rest are transplants from all over
the United States and abroad. All these factors combine to create a close, supportive community
of students interested in pursuing a liberal arts degree.
Wake Forest students often fondly and with some seriousness refer to their school as
“Work Forest.” In its defense, they are also prone to say that at Wake, we “work hard and
play hard.” The academic curriculum is not for the casual student. Core curriculum requirements
are extensive, including at least thirty-three credit hours that usually dominate the
first two years of the college tenure. Though the classes are hard, the typical Wake Forest
student enjoys the challenge and the accompanying celebration that’s sure to follow.
Students are also able to develop amazing relationships with their professors, all of whom
will learn every student’s name, meet with students on a regular basis, and probably host a
class dinner at their house at least once a semester. The student to professor ratio is small
at 10:1. Lecture-style classes tend to top out at thirty students, while more discussion-based
seminar classes are limited to between fifteen and twenty students. Larger lectures are virtually
nonexistent. The largest classes are perhaps in intro level sciences and they rarely
exceed forty-five students. Even with these intimate class sizes, students still experience
the perks of a big-time national university in resources, technology, and athletics. The
undergraduate school of arts and sciences offers thirty-seven majors, most with corresponding
minors, and an additional twenty-seven interdisciplinary minors, which allow students
to take a wide variety of courses toward concentrations in journalism, film, Middle
Eastern studies, and more. There is also an undergraduate program in the Calloway School
of Business and Accountancy, which has been consistently ranked in the top twenty-five
programs nationwide by BusinessWeek.
Wake Forest is situated in the heart of Winston-Salem, the fourth-largest city in
North Carolina. Though Winston-Salem is home to four colleges, including the University of
North Carolina School of the Arts and Winston-Salem State University, the city does not
have the feel of a typical college town. Rather, it is suburban with a bustling art scene downtown
and the largest mall in North Carolina, Hanes Mall, just fifteen minutes from campus.
Its most impressive attraction is perhaps the plethora of amazing regional restaurants that
combine fresh seasonal ingredients with college-friendly budget pricing. There are also a
good number of bars for the over-twenty-one crowd, including a nice downtown wine bar, a
micro-brewery, and several bustling sports pubs. The city’s only social void is perhaps the
current lack of dance clubs, which is mostly made up for by frequent on-campus events and
open fraternity parties.
While Winston-Salem is home to the 340-acre
campus today, it wasn’t the original site of the college.
In fact, Wake Forest was established in 1834 by
the N.C. Baptist Convention in the town from which
the college takes its name, Wake Forest, N.C.
However, the entire campus moved to Winston-Salem
in 1956 with the help of a grant from the Z. Smith
Reynolds Foundation. In the 1980s the university formally
severed ties with the Baptist Convention and
remains unaffiliated with any religious denomination.
Today, the campus is one of the most beautiful
in America, bursting with blossoming magnolia trees
in the spring and colored with the gorgeous red and gold leaves of ash trees in the fall. The
southern Georgian architecture is a repeated motif in each of the buildings, and the campus
is compact enough that a brisk fifteen-minute walk will take you from end to end.
Who should apply to Wake Forest? The right match will be a serious student with the
desire and willingness to dedicate himself or herself to academic pursuits. You can’t expect
things to be easy; students who found high school easy may spend late nights in the library.
The right applicant will also follow his or her passions outside of academics. Wake Forest
students often dedicate as much time in groups and clubs as they do to school, whether in
a fraternity or on the student newspaper. A successful Wake Forest student must also
embrace Winston-Salem and the southern culture that’s a part of the experience. If you aren’t willing to welcome the occasional chicken biscuit or sundress, you may need to
rethink your decision. Generally, the student body has a welcoming southern spirit, where
everyone can come to appreciate the history and culture. To become a Deac, be prepared
to loathe your archrivals at the nearest Carolina schools and come to think of yellow and
black tie-dye as an appropriate fashion choice. Expect to sunbathe on the Quad beneath the
magnolia trees in the spring and have snowball fights during the two or three snow days
What defines the Wake Forest experience? The small student body and the dedicated
faculty form a tight-knit community and a bond that lasts well after graduation. Alumni feel
a special camaraderie, as if Wake Forest is our own personal secret hidden in North Carolina.
At its core, Wake Forest is a liberal arts university. This commitment to educating the
whole person is reflected in the extensive core curriculum, which is required for all
undergraduate students. Most students complete the bulk of the core curriculum, which
consists of several basic requirements and additional classes across five divisions, during
their first two years. The basic requirements include a first-year seminar, a writing seminar,
two courses in health and exercise, and advancing to the 200-level in one foreign language.
First-year seminars are often the highlight of the freshman course load. These classes are
limited to fifteen freshmen and are offered by senior faculty in their own area of expertise.
In order to meet the foreign language requirement, students may take a placement exam
to determine their level of mastery and be placed in a beginning, intermediate, or advanced
class. Students with excellent language skills may test directly into the 200-level and take
only one class to meet the requirement.
In addition to these basic requirements, students take classes in five divisions:
humanities, literature, fine arts, social sciences, and math and natural sciences.
I might have never taken a class in anthropology, sociology, or psychology
(all of which I loved) if not for those requirements. You’re not only allowed
to take classes that aren’t part of your major, you’re encouraged. That’s not a
common college experience. A lot of friends who were unsure about what direction
to take in college used divisionals to shop around for majors.
Students are not asked to declare a major until the end of sophomore year. Wake Forest
offers thirty-seven majors, the most popular being business, political science, psychology,
biology, economics, history, communication, English, and health and exercise science.
Students are free to declare any major without formal application with only one exception:
the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy accepts applications for new majors in
the spring of the sophomore year. The school offers majors in accounting, business and
enterprise management, finance, and mathematical business. Accounting students can
earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting in five years and the program’s graduates
have ranked first in the nation for the highest passing rate on the CPA exam for the
past four years. The Calloway School has consistently ranked in US News and World
Report’s top thirty undergraduate business schools and in BusinessWeek’s Top 25.
Some of the most meaningful and memorable experiences with my professors
were outside of the classroom. My Shakespeare professor invited our
whole class to her apartment before the final exam for a study session. We
crammed twenty-five students into her tiny apartment, sitting cross-legged on
the floor with plates of pizza and salad balanced on couch cushions while we discussed
The Merchant of Venice. Another of my professors held our final exams in
her home. We had pasta salad and homemade iced tea and then presented our
projects in her sun room that overlooked a lake. The last such dinner I had at a
professor’s home was after finishing my senior honors thesis. Our advisor asked
us about our postgraduation plans over a whole roasted chicken stuffed with
oranges. These are some of my favorite memories of these professors—I was able
to see them open up and share a new piece of themselves.
Study abroad is becoming an increasingly common part of the college experience and
Wake Forest is no exception. In fact, Wake Forest has one of the highest percentages of
students studying abroad. More than sixty percent of Wake Forest students choose to study
abroad for at least one semester. Wake Forest has several of its own programs abroad. The
university owns houses in London, England; Vienna, Austria; and on the Grand Canal in
Venice, Italy. Groups of twelve to fifteen students live in these residences with a Wake
Forest professor for a semester. Students take classes for four days a week and often use
their long weekends to travel. Wake Forest also has two language emersion programs, one
in Dijon, France, and one is Salamanca, Spain. Students in these programs live with native
host families and take classes at local universities. These programs also organize a good
deal of travel around Europe and Asia. Wake Forest also sponsors summer programs in Asia,
South America, Africa, and Europe.
Wake Forest students may also choose to study through a program offered by another
American university or enroll directly in a foreign university for a semester.
My semester abroad in London was spent in a three-bedroom flat with
eight roommates. My room, which I shared with one other girl, was literally so
small that I could touch both walls with my arms outstretched. I worked for a
British guidebook where my coworkers taught me British slang and took me to
cheesy dance club nights. I attended a theater class that booked tickets to edgy
experimental dramas and sweeping West End musicals. It was the most exciting,
unspeakably amazing time of my life.
Most Popular Fields of Study
In 2008 Wake Forest became the first top thirty university to make standardized testing
optional for admission. University officials made the decision based on research that
suggested standardized tests are not the best predictors of success in college. There is “a
compelling argument that reliance on the SAT and other standardized tests for admission
is a major barrier to access for many worthy students,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, provost. “By
taking this step at Wake Forest, we want to remove that barrier.” Students may still choose
to submit SAT or ACT scores, but high school curriculum and classroom performance combined
with writing abilities, extracurricular activities, and evidence of talent and character
have become the most important factors in admission. In conjunction with this change,
Martha Allman, director of admissions, now strongly encourages interviews either on campus
or with a Wake Forest (alums or graduates) in your hometown. Interviews can be set
up through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Using a webcam, a microphone, and
the Internet, some students applying to Wake Forest can now sit in their living rooms at
home and have a “face-to-face” conversation with an admissions counselor. Wake Forest
began offering webcam interviews in 2008.
In 2008, about 9,000 students applied to Wake Forest and a little less than forty percent
were admitted. Of those admitted, about 1,200 enroll each year. The university has
recently explored increasing the size of the undergraduate student body by a few hundred
students. However, maintaining the current student-teacher ratio and continuing to provide
housing for undergraduates remain high priorities for the administration, so any
growth will be slow. Eighty-five percent of entering freshmen rank in the top twenty percent
of their high school class. The majority of enrolling freshmen come from southern and
mid-Atlantic states, but students enroll from all over the United States and more than
twenty foreign countries. A volunteer group of students offers campus tours every day.
Prospective freshmen can also sign up to be hosted by a current student for a day. Students
take prospectives to their classes and board them in the dorms for the evening. The university
accepts the Common Application, which must be accompanied by a writing supplement.
Early Decision applications are due November 15; Wake Forest must be the student’s
first choice and only Early Decision application. Regular Decision applications are due
January 15 and decisions are mailed by April 1.
Wake Forest is one of a small group of private universities pledged to “need-blind”
admissions, meaning that students will be admitted without consideration of their ability
to pay and the university will meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need. Around
fifty-two percent of students receive some form of financial aid through scholarships,
grants, student loans, or work-study programs. Funds are available through federal and
state sources in addition to the university’s own financial resources. Students should apply
for financial aid even before receiving their decision from the university in order to begin
the long process. Applications for need-based financial aid are due March 1.
Merit-based scholarships are available, but the competition for these scholarships is
fierce. Several different scholarships, including the Presidential Scholarships, are based on
demonstrated aptitudes in certain fields such as theater, dance, music, or community service.
Students must apply for these scholarships in January. Recipients of the Reynolds-
Cardwells scholarships receive funds to cover tuition costs, allowances for books and living
expenses, and summer grants for individual study.
Student Financial Aid Details
The Wake Forest campus is the heart of the college community, where most of the action
takes place. Seventy percent of Wake Forest students live on campus in residence halls.
Freshmen mostly live together on South Campus. The majority of these freshman dorms are
arranged in hall-style living with fifteen to twenty rooms on a hall. Halls share bathrooms
and common rooms. Each room has air conditioning and comes equipped with beds,
dressers, desks, and a micro-fridge. All dorms have communal kitchens and free laundry
facilities. The residence halls are coed, but separated into male and female halls.
Freshmen-year roommates are assigned using a compatibility survey.
After freshman year, students move to North Campus into upperclassman dorms.
Upperclassmen choose their own roommates and have more diverse housing options. The
majority of upperclassman housing is suite-style, meaning that six-to-eight people share a
suite with three or four bedrooms and shared bathrooms. Upperclassmen can also move to
Polo Residence Hall or student apartments, which offer apartments with private kitchenettes,
bathrooms, and living rooms. These usually accommodate two to four people.
Groups of students who share a particular interest may also apply for Theme
Housing. These programs are usually located in university-owned houses on the edges of
campus or in blocks of rooms in university residence halls. Current theme housing includes
the environmental house, foreign language houses, the technology house, and various
sports-themed houses such as crew, lacrosse, and soccer. Students must live in university
housing for their first two years. Upperclassmen who choose to move off campus often find
apartments in one of several nearby complexes that cater to university students or rent
homes in the surrounding neighborhood. These rental properties are a short drive from the
university and a great option for students looking to save money or get a little more space.
All students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan. The number of meals
required varies based on your type of university housing. Students who have their own
kitchens are required to buy fewer meals than students who share communal kitchens.
Commuter students are not required to purchase the meal plan. On-campus dining options
include three food courts, a buffet-style dining room, a Subway on the Quad, and three coffee
shops including a Starbucks in the library. The largest food court is a sunken dining room traditionally referred to as the Pit. The Pit serves three different meals a day, each
including a salad bar, pasta station, deli sandwiches, home-cooking station, fresh waffles,
world cuisine, and desserts. The dining room itself is spacious, clean, and bright with tons
of seating for groups large and small and is fitted with flat screen televisions. There is a
carry-out option that allows students to box meals for dining on the go.
A favorite alternative option is the Magnolia
Room, a buffet-style dining room that serves southern
classics and home-style favorites. Students line
up outside the room before its 10:30 A.M. opening and
the room stays filled until closing time at 2 P.M. The
Benson University Center is favored for quick meals.
The recently remodeled dining hall includes a Chickfil-
A, Panera bagels, Fresh Market smoothies, and
Subway, the latest open dining option, is the
number one stop for late night meals. Students can
use their meal plan to get a value meal until 2 A.M.
Expect long lines when the fresh bread comes out of
the oven. Since its opening in 2008, the Starbucks in
the library has become a hot spot. The two-level space is comfy and warm; huge study rooms
in the back are also a draw. The student-run coffeehouse Campus Grounds also attracts a
loyal following for its warm atmosphere and cushy couches. Shorty’s in the Benson
University Center is the only place to pick up beer on campus—try one of the local brews
on tap and charge it to your Deacon cash card!
Clubs and Organizations
There are more than 150 student organizations from a cappella groups to religious study
groups. Two of the largest groups are Student Government, which lobbies for student concerns
and allocates funds to clubs, and Student Union, which organizes concerts, performances,
movies, and other events. Student Union organizes Wake All Night at the beginning
of each semester with free food and poker and other games all night in the Benson University
Center. The group is also responsible for Springfest, a weeklong celebration that includes a
carnival, the Shag on the Mag spring dance, and a concert. Past performers have included O.A.R, Ben Folds, Guster, and Lewis Black. Student
media organizations include a newspaper, television
station, radio station, literary journal, and entertainment
Web site. The Old Gold & Black, the student
newspaper, has been publishing weekly since 1916 and
has won several national awards. The Student Web site
is the premiere destination for a calendar of student
events and local restaurant recommendations.
Several yearly events drive home the university’s
commitment to service that is expressed in the
school motto, Pro Humanitate, which means “for
humanity.” Every year 1,500 children from community
agencies trick-or-treat in the dorms and play games on
the Quad during Project Pumpkin. The Brian Piccolo
Cancer Fund Drive raises more than $50,000 annually with fun events such as dance-a-thons
and silent auctions. Brian Piccolo’s football career with the Demon Deacons and the Chicago
Bears and his subsequent battle with cancer are recorded in the film Brian’s Song. The
Volunteer Service Corps and several religious organizations organize a wide variety of service
projects both locally and around the world. These include yearly service trips to build homes,
plant gardens, and teach English in South America, Asia, and Africa.
In the tradition of many southern universities, Wake Forest does have a large Greek system.
Approximately forty percent of the student body is involved—a little less than fifty
percent of females join a sorority and a little over thirty percent of males join a fraternity.
However, unlike most universities, Greek housing is not separated from regular university
housing. There is no fraternity or sorority row. Rather, students who choose to live in Greek
housing do so in residence halls with blocks of rooms dedicated to their respective fraternity
or sorority. Members are normally not required to live in Greek housing. Each organization
has its own on-campus lounge, in which there are often parties on weekends that are
open to the entire student body. In general, the system is very open, partially due to the
deferred rush system. Wake Forest’s Greek system differs from most others in that students
do not rush during their first semester. Formal rush takes place in the spring semester.
The President’s Ball
In 2005 Wake Forest welcomed a new university
president and in honor of his inauguration,
an Inaugural Ball was held for all
students, faculty, and staff. The entire
Wake Forest community came dressed in
cocktail dresses and suits and mingled in
the basketball arena that had been transformed
into a gorgeous ballroom. President
Nathan O. Hatch rode into the arena with
the school mascot, seated on the back of a
motorcycle as confetti and balloons
descended from the ceiling. There were
chocolate fountains, ice sculptures, and
two excellent local bands. The first event
was such a success that a President’s Ball
is now held every other year.
Each Wake Forest undergraduate receives a
Lenovo Thinkpad and an HP inkjet printer/
scanner upon enrollment. Juniors trade in their
Thinkpads at the beginning of the fall semester for
the latest model, which they keep after graduation.
The Thinkpads come fully loaded and include access
to some expensive programs such as Photoshop.
Resident Technology Advisors (RTAs) live in each
residence hall and provide twenty-four-hour computer
assistance for the technologically challenged.
The entire campus has Wi-Fi accessibility that is so
reliable you’ll be able to access the Web literally anywhere
on campus, even in the middle of the Quad.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Wake Forest is the smallest school in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the third smallest school in the country to field a Division I football team, but its sports programs have enjoyed huge success. The school’s basketball team, which has cranked out NBA stars like Josh Howard, Tim Duncan, and Chris Paul, has often been ranked in the top twenty-five. The golf program has turned out stars like Arnold Palmer, Curtis Strange, and Jay Haas and has earned three national championships. The football team finished the 2006 season as ACC Champions, earning an appearance in the BCS Orange Bowl, which drew the largest gathering of alumni in Wake Forest history. The field hockey team won three consecutive national championships from 2002 to 2004 and played in the national championship title game in 2006. And both the men’s and women’s soccer teams finished their 2006 seasons in the top twenty-five. The university’s 2006 fall sports success even attracted national attention, with USA Todayrecently profiling the athletics
program under the headline “Tiny Wake Forest turns
its size into an asset.”
Students get free tickets to all home games.
Fall brings tailgates and football at Groves Stadium,
and winter brings the ACC basketball season, when
fans clad in gold and black tie-dyes fill Lawrence Joel
Memorial Coliseum to watch the Deacs take on the
likes of Duke and UNC—Chapel Hill. Big athletic victories merit “Rolling the Quad,” as students—and
sometimes a few professors—cover the ash trees of
the university’s main lawn with long ribbons of white toilet paper. The university also prides
itself on its high graduation rate for student athletes. Of Division I schools with football programs, Wake Forest has the best graduation rate in the nation at ninety-six percent.
- Rolling the Quad
- After major athletic
victories, students and sometimes faculty and staff send rolls of toilet paper
flying over the ash trees of the university’s main quad. Billowing toilet paper
never looked so beautiful.
- Project Pumpkin
- This annual volunteer
event brings more than 1,500 children
from community agencies to trick-or-treat in dorm rooms and play games set
up in residence hall lounges and across
the quad. Most undergraduate students
dress up to join in the festivities.
- This candle lit service in
Wait Chapel honors the area’s Moravian
heritage and tradition. Students and
community members sing carols and
partake in the traditional feast of sweet
buns and coffee.
- Brain Piccolo Cancer Fund Drive
- Student groups raise money for the
Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake
Forest University in honor of Piccolo, a
former Wake Forest football player and
member of the Chicago Bears whose
friendship with African-American teammate Gale Sayers and death from cancer at the age of twenty-six inspired the
movie Brian’s Song. Through events like
Dance-A-Thons, races, and silent auctions, Greek groups raise more than
$50,000 annually for the fund.
Eighty percent of Wake Forest students graduate
in four years. Within six months of graduation,
approximately thirty-five percent of graduates
enroll in graduate programs and sixty percent are
employed. Wake Forest has five professional and
graduate schools of its own—the School of Law, the
School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Arts and
Sciences, the Divinity School, and the Babcock
Graduate School of Management. Students interested
in pursuing degrees in medicine and law have
historically had great success in enrolling in programs nationwide. Sixty-eight percent of
those applying to medical school and about sixty percent of those applying to law school
are accepted. With eleven Rhodes Scholars in the past twenty years, the university has a
proud history of postgraduate achievement.
The Office of Career Services provides support for students seeking employment. The
office hosts career fairs, conducts resume reviews and mock interviews, provides career counseling,
and manages a job board and internship posting site. An extensive network of alumni
connections is a helpful resource for graduates. The job fairs typically bring more than 170
companies to campus for recruiting. Career Services also offers free seminars and forums
hosted by local professionals in which students can explore options in their fields of study.
- A. R. Ammons, Poet
- Rhoda Billings, Former Chief Justice
of the NC Supreme Court
- Marc Blucas, Actor, First Daughter and
- Richard Burr, U.S. Senator
- James Cain, U.S. Ambassador to
- W. J. Cash, Author
- Will D. Campbell, Author
- Tim Duncan, Professional Basketball
- Charles Ergen, Chairman, CEO,
- Evelyn “Pat” Foote, Retired Brigadier
General, U.S. Army
- Maria Henson, Pulitzer Prize-winning
- Al Hunt, Managing Editor for
Government Reporting, Bloomberg
- Gerald Johnson, Author
- Penelope Niven, Biographer
- Lee Norris, Actor, “One Tree Hill”
- Billy Packer, Sports Commentator
- Arnold Palmer, Professional Golfer
- Chris Paul, Professional Basketball
- Jim Perdue, Chairman, CEO, Perdue
- Brian Piccolo, Professional Football
- Curtis Strange, Professional Golfer
The undergraduate experience at Wake Forest is characterized by small classes with
devoted faculty. Wake Forest maintains a distinguished faculty in which eighty-six percent
of the full-time professors hold the terminal degree in his or her field. With a studentteacher
ratio of 10:1, students can expect to receive a good deal of individual attention.
Classes are anything but impersonal; professors know their students, greet them in the hallways,
and often host dinners in their homes for small classes. All professors keep office
hours and many make an effort to individually meet with each student during the semester.