Wake Forest University Guide

The Ivy Scholars guide to Wake Forest University’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Mascot: The Demon Deacon

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 8,500 (5,000 undergrads)

Jump to Section:


About Wake Forest

Located in North Carolina, Wake Forest’s 340 acre campus is located on a former estate donated to the university, and the lush gardens and museums nearby reflect this heritage. The students, known as “deacs,” treasure the air of camaraderie and the scholarly atmosphere of the school. While the school is historically Baptist, it is now non-sectarian, and is focused on research for the sake of knowledge alone.

Wake Forest Statistics

Year Founded: 1834

4 Year Graduation Rate: 82%

Gender Distribution: 53% female, 47% male

Acceptance Rate: 28%

Residency: 12% in state, 78% out of state, 10% international

Location Type: Suburban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 11:1

Average Class Size: 20

Demographics: 70% Caucasian, 12% Other, 7% Hispanic, 7% Black, 4% Asian

Need assistance with the college admissions process?

National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #23 Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #25 Best Value Schools
  • #27 National Universities
  • #35 Study Abroad
  • #50 Undergraduate Research

Independent Rankings:

  • #3 Best Test Optional Colleges per Niche
  • #14 Most Accessible Professors per The Princeton Review
  • #33 Research Universities per Forbes
  • #36 Top Private Universities per Niche
  • #56 Top Colleges per Forbes
  • #62 Best Value Colleges per Niche
  • #68 Best National Universities per The Times of Higher Education

Wake Forest Admissions Information

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Decision: November 15th
  • Regular Decision: January 1st
  • Transfer Deadline: March 15th

Notification Dates:

  • Early Decision: On a rolling basis
  • Regular Decision: April 1st
  • Transfer Deadline: Mid-May

Acceptance Rates:

  • ED: 38%
  • RD: 26% 
  • Transfer: 5%

Average Applicant Pool: 13,000

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 3,600

Average Number Enrolled: 1,300

Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App

Average GPA: 3.9 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th% – 1310, 75th% – 1470

ACT Scores: 25th% – 29, 75th% – 33

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest:

Wake Forest strongly considers demonstrated interest.

How to demonstrate interest

Recommendation Letter Policies:

One letter from a teacher is all that is required.

Wake Forest Essay Prompts:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • List five books you have read that intrigued you. (Spaces have been left for you to include each book’s title and author and mark whether the selection was required or not required.)
  • As part of my high-school English curriculum, I was required to read _________. I would have liked to replace it with______. The required book I was most surprised I enjoyed was ________.
  • Tell us how a work of fiction you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity. 
  • What piques your intellectual curiosity, and why? 
  • As part of our “Voices of Our Time” series — which allows students, faculty, and staff to hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers — Wake Forest has hosted Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, Eboo Patel, and Thomas Friedman. If you could choose the next series speaker, whom would you pick, and why?
  • Give us your top ten list.
  • At Wake Forest, we gather our students in “Calls to Conversation,” congregating small groups around dinner tables in faculty’s and administrators’ homes to discuss topics organized around a theme, for example “arts for social change,” “gender in society,” and “leading a meaningful life.” If you could design a theme for a “Call to Conversation,” what would you choose, and why?
  • We live in an age intensely interested in heroes. Professor Joseph Campbell defined “hero” as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Describe a hero in public life and how and why, in your opinion, they meet Professor Campbell’s definition.

Wake Forest Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

Interviews are strongly recommended when applying to Wake Forest. They are held in person or via Skype between June 1st and November 30th.


  • Students who have graduated high school and completed any college coursework are considered transfer students.
  • Transfer students are eligible for all need-based financial aid, but not merit aid.
  • High school and college transcripts are required, as is a college report. Standardized tests are optional. Interviews are not offered to transfer students.

Wake Forest Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria: 

The aspects they consider very important are: character, class rank, secondary school record, and essay responses.

The factors they consider important are: recommendations, interview, extracurriculars, and talent. While the interview is technically optional, they do recommend all students complete one, and most admitted students do complete an interview.

The aspects which are considered are: legacy status, first-generation status, geographic origin, race/ethnicity, standardized test scores, and level of interest.

Whether an athlete is recruited is considered in the admissions decision, although they are still expected to be prepared for the school academically.

What is Wake Forest Looking For?

The school uses a holistic admissions process, meaning they review all parts of the application and judge it as a whole. The most important part is the school record; seeing if the student challenged themselves with difficult courses, and did well in them. They look to these for demonstrations of intellectual curiosity and academic vitality. While there are no grades or test scores which are automatic admissions cut-offs, failing to perform academically will weaken your application.

They want students who are authentic, and who come across in the essays as genuine people. They want to judge the student’s character, and see how they fit with the idea of the school community they are trying to build.

The school wants students who will be actively and passionately involved, and they approach this both by attempting to further involve current students, and by recruiting and admitting students who they believe will be actively engaged with and participate in the campus community. They are looking for students who are actively passionate and invested in the school and their own communities.

Wake Forest Strategy:

Applying Early Decision is the easiest way to improve your chances of admission, especially given how important demonstrated interest is to the school. The ED pool is smaller, and is used to fill a proportionally large part of each incoming class. While the standards are not relaxed, the smaller pool and demonstration of interest means students who would slip through the cracks in regular decision admissions may have a better chance. If Wake Forest is your first choice, you should definitely apply ED.

While the interview at Wake Forest is technically optional, it is still an important part of the admissions process, and students should participate in one if possible. Not only is the interview itself important, but it allows students to demonstrate their character, another key component of the admissions decision. Students should practice for the interview before going into it. 

The school is test optional; therefore if you did poorly on your tests, you shouldn’t send in your scores. If your scores are at or above average for the school, then you should send them in, especially if they are on the above-average side of things. Wake Forest wants to admit students who are academically prepared, so only submit your scores if they support that narrative. 

For the essays, demonstrating your character is key. Wake Forest asks for more essays than most schools, and asks unusual questions. The answers should be unique to you, and should enlighten admissions officers about aspects of your character and personality they are unable to find out about elsewhere. The top ten list is an easy way to stand out, so long as you don’t pick an overdone category. Wake Forest looks for authenticity and character in applicants, and the essays are the best place to demonstrate this.

Wake Forest Academics


Core Requirements:

  • Basic Requirements (5 courses: First Year Seminar, Writing Seminar, 1 200-level language course, Lifestyles and Health, and Exercise for Health)
  • Divisional Requirements: Humanities, Literatures, Fine Arts, Social Sciences, and Math and Natural Sciences
  • Comprehensive Degree Requirement Information

Courses of Study: 

  • 47 Majors Offered
  • Option to double major
  • Popular majors include Economics, Communication, Psychology, Finance, and Business
  • Students usually declare majors in the Spring of their sophomore year, it requires permission from department heads to change majors.
  • Minors Offered
  • Course Catalog

AP Credit Policies:

  • Wake Forest awards varying amounts of credit from AP exams, depending on score and test. AP credit cannot be used to get out of divisional requirements, but does count towards total credits needed for graduation.
  • Comprehensive AP Credit Information

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

  • Wake Forest doesn’t have an overarching honors program, but each department has its own honors track, each with its own benefits and admissions requirements. These may only be entered by current students in high standing. 
  • Graduation Honors (Latin Honors [summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude] based on cumulative GPA)
  • Academic Honors Societies

Research Availability:

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

Pre-Med Options:

  • Wake Forest does not offer a pre-med major, but does have a program for pre-med students, with course recommendations and advising.

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • Pre-College programs allow students to take classes either online or in-person at Wake Forest, and let them experience college life and earn course credit.
  • Summer programs allow students to experience the school both academically and socially, and explore their interests with courses or research.

Student Life at Wake Forest

School Motto: 

For Humanity

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: Wake Forest College stands as the cornerstone of Wake Forest University. It is a distinctive academic institution that values and maintains the liberal arts tradition within the context of an internationally recognized research university. The College embraces the teacher-scholar ideal, valuing exceptional teaching; a commitment to outstanding and innovative research, discovery, performance, and creative activities; and personal academic interaction between students and faculty both in and out of the classroom.
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Grad Reports)

Residential Housing System:

Wake Forest guarantees students a place in housing for all four years, and requires full-time students to live in on-campus housing for their first three years. There are separate dorms for first year students and upperclassmen. Some upperclassmen can live in houses owned by the university, in place of more traditional dorms. 

Additional Information

Housing Statistics:

  • 99% of freshmen live on campus
  • 80% of students live on campus at any given time.

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



  • President’s BallA biennial party held on homecoming weekend, hosted by the university’s president. 
  • Hit the BricksA race/walkathon to raise money for cancer research
  • LovefeastA traditional Moravian religious service/meal.
  • SpringfestAn annual celebration on the quad featuring live music, free food, movies, and dancing

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life: 

  • 45% of students are involved in Greek life, including, social, service, and academic organizations.


  • There are frat or apartment parties most weekends. 
  • Winston-Salem has a vibrant bar and restaurant scene, many of them near the campus. 
  • Student organizations put on shows most weekends, in most every genre, so there’s always something to watch or experience.

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $77,342
  • Tuition and Fees: $57,760
  • Room & Board: $15,248
  • Books: $1,500
  • Personal Expenses: $1,550

Financial Aid:

54% of students receive financial aid. All students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for aid. There are various need-based grants to help students pay for tuition. Wake Forest commits itself to paying for 100% of demonstrated need for its students. 

Additional Financial Aid & Student Loan Information


Wake Forest has a number of highly selective merit-based scholarships, which go to students with outstanding academic achievement. These scholarships do not require an additional application; students who apply are automatically considered for them. Some of these scholarships also take financial need into consideration.

Fun Facts

  • Wake Forest University was originally located in the town of Wake Forest North Carolina, which was named after the school. It moved its main campus to Winston-Salem in 1946. 
  • Presidential debates were held on campus twice, the first between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988, the second between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. 
  • Wake Forest was the first major Southern university to desegregate. 
  • Notable alumni include golfer Arnold Palmer and basketball player Tim Duncan. 
  • Wake Forest was the first top 30 university to go test optional. 
  • When the school was founded, students were required to work on its plantation for half of each day, and the school’s original name was the “Wake Forest Labor Institute”. 
  • The school’s original campus is now a Baptist seminary.
Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

From an admitted student's perspective, I am incredibly grateful to have met Sasha - he has been instrumental in helping me achieve my educational dreams (Ivy League), all while being an absolute joy (he's a walking encyclopedia, only funnier!) to work with.

Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

That said, you need a good lawyer just like you need a good college counselor. And that's where Sasha distinguishes himself from the crowd of people claiming they'll get you into Harvard. I came to Sasha worried about and frankly dumbfounded by the college admissions process. I was unsure what to write about and how to go about drafting the essay that perfectly captured my passion, interests, and self. And I was highly skeptical that anyone could really help me. But, damn, did Sasha prove me wrong. From the beginning, Sasha amazed me with his understanding of the process, and ability to lend clarity and direction to me when I desperate needed it. After interviewing me about my background, experiences, activities, outlook, and vision, he helped me see qualities about myself I had not previously considered 'unique' or 'stand-out.' This process of understanding myself was so incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the essays I eventually wrote, and I'm certain I would've drafted boring, inauthentic essays without it.

Looking back, Sasha's talent is that he can see where your strengths lie, even when you don't see them. The truth is, although we don't always realize it, everyone has a unique story to tell. Sasha helped me see mine, and with his big-picture insight I was able to write the application that truly encapsulated my life and vision. He inspired me to dig deeper and write better, challenging me to revise and revise until my essays were the most passionate and authentic work I had ever written. As clichéd as that sounds, that's really what universities are looking for. In retrospect, it makes sense - in the real world passionate (not simply intelligent) individuals are the ones who make a difference in the world, and those are the individuals colleges would like to have associated with their brand.

In the end, I was accepted to the college of my dreams, a feat I could not have achieved without the direction Sasha lent to me. Essays (and the personal narrative you develop through your application) matter so much, and can literally make or break your application. I have seen so many of my 'qualified' friends receive rejections because they wrote contrived essays that didn't truly represent who they were; conversely, I have also seen so many friends with shorter resumes accepted because they were able to articulate their story in a genuinely passionate and authentic way - I fall into the latter category.

As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
Arda E.
I used Ivy Scholars to mainly help me with college applications. Within weeks of using this service, Sasha was able to simplify the already complex process. When it came to writing the Common App essay, Sasha didn’t just help with grammar and syntax, he brought my essays to life. Sasha also worked tirelessly to help solidify my extracurricular activities, including research and internship opportunities. Without his help, I would have never had an impressive resume.

Sasha is not only an extremely knowledgeable tutor, but also a genuine brother figure. His guidance, throughout my last two years of high school, was everything I needed to get me an acceptance letter from my dream schools (UC Berkeley, Tufts, Emory).

When it came to testing, Ivy Scholars worked like a charm. Sasha offered a very comprehensive plan when it came to completely acing my standardized tests. Without his test taking strategies I would have never gotten straight 5s on my AP tests and a 35 on the ACT.

Working with Sasha, I didn’t just become a good student, I became a genuine scholar.
Samson S.
We worked with Ivy Scholars during my son's senior year. I was concerned that we may be too late to take advantage of college advising but the Ivy Scholars team quickly and confidently directed us through the steps to ensure no deadlines were missed. Sasha's knowledge about schools, what they looked for in candidates, and how to maneuver the application process was invaluable. Mateo and Ryan worked with my son to help him create an essay that would get noticed and I am so appreciative he had their guidance.

Prior to securing Ivy Scholars, we tried using a less-expensive online service which was a terrible experience. As a parent, Ivy Scholars brought peace of mind to an area that was frankly overwhelming. This service was invaluable in the knowledge that we gained throughout the process. He has also met with my freshman daughter to provide guidance for her high school courses, career paths, extracurricular activities, and more.

Prior to signing with Ivy Scholars, I tried a less expensive online service and was very disappointed.

As a result of our work with Ivy Scholars, I am pleased to say that my son will be attending Stern Business School at New York University this fall! I highly recommend Ivy Scholars. Highly recommend!