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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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How to Write the Wake Forest University Application Essays 2017-2018

Founded in 1834, Wake Forest University is located in the suburban North Carolina town of Winston-Salem. With approximately 4,800 undergraduates enrolled in either Wake Forest College or the Wake Forest School of Business, Wake Forest is respected for its personalized attention to students and challenging liberal arts curriculum, as well as for its resources as a large research institution.


With its motto of “Pro Humanitate” (for humanity), students at Wake Forest are encouraged to volunteer, whether in the local community or around the world. Students also gain international experience through the study-abroad program, with approximately 60 percent of undergraduates taking advantage of this opportunity offered in more than 70 countries.


In 2017, Wake Forest admitted approximately 37% of Early Decision applicants and 25% of Regular Decision applicants. Wake Forest currently stands at #27 in the U.S. News and World Report 2017 National University Rankings. In addition to the Common App essay (which you can learn more from the CollegeVine blog post How to Write the Common Application Essays 2017-2018), Wake Forest requires 7 short essays. (To view the essay prompts for hundreds of schools, check out our Essay Prompts Database.)


While these prompts may seem intimidating at first, our essay specialists team here at CollegeVine will help you tackle Wake Forest’s 2017-2018 application to the best of your ability!


Want to learn what Wake Forest University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Wake Forest University needs to know.

Wake Forest Application Essay Prompts

Prompt #1

59% of Wake Forest’s Class of 2017 received academic credit for faculty-directed research across academic disciplines. Describe a specific high school assignment that sparked an academic curiosity you hope to explore further in college. (75-150 words)

The first thing to note here is the length of the essay. With a maximum of 150 words, it’s possible (but not necessary) to have a short introductory sentence. However, since the space available for response is so limited, there is no need to summarize or include a concluding sentence.


For this prompt, there are no gimmicks; take the question literally. Essentially, admissions officers are looking for a genuine academic interest sparked by a task that might have been unusual or difficult. To begin to answer this question, first brainstorm for an activity to write about.

Best-case scenario, you have had an assignment that has the following two qualities:

An interesting assignment format –


  • Although it is possible that you developed an academic curiosity from a routine problem set or essay, it is more common that an interest is inspired by unique or hands-on assignments. That’s because they are typically difficult or in-depth, requiring the amount of research and work that teaches more about a subject than, say, a simple problem set.


  • Examples of these include building hands-on models, intensive research, presentations, a math/science/literature project on an unconventional topic (i.e., a video game, a musical phenomenon, etc.) — essentially anything that’s not routine or busywork.


Relates to your field of study –


  • Although not required, it would be best if your assignment does relate to your field of study. You might notice that Wake Forest doesn’t have a “Why Major?” question, and that’s because this prompt serves as its substitute. So when brainstorming, try to think of an assignment that is either about the subject or directly related to your major.


  •  So if you’re a STEM major, research on the use of regenerative stem cells in curbing Alzheimer’s symptoms would be appropriate. Similarly, people pursuing degrees in the social sciences or humanities could write about a thought-provoking discussion question posed by an AP Literature teacher about the renowned Russian novel Crime and Punishment. Or even a policy debate paper on the strengths and weaknesses of the current immigration system in the European Union.

If you are a prospective mechanical engineering major who built a life-sized trebuchet in your freshman design class, feel free to write about that. Or, if you are applying as a math major and proved from scratch the derivative rules in your pre-calculus class as an interest assignment, that would be a great topic too.


Admittedly, it can be pretty difficult to think of an assignment that fits these guidelines so well. So if you can’t think of a high school assignment that’s a) unique and b) related to your field of study, try thinking of any moment that you truly enjoyed in an academic setting, even if it is not an “assignment” by traditional definition or related to your major.


By pinpointing a moment or time frame of interest, you can then dig deeper into that incident and potentially come up with material for your essay. Taking a previous suggestion as an example, if you were particularly intrigued by a question in a literature discussion, then was there anything you did in response to it? Did you perhaps go to find your teacher during office hours to continue the discussion, culminating in an essay you penned for the school newspaper or literary magazine?


Next, once you’ve brainstormed and described the interesting assignment, it’s best to explain what you learned and how that newfound knowledge has sparked your interest. For example, a Gender Studies major may have done a poster presentation on the history of feminism and now holds an appreciation for the historic roots of the movement.


Giving these details will paint a clearer picture of your interest for the admissions officers. Again, this prompt is essentially serving as a “Why Major?” substitute, so admissions officers hope to learn the backstory of your academic interests through this essay. With these guidelines, you will definitely weave a more compelling narrative!

Prompt #2

Discuss the work of fiction you have read which has helped you most to understand the complexity of the world. (100-300 words)

For this prompt, Wake Forest is asking you to prove that you have both the empathy and critical thinking skills to derive meaning from works that may not be directly related to your own life. These skills, in turn, will be of great value to any college student! To approach this prompt, first choose the book about which you want to write. (Although “work of fiction” doesn’t necessarily specify a book, it’s typically more meaningful to write about a book, as opposed to a TV show or movie, since written words leave the most room for interpretation.)


You can write about a classic, but if you do, try to avoid writing about something that you’ve read from school (e.g., 1984, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter) because it is likely that many, many others are writing about the same. But if the only thing you’ve read (in recent memory) is a school book, choose that over something you read recreationally from long ago.


Once you choose your book, your next goal is to demonstrate your interpretation of the world and how your chosen text has helped shaped this perspective. For this essay, one way to do this is by explaining how the book has made you more empathetic to unfairness of random luck that everyone is subjected to, or how the text has motivated you to assume an active role in political events.


For example, The Book Thief may have cemented your understanding of the nuances of human emotions during World War II, or The Kite Runner may have introduced you to the intricacy of early 20th-century Middle Eastern conflicts. With a relatively high word limit of up to 300, you can spend time explaining your perspective before reading the book and contrast it with your perspective afterwards. Including specific details from the book would be especially convincing to admissions officers.


Finally, wrap up the essay by generalizing your new viewpoint on this particular political event to your novel perspective on the world as a whole. This illustrates to Wake Forest University your ability to learn from all mediums, and your ability to reflect on other’s trauma or difficult experiences as your own.

Prompt #3

Give us your top ten list. First, please provide a theme. (Fit into application box)

Along with Prompt #7, this essay is your chance to show something about you that is not depicted by any other part of your application. Take this essay as your chance to be quirky or satirical, or simply take a literary risk!


If you are having difficulty thinking of a possible theme, think about your culture and your relationships with family and friends. In both the Common App and other supplemental essays, it is rare that students reveal information about interpersonal relationships (e.g., “Top Ten Songs to Play on Car Rides with Mom”) or cultural norms (e.g., “Top Ten Foods When You Miss Home”). You could definitely use this essay to address personal aspects of you that don’t demonstrate your academic prowess, but simply show what you value in life.

Prompt #4

How did you become interested in Wake Forest University, and why are you applying? (150 words)

This essay prompt is self-explanatory, and with only 150 words, you should be fairly straightforward. When discussing how you became interested in Wake Forest, it would be best to use a personal anecdote (as opposed to, for example, saying that you became interested in Wake Forest after seeing it on the list of top U.S. colleges)!


When discussing why you are applying to Wake Forest, take a look at what the university prides itself on providing. These points of pride include the rigorous liberal arts curriculum, small class size and professor attention, undergraduate research, philanthropic culture, study-abroad programs, and an accepting community. Include some of these key factors with a personalized twist.


For example, instead of writing about the renowned professors who are extraordinarily accomplished in their respective academic fields, write about one or two instructors who you are especially excited to work with on your humanitarian research concerning global immigration policy for refugees. Providing these key, personal details differentiates your essay from the sea of other applications writing about the same key characteristics of Wake Forest.


If you are applying Early Decision, include a memorable moment that cemented your determination to commit to the school. Did you have an “aha” moment when you visited the campus and were given a tour by a student when she saw you poking your head into the laboratories during one of her classes? Or did you attend a class and fall in love with the sharp insight that the professor provided on the current criminal justice system in the United States? Whatever the case may be, especially if you’ve visited the campus, remember to include any personal anecdotes about Wake Forest.

Prompt #5

What have you learned about yourself from engaging with someone different from you? (75-150 words)

With a relatively low word count, this essay would best be satisfied with a short anecdote of a time when you’ve spoken with, met, or debated with someone different from you. Generally speaking, it would be better to speak about a time when you engaged with someone closer to you rather than with a stranger. This is mainly because, although there are exceptions, it is far more believable that you learned a profound lesson from someone who you’ve known for years than from someone who you’ve only known for a few minutes.


Let’s also remember that “different from you” is a very vague description that could refer to ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, or simply life experiences.

Some possibilities include:


  • Ethnicity – Perhaps you learned about and began to identify racial microaggressions when you asked to touch an African-American friend’s hair, and they became very uncomfortable.


  • Socioeconomic status – If you grew up in a middle-upper class home and have a friend who works part-time to pay the bills, an encounter with him or her at the fast food restaurant near your house may have taught you about the injustices that occur in your backyard and reminded you to be grateful for your privileges.


  • Religion – An experience with a Muslim friend may have taught you that media interpretations of Islam are vastly sensationalized and that Islam is truly a religion of peace.


  • Life experiences – If you grew up in a household with two parents, your conversations and experiences with friends in single-parent households may have taught you the importance of a strong family support system.

Even the most homogeneous of communities have some distinctions between families. Utilize these distinctions to explain how you’ve become more accepting, philanthropic, or open-minded — all qualities that Wake Forest embodies and expects.

Prompt #6

While divisions in American politics suggests that the art of persuasion has lost value, dialogue and debate help define the Wake Forest community. On what issue do you wish to persuade others? What is your argument? (75-150 words)

Here, Wake Forest University wants to know that you care deeply about an issue that is greater than yourself. As we mentioned in the beginning, Wake Forest’s very motto proves its commitment to philanthropy. While it is possible to write about something silly (e.g., “gif” vs. “jif,” chunky vs. smooth peanut butter), given that Wake Forest mentions American politics in the essay prompt, it would be best to write about something more serious.


Here, the fairly low word count means that the best method may be to employ a personal anecdote to “argue” for an issue that directly affects you. This not only answers the question but also provides yet another dimension of your personality and personal history. If you cannot think of an issue that directly affects you, try to think of a current event or controversy that affects someone else in your life (like a friend, grandparent, etc.), to give your argument the benefit of pathos. Some topics that come to mind are travel ban, current debate surrounding immigration policy, and how proposed changes to the H-1B visa will affect the medical industry and prospective doctors.

Prompt #7

You have a popular podcast. What’s the title? What’s the topic? (Fit into application box)

This essay serves as your final chance to make a lasting impression on Wake Forest’s admissions officers. You’ve already spoken extensively about your love for the school, the origins of your academic passions, your “top ten,” and your life’s defining moments and works. Here, Wake Forest is looking for a topic that you are passionate about, which is unrelated to academics.


Take this essay as a final chance to humanize yourself and prove that you’re not a robot trying to get into college! You can do that by writing about a hobby or passion that you did purely for enjoyment and not necessarily “for the resume.”


If you love freestyle rapping in your free time, entitle your podcast “The Key to an Easy Groove” or something more humorous. If you love knitting, entitle it “The Key to a Good Weave,” or something along those lines. In the same vein, I would caution you from writing about something that your extracurricular activities already prove; for example, if your application includes a slew of awards for debate, try to avoid writing more a podcast that gives tips on becoming a good lawyer.


Good luck with your Wake Forest University application!


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