How to Write the Wake Forest University Essays 2023-2024
Wake Forest University has one required short essay prompt and four optional short essays for all applicants. While you aren’t required to submit the additional three essays, we strongly recommend you submit these essays to demonstrate your full interest in the school and help the admissions officers get to know you even better.
With thousands of strong applicants applying to Wake Forest each year with similar GPAs and test scores, admissions officers value what they learn in an applicant’s essay, as it helps them distinguish between students to decide who they want at their school. In this post, we’ll share tips for writing the best Wake Forest essays possible to boost your chances of admission.
Wake Forest University Supplemental Essay Prompts
All Applicants, Required
Prompt 1: Why have you decided to apply to Wake Forest? Share with us anything that has made you interested in our institution. (150 words)
All Applicants, Optional
Prompt 2 (optional): List five books you’ve read that intrigued you.
Prompt 3 (optional): Tell us what piques your intellectual curiosity or has helped you understand the world’s complexity. This can include a work you’ve read, a project you’ve completed for a class, and even co-curricular activities in which you have been involved. (150 words)
Prompt 4 (optional): Dr. Maya Angelou, renowned author, poet, civil-rights activist, and former Wake Forest University Reynolds Professor of American Studies, inspired others to celebrate their identities and to honor each person’s dignity. Choose one of Dr. Angelou’s powerful quotes. How does this quote relate to your lived experience or reflect how you plan to contribute to the Wake Forest community? (300 words)
Prompt 5 (optional): Give us your Top Ten list. (The choice of theme is yours.)
Why have you decided to apply to Wake Forest? Share with us anything that has made you interested in our institution. (150 words)
This is a standard “Why This College?” prompt. You are only given 150 words to express why you want to attend this University, so make the most of your limited space by being as specific as possible.
You want to establish a tangible connection to Wake Forest. Examples of tangible connections might be the Theater in Education class you’re excited to take because it perfectly combines the passion for theater you developed in high school with your dream of being an English teacher. Another connection could be a beloved campus tradition you are aching to participate in, like Project Pumpkin or Lovefeast.
You could also discuss the campus culture you observed when you went for a tour, where you saw students collaborating and helping each other study on Hearn Plaza (Something like this also answers the part of the prompt asking about contact you’ve had with the school!).
Keep these tips in mind when you’re writing about tangible connections:
- Choose reasons that are unique to Wake Forest. Every school has an Introduction to Economics class or study abroad program. However, classes like The Italian Experience in America or Psychology of Memory are far less common.
- You will have more of an impact if you actually establish a connection. If you want to participate in the Wake ‘N Shake dance marathon, explain how you planned fundraisers for organizations in high school, and how you now want to give to the Wake Forest community.
- Don’t name-drop! Probably the most important tip is to elaborate on the connections you make to the University. Explain why you are interested in joining this specific club, or how studying with this professor will enhance your overall college experience.
- Quality over quantity is everything. The admissions committee will learn far more about you if you discuss two or three things that relate to your interests and experiences, rather than list ten different classes and clubs you want to join without any elaboration on any of them.
List five books you’ve read that intrigued you.
This prompt gives the admissions officers insight into your interests and perspectives through literature.
Before you just list the first five books that pop into your head, take some time to consider the importance of choosing the right books. This is an easy way for you to express your personality—simply by picking books that show you’re an experienced reader with intellectual drive, nuanced passions, and specific interests—to help you stand apart from all the other applicants. That being said, picking the books you were required to read in your AP Literature class might not accomplish everything you want.
The prompt asks you to pick books that have intrigued you. What does this mean? Well, you could pick a book you read that sparked your interest in the topic you want to major in. Perhaps you read a book about bioengineering that influenced your decision to pursue a career in that field. Or maybe you read Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s autobiography and that motivated you to become a public servant.
It’s important that you choose books that tie into your interests and aspirations—doing this demonstrates your personality, the types of people you look up to, and what kind of person you might become.
You don’t just have to pick books that are over 500 pages long and seem “impressive” for a high school student to have read. Don’t put down War and Peace if you struggled to get through the book and didn’t enjoy it. Consider including books that are meaningful to you and hold a special place in your heart. Maybe Green Eggs and Ham was the first book you ever read by yourself and it was the reason you started reading. If there is a book you used to read with your parents every night when you were little, you can also include that in your list.
When you’re compiling the list of five books, the most important thing to remember is that each book should reveal something about your personality. If you don’t feel a book is an accurate representation, try picking a different one.
Tell us what piques your intellectual curiosity or has helped you understand the world’s complexity. This can include a work you’ve read, a project you’ve completed for a class, and even co-curricular activities in which you have been involved. (150 words)
This prompt gives you two options to choose from. On the one hand, you could write an essay about a topic that interests you—but on the other hand, you can choose something that helps you make sense of the world around you. These things aren’t mutually exclusive though; something can both pique your interest and help you cope with the complexities of life.
Despite what you choose, the important thing is to demonstrate your intellect and broader way of thinking. Whether you’re sharing something you are passionate about or something that shapes your perspective, you need to make sure the admissions officers walk away knowing that you are a thoughtful student.
If you choose to write about something that piques your intellectual curiosity, the topic you pick is incredibly important.
Think about what interests you—something you could talk about for hours on end, or something you desperately want to find the answer to. Asking yourself these questions will help you come up with a topic that you can delve deeper into. You want to be sure your topic is not only exciting to you, but also that it can be connected to something more personal and intellectual.
For instance, a student who is fascinated by Latin American culture could discuss her interest in the Carnival celebrations of Brazil and how learning about these celebrations has helped her to connect with her Brazilian roots, as well as to the world history surrounding those roots.
Alternatively, a student could use this essay as an opportunity to discuss his favorite hobby. For example, a student who loves to collect coins could discuss how the sheer volume of coins produced fascinates him, how he’s gotten to meet people across the country because of his collection, and how coins have helped him develop a deeper understanding of the financial underpinnings of America.
Whatever route you decide to take in this essay, make sure you truly express the nuances of your fascination with the topic. As long as you can show how the topic sparked your desire to continue learning, whether that be about yourself or the world, you will be in good shape.
While “understanding the world’s complexity” might sound confusing, think about it in terms of any book you’ve read or academic concept you’ve researched that you think about in your daily life and use to cope when reality gets challenging.
If there’s a certain character who faced similar challenges to yourself and found a way to persevere, you might write a personal story about how that character inspires you. Or maybe you read a dystopian novel like The Hunger Games or 1984 that helped you see parallels between a fictional society and your own.
Just be careful—remember that if you choose a mainstream pop-culture text, your essay has to be very personal to show how the book affected you in a way different from anyone else. For example, anyone can say that Katniss from The Hunger Games helped you understand the importance of standing up for what is right.
Instead, you could consider talking about how the rebellion against the government in the novel made you look into injustices in your own country, and after seeing what Katniss was able to accomplish, you found the courage in yourself to reach out to local officials, or start a club in your school to demand change.
You might not approach this prompt with a book, but instead a topic or concept you’ve learned in school or independently that has stuck with you and influenced your worldview. Maybe you are fascinated by architecture so you approach global problems and societal issues the way you would a building by assessing the stability of the foundations, how well the materials mesh together, and so on.
Or, perhaps studying social psychology on your own has helped you understand the psychological factors that make social media addictive so you can detach yourself from the digital world more easily.
Dr. Maya Angelou, renowned author, poet, civil-rights activist, and former Wake Forest University Reynolds Professor of American Studies, inspired others to celebrate their identities and to honor each person’s dignity. Choose one of Dr. Angelou’s powerful quotes. How does this quote relate to your lived experience or reflect how you plan to contribute to the Wake Forest community? (300 words)
One of the benefits of this prompt is it allows you to choose any quote from Maya Angelou, giving you freedom to take your essay in any direction you want. If you aren’t familiar with Maya Angelou already, we recommend you spend some time learning about her incredible life and impact so that you’ll be able to better understand some of the context behind her quotes.
While you can find plenty of quotes online, you might also consider reading some of her books and poems to find more unique quotes (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a great place to start). It’s important that you choose a quote that will allow you to discuss your experiences and connect them to Wake Forest. Don’t just pick a quote that just sounds “deep”—pick what resonates with you the most.
We’ll now go through some sample quotes and the types of essays students might write in response to this prompt.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
A student who loves to write might choose this quote to describe his desire to share the stories inside of him with the world. He could start the essay by explaining his wild imagination and how he is always coming up with fantasy worlds inside his head. However, he felt like no one would want to hear his made-up stories, so he kept them to himself and never shared them. He understood the agony Angelou wrote about, the agony of feeling like his voice wouldn’t be heard.
However, when his English teacher praised his creativity in a poem he wrote for class, it gave him the confidence to start writing short stories and to share them with his teacher. When he finally started telling the stories inside of him, he felt fulfilled. He experienced an overwhelming sense of pride when other people enjoyed his stories. He can’t wait to submit short stories to the Old Gold and Black (Wake Forest’s student newspaper) and share his imagination with his peers in Short Story Workshop and Advanced Fiction Writing at Wake Forest.
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
A student who is very bubbly and optimistic could pick this quote and describe her attitude towards negative situations. Maybe she tells a story about a close friend who lost a parent and how it broke her heart to see her friend experience so much pain. She could describe how she was there for her friend to cheer her up and take her mind off of her grief.
For this type of essay, it’s important to note that the focus is still on the student herself and on how she was affected and responded to her friend’s pain—after all, she’s the person applying to Wake Forest, not her friend.
Her experience with her friend taught her that sometimes optimism doesn’t work in every situation and occasionally, the best way to help someone is to just be a shoulder to cry on. Although deep down she will still be high-spirited, she will take what she learned with her to Wake Forest and support her friends and peers in a variety of ways depending on the context.
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.”
A student who has engaged in activism might like this quote because it allows them to discuss their approach to fighting for what they believe in. They might write about how their school was planning on cutting funding for the band, which was devastating to this student, who had found a community in band and who didn’t want younger students to be denied the opportunity to find friends through band.
While most of their friends shrugged off the news saying they couldn’t do anything, the student decided to stand up and fight back against the decision. They wrote a petition and gathered hundreds of signatures, which they then brought in front of the school board in the form of a presentation. When the school board refused to allocate money for the band, the student organized their peers to campaign against the passing of the school budget.
Although they were ultimately unsuccessful at overturning the decision, the act of fighting for what they believed in was extremely fulfilling and motivated the student to get involved with local politics, which they are planning to continue by joining the Wake Forest Student Government.
Give us your Top Ten list. (The choice of theme is yours.)
The final prompt is where applicants get to use all their creativity, so don’t hold back! Like the first optional prompt, this one asks students to make a list. Unlike that prompt, however, Wake Forest doesn’t provide any specifications as to what the list should include.
The first few things that come to your head will probably be generic—favorite movies, bucket list destinations, favorite singers, favorite foods. However, we urge you to give this prompt some thought and come up with a really creative list that is distinctively you.
- Instead of your favorite movies, try top 10 scenes you rewatch
- Instead of bucket list destinations, try top 10 places to watch the sunset
- Instead of your favorite singers, try top 10 songs about the summer
- Instead of your favorite foods, try top 10 best kitchen utensils
You might also consider something even more personal, such as:
- Top 10 ways that people have misspelled your name
- Top 10 moments that you knew you were the middle child
- Top 10 phrases you say all the time
- Top 10 times you cried while watching a movie
While these examples are fun and more creative, the bottom line is that this question is all about you and your personality. Just be cautious and don’t pick things that require more than a few words—you’re only allotted 100 characters per response. Picking your top 10 quotes might be a cool idea, but you may not have the space for it.
At the end of the day, admissions officers are using this question to see how creative you are and what interests you, so make sure that your personality shines through, no matter what you choose to write about.
Where to Get Your Wake Forest University Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your Wake Forest essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!