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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Wake Forest

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Were you to happen upon Wake Forest’s campus accidentally, you might initially mistake it for a members-only country club. With its manicured lawns, stately buildings, and winding drives, this community is one that beckons at first glance.

It doesn’t take long to realize that the school’s culture is just as welcoming and warm as its grounds. With its emphasis on “educating the whole person” and dedication to bettering entire societies rather than individual students—its motto is Pro Humanitate, “for Humanity”—Wake Forest is a university that emphasizes the importance of humanitarian pursuits alongside educational ones and accordingly supports its students to achieve all manner of academic and extracurricular successes.


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.


Let’s Talk About Wake Forest

Initially founded in 1834, Wake Forest is a private, co-ed liberal arts university that now finds its home in Winston-Salem, NC. It is currently ranked on the country’s list Top Ten schools for stellar quality of life, due in large part to its campus culture. Wake enrolls just under 5,000 students per year, making it a healthily mid-sized undergraduate community. Its acceptance rate is highly competitive, coming in at roughly 34%, and its athletic teams participate in the ACC (Division I) conference.

Wake Forest students are known for their warmth, spirit, and energy; various campus traditions—such as “Rolling the Quad,” where the entire student body wraps trees in toilet paper—foster strong inter-student camaraderie, and community service as well figures largely into the campus’ ethos of general betterment. Meanwhile, Wake’s home city, Winston-Salem, boasts thriving cultural attractions all throughout the year, from the Western Film Fair and Winter Dance Concert to the National Black Theatre Festival and “Tour de Food.” And if you are planning to study abroad, Wake owns and operates three separate international houses—one in Vienna, one in Venice, and one in London—and offers its students access to programs in over 200 worldwide cities.

Wake Forest prides itself on the breadth of academic opportunities it offers its students. Students can take a variety of classes in Film Studies, English, Humanities, East Asian Languages and Literatures, Political Science, and Counseling, to name just a few. As well, Wake offers slightly more pre-vocational options like “Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise” and “Finance” for students are so inclined. Wake Forest allows for the possibility to study any combination of a major and minor; in turn, its students gladly take advantage of this opportunity. It is common for Wake student to study both a major and a minor, and often, these two are unrelated topics of study. Wake Forest also proudly boasts stellar job placement services, and has a near perfect success rate in finding employment for its seniors seeking jobs well before they graduate.


Paying for a Wake Forest Education: Tuition, Financial Aid, Deadlines, and other Fun Things

Wake Forest’s undergraduate tuition currently costs $41,120, while room and board is an additional $12,998. Wake guarantees housing for 100% of freshmen and 77% of upperclassmen, so a full year of tuition plus room and board comes out to $64,478 as per Wake Forest’s admission viewbook.

If you are unable to pay out of pocket, Wake Forest offers both need-based and merit-based financial aid to prospective students, but the application processes for each of these differs. Likewise, the deadlines for applying for each of these are dependent upon the deadline you have chosen for your application to the college (Early Decision, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision).

First, let’s discuss the process of applying for each type of aid, as they differ from each other. If you plan to apply for need-based financial aid, you will need to fill out 3 forms: the Free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a CSS/PROFILE, and copies of official 2015 federal income tax forms. Wake Forest is part of a small group of universities that pledges to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need, so if you think that you might be eligible for need-based aid based on Wake Forest’s criteria (outlined here), you should certainly plan to submit these forms and apply  for the attendant aid.

If you plan to apply for need-based aid, be sure to submit your forms by the appropriate deadlines. Early Decision applicants must submit their need-based aid requests by November 15 and can expect to hear back as soon as Dec. 1 if they are offered admission. Early Decision II applicant must submit their paperwork by January 1 and will receive notification of an award if they are offered admission as early as February 15. Regular decision applicants need to submit their forms by January 1 and will receive a response as early as April 1.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest offers several merit-based scholarship to less than 3% of its incoming students each year. The Reynolds, Carswell, Stamps, and Gordon Scholarships do not require a separate application in addition to the application to the college. All students who apply to Wake Forest are considered for these scholarships so long as they apply before December 1, and winners are rewarded for different combinations of achievement, talent, and leadership. Likewise, just as it is not necessary to complete an interview for the college application, it is not necessary to complete an interview to be considered for these scholarships. It is important to note, though, that most students who are awarded these scholarships did participate in an interview for the school.

As well, there are two merit-based scholarships that do require additional applications to the one for college admission. The Presidential Scholarship for Distinguished Achievement is a talent-based award requiring a separate application that is due November 15. Similarly, the William Louis Poteat Scholarship awards North Carolinians who are active in the Baptist Church; this scholarship requires a recommendation from a member of the applicant’s church. As well, Wake Forest awards Army ROTC Scholarships to some applicants.

There is one family of scholarships that is both need- and merit-based. Early Decision applicants who plan to apply for need-based aid can as well apply separately for the Brown, Fletcher, Heritage, Hankins, Kutteh, Lowden, K.W. Smith, Z.T. Smith, and Woodard scholarships.


Applying to Wake Forest

There are four different ways to apply to Wake Forest, and the admissions committee has no preference as to which you utilize. You can apply through the Common App; by using the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Application; by filling out the school’s online application; or by sending Wake’s application by mail.

As you are filling out your application to Wake, whether it is through the Common App or the university itself, you should know that Wake Forest is “test optional.” 

If you choose to fill out Wake Forest’s application through the University’s website, you will come to a page that looks like this.

The first section, entitled “You and Your Family” is largely self explanatory and should not be too stressful to fill out. Likewise, the following section entitled “Your Accomplishments” mimics the similarly named section of the Common App. You can pretty much lift your extracurricular information from there and put it here.

It is important to note that Wake Forest does NOT prefer its applicants submit a resume and has specifically designed this section to fulfill the purpose that your resume would. In light of this, the Activities section on the Wake-specific application is followed by a section entitled “Work Experience,” which looks like this:

If there is any outstanding information on your resume that did not make it into the “Activities” section of the application, you may include those experiences here.

Next, you’ll come to the section entitled “Your Thoughts.” This functions as the supplemental essay section of Wake’s application. Here is the first question you’ll be expected to answer, along with its attendant instructions:


Use the following essay to give the admissions committee insight into your character and intellect.

In 2017, Transcending Boundaries will be a defining theme at Wake Forest. What boundaries have played a role in shaping the individual you are today? How will you engage the Wake Forest community to expand your view of the world?


Following this, you’ll come to a series of supplements that are labeled “In Brief,” with the following directions:

The text of these questions are as follows:

  1.     a. List five books you have read that piqued your curiosity
  2. Discuss a work of fiction you read on your own, and tell us why it should have been required.
  3.     What have you done to challenge or change that which outrages you?
  4.     58% of Wake Forest’s Class of 2015 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.
  5.     Increased globalization and enhanced digitization are bringing people from different backgrounds and parts of the world much closer. Please describe what you have learned as a result of meaningfully engaging with someone different from you.
  6.     Give us your top ten list
  7.     Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton has become a cultural phenomenon. It weaves together history with rap and hip-hop through the often-overlooked story of Alexander Hamilton. Choose an unsung historical figure who deserves the “Hamilton” treatment.
  8.     Imagine it is May 2021; your ideal Wake Forest University commencement speaker is:
  9.     Title your autobiography:

For an in-depth analysis on how to respond to these questions, follow this link to our Wake-Forest dedicated guide to writing supplemental essays.


Interviewing and Visiting: Do They Matter?

Wake Forest offers interview to a limited number of students, both on campus and remotely through Skype. Though interviews are not a mandatory element of the application, they are highly encouraged. Thus, you should schedule an interview at your earliest convenience if you are seriously considering Wake Forest as an option for college. Not only does Wake Forest greatly value the opportunity to get to speak to you in person, but they weigh demonstrated interest considerably in the application process.

In this vein, Wake encourages its students to visit the campus if possible. If it is possible for you economically and logistically, you should certainly consider visiting the school to see for yourself all that it has to offer. If it is not possible for you, you need not worry.


Odds and Ends: Things to Note When Applying

Most importantly, note this: Wake Forest used to be test optional, but this is no longer the case. Currently, their website is a bit confusing because it is not fully updated. Do not let this mislead you and wait until the last minute to submit your SAT or ACT scores.

As well, note that one teacher recommendation must be submitted with your application. Since the school specifically notes on its teacher recommendation form that only “one recommendation is sufficient,” we advise you to refrain from submitting more than that unless you have an exceptional case and solid reasons for submitting a second. In general, adcoms value your ability to follow directions and respect their requests first and foremost.


Date Central

Wake Forest offers three different application cycles in which its students may apply: Early Decision, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. The relevant deadlines for each cycle are below.

Early Decision

Application Due: Application Due: November 15, along with the Early Decision Agreement form

Application Decisions Released: Notified on a rolling basis only. Applicants will either be accepted, deferred to the Regular Decision applicant pool, or not accepted.


Early Decision II: January 1, along with the Early Decision Agreement form

Application Decisions Released: Notified by mail only, with letters released sometime around February 15. ED II students are either accepted, offered a spot on the wait list, or not accepted.


Regular Decision

Application Due: January 1, along with your $65 application fee, a Secondary School Report form, a teacher recommendation form, you official high school transcript, and your SAT scores.

Application Decisions Released: Notified by April 1. You will be either accepted, offered a spot on the wait list, or denied.


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Lily Calcagnini
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Lily is a History and Literature concentrator at Harvard University who is doing her darnedest to write a thesis about all of her favorite things at once: fashion, contemporary culture, art journalism, and Europe. A passionate learner, she cares deeply about helping high school students navigate the process of college admissions, whether it be through private essay tutoring or sharing advice on the CollegeVine blog.