Duke and Wake Forest

<p>I'm visiting both this summer. From the research I've done (quite a bit), I love both of these schools. They seem to both be "work hard, play hard" places. What are the major differences between the schools? (Besides prestige...I'm well aware that Duke is more prestigious)</p>

<p>Both are great schools. Wake is more of a "southern" school, while Duke is more of a northern school in a southern setting. Winston-Salem is a better city than Durham, although Durham is closer to other areas in the "triangle" (mainly Raleigh and Chapel Hill). Both have great school spirit.</p>

<p>Personally, I think Wake's black football uniforms are some of the best around, but I don't think that should factor into your decision too heavily. :)</p>

<p>I feel like Wake has a more LAC-like feel, while Duke has more of a major research university feel. Some gravitate towards one of those more than the other. I guess it's because Duke has 6,500 grad and professional students, while Wake only has 2,400. Although certainly it's not like Colby vs. UTexas different. Both are in the same athletic conference and in what I consider the sweet-spot of size. Winston-Salem is a small town of 20,000 people. Durham is 10x the size at 200,000+ and is part of the 1 million+ in population research triangle - close to Chapel Hill and Raleigh. So, maybe you want more of the small-town feel, or not. I don't know. It's personal preference. Certainly, Duke is nowhere near a "big city" school, though, and it's west campus is fairly isolated from the city. Just some things to consider...I'd agree that Wake is a bit more Southern....I think you'll learn a lot from visiting and see what feels better, but note that when visiting schools in the summer they seem INCREDIBLY different than if you had visited during the year when students are around. So just because they're seemingly empty doesn't mean that nothing goes on during the year. :)</p>

<p>thanks for the responses so far! the information is really helpful :) </p>

<p>any other thoughts anyone?!</p>

<p>I'm going to chime in from the standpoint of a parent who has visited both schools 2 years ago during spring break and then let you draw your own conclusions. We visited Duke first. We were at least a half hour early for our info session, and there was no parking available. Ended up paying to park in a Duke gardens lot about a half mile away. There were seats for about 100 people at the info session, perhaps 200 people were in attendance. Then we had the tour, led by a very smug, unfriendly young woman. The message that I took away from the experience was that Duke has 10 applicants for every seat and does not have to try all that hard.</p>

<p>Then we visited Wake Forest. Plenty of parking at the admissions building. Plenty of seating at the info session. Extremely friendly tour guide. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and if that means southern - well I'll take some of that! We stopped into the admissions office to use the restrooms before leaving - heading out to our next stop - UVA. The receptionist overheard us saying something about directions to Charlottesville and she actually pulled a photocopied sheet out of her drawer and handed it to us! I was astonished. She said that a lot of people do the same route of school tours and asked for directions, so she had them ready.</p>

<p>Fast forward 2 years - S1 just finished his freshman year at wake Forest and he had a great time. He has enjoyed his classes and loves the school spirit he finds at Wake. And I know, that any time I call Wake - whether it is the financial aid office, or residence life and housing - that I will be speaking with a polite and friendly person who will answer my questions.</p>

<p>
[quote]
whether it is the financial aid office, or residence life and housing - that I will be speaking with a polite and friendly person who will answer my questions.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Do you mean that those persons who are staffing the offices at Wake never have a bad day?</p>

<p>Wake's campus is pretty but I find it a bit too uniform, a bit boring. Duke, on the other hand, is more elegant. I also like that there's more diversity at Duke.</p>

<p>Rockville mom captured some differences that are often seen between Duke and Wake. </p>

<p>Duke can be a pretty arrogant place. The kids there are smart superachievers and fiercely proud of their school, but sometimes express this in an obnoxious or off-putting manner. But Duke is also a darn impressive place and many of the kids that come out of there are indistinguishable from the best coming from any college in the USA. IMO the kids at Duke possess high intellectual octane, but sometimes also heavier personal baggage. In this regard, they remind me of some of their Ivy peers. </p>

<p>By contrast, Wake is a very grounded place, almost to the point of being self-effacing. The kids there are smart, but not in a lightening bolt kind of way. As at Duke, Wake students are very proud of their school and it is widely known that their graduates are EXTREMELY well-prepared for post-graduate life. The Wake faculty don’t suffer entitlement and you know that kids coming out of Wake have had to earn their way. Simply put, the vast majority of Wake people are smart and reliable-people you’d like, people you’d trust, and people that you know would be good additions to a workplace that values teamwork. </p>

<p>I’d favor Duke and its higher level of overall excellence, but Wake also has a lot to recommend it. Both places can be the right place, but there are differences and there are trade-offs that not everyone will weigh equally.</p>

<p>thank you so much for your input, everyone! i hope my visit at duke is more pleasant, rockvillemom. the arrogance on their part definitely put me off...i never realized they were like that :( on a better note i am so glad to hear that your son is enjoying his experience at wake! it's very high on my list right now, so it's always assuring when i hear about people's positive experiences there. </p>

<p>@hawkette, what personal baggage do the kids have at duke that remind you of their ivy peers? i am curious about this thought so if you could expand, i would really appreciate it! :)</p>

<p>
[quote]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------</p>

<p>I'm visiting both this summer. From the research I've done (quite a bit), I love both of these schools. They seem to both be "work hard, play hard" places. What are the major differences between the schools? (Besides prestige...I'm well aware that Duke is more prestigious)

[/quote]

Both are great schools and was once considered by myself. I think Wake Forest University student body feels more like a private school and probably more conservative not socially but like life style, clothing etc... Duke is big in sports, and although WFU has a college scene I think Duke is much bigger. Again this could be due to the school sport teams pride in the city or elsewhere around the country.</p>

<p>I think our love and pride for Duke incorrectly comes off as arrogance ;)</p>

<p>apply to both, see which one you get accepted at, and figure it out from there.</p>

<p>I live about 45 minutes from Duke, and my dad attended Wake back in the day so I have some experience with these two schools...though I chose to go to UNC :) I have to second everyone else's comments about Duke's students coming off as arrogant. That's something I've noticed ever since I started high school & started thinking about colleges...I'm not a big fan of Duke's environment in that regard. Wake is more Southern and naturally just seems more welcoming than Duke, which I've always liked. That being said, both schools have a large percentage of students from the North. My dad, who is from Winston-Salem, didn't really like that about Wake. I personally think Winston-Salem as a town is more fun and enjoyable. Durham has its good points (and Southpoint has to be my favorite mall EVER) but I just find Winston-Salem overall more enjoyable.</p>

<p>I do have to say though, my dad only spent a year at Wake, and left mostly for family reasons, but he thought their academics were really overrated & not quite as good as everyone made them out to be. He was going there for journalism & just thought it was a joke. That's something you don't hear about Wake very often, but I've heard similar things about Duke's undergrad programs from people who have even worked there. A little strange, if you ask me, but it's whatever I guess.</p>

<p>"Winston-Salem is a small town of 20,000 people"</p>

<p>Small correction. Winston-Salem has a population of over 225,000, and is the fourth-largest city in North Carolina.</p>

<p>Both schools are some of my favorites. I very nearly went to Wake because I liked it so much (and $$$), and I graduated from Duke. </p>

<p>I both agree and disagree with people's comments about the student bodies at Duke and Wake Forest. On the one hand, I vehemently disagree with hawkette that Duke students are generally obnoxious or arrogant. I've certainly met some, yes, but in large part Duke students are extraordinarily grounded and friendly - regrettably, much more so than at my current university. I spent quite a lot of time over at UNC as well, and the two student bodies are virtually indistinguishable on this point.</p>

<p>On the other hand, I won't deny that Wake Forest was hands down the friendliest of the colleges I've visited, and I've seen quite a few. It has a very warm and fuzzy feeling that's quite appealing.</p>

<p>
[quote]
What are the major differences between the schools?

[/quote]

Duke and Wake Forest are similar in some ways, but they also have some notable differences.</p>

<p>Size - As was noted, Wake has a smaller undergrad student body and a significantly smaller graduate population. This lends itself to feeling like an oversized LAC. Duke, while still extremely focused on undergraduates, is very much a research university. </p>

<p>Campus - Wake Forest has a lovely campus with brick and magnolias. Duke has three campuses. East is Georgian, Central is mundane wood and brick, and West is Gothic. Oak is typically the tree of choice. The campus at Wake covers about 350 acres; Duke's main campuses cover a little over 1000 acres, with an additional 50 acres of gardens and 8000 acres of forest. </p>

<p>Location - Winston-Salem is nicer than Durham, but you really need a car to make good use of the city. Durham is ok, but Ninth Street is pretty nice and convenient, and Duke has a bus that takes you to certain nearby areas like the mall. The Robertson bus (runs every 30 min) takes you to Chapel Hill and/or Carrboro, both of which are very nice and have a great music scene.</p>

<p>Athletics - Wake has traditionally been a basketball school with increasing emphasis on football. Duke is traditionally a basketball and lacrosse school, with pretty strong offerings in other areas. Duke has tenting, which is either wonderfully unique or insane, depending on your view. Wake's comparable tradition is TP'ing their own quad after a win. The Cameron Crazies are perhaps a little more spirited than the Screamin' Deacons, but really it's just preference. </p>

<p>Academics - Wake is smaller and offers more personal attention, but it also offers fewer classes. Surprisingly, Duke is larger but offers smaller classes. The two are roughly comparable for fields like biology, anthropology, or English, but Duke gets the edge in more specialized disciplines (classics, earth sciences, public policy, etc.). Duke has a very nice art museum, and Wake has a decent anthropology museum. It's worth noting that engineering is not available at Wake.</p>

<p>Housing - Both have pretty nice housing. Freshmen at Duke are put on a separate campus, whereas Wake's are more integrated. </p>

<p>Dining - The food is maybe a little better at Wake, but Duke has more variety. Take your pick.</p>

<p>Social scenes - Both have pretty good social scenes. Greek life is prominent at both schools, but the advantage of a larger university is more extracurricular offerings, and it's easier to have fun if you're not interested in Greek life (I wasn't).</p>

<p>Diversity - This is perhaps the one area in which Duke significantly wins out over Wake Forest, as Duke is much more diverse - racially/ethnically, socioeconomically, geographically, and by virtually every other measure. As an LGBT student, I felt much more at home at Duke than I did at Wake Forest; the former is extremely welcoming of such students, whereas the latter still has a ways to go. </p>

<p>Hopefully this was helpful and not too biased.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I spent quite a lot of time over at UNC as well, and the two student bodies are virtually indistinguishable on this point.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Great post, and this is the only part I disagree with. I find UNC's student body to be hugely different from Duke's student body; UNC is much closer to Wake (more southern, more Caucasian, and more fratty) in terms of student body composition.</p>

<p>^
I agree with that. I was talking more about the degree of friendliness rather than the actual composition, which is admittedly different. The description of Duke as a northern school in the South is pretty accurate, but it does have the southern friendliness nonetheless.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I agree with that. I was talking more about the degree of friendliness rather than the actual composition, which is admittedly different. The description of Duke as a northern school in the South is pretty accurate, but it does have the southern friendliness nonetheless.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Ah, I see. No disagreements here; the Dukies that I've met have all been pretty friendly.</p>

<p>I'm a rising senior, but last year I went down to visit Davidson, Wake Forest, and Duke (in that order). My parents are both alumni of Duke, so that might make me slightly biased so take what I say as you will. I didn't really get to interact a lot at the schools or learn a lot about their academics while I was there, the major thing I focused on was envisioning myself there in a couple years. Duke's architecture was a lot more varied, but mostly Gothic which appealed a lot to me. Wake's campus seemed to be older and the buildings were a lot similar (at least in comparison to Duke). Duke's campus was also a lot larger, but I didn't mind because there was a lot of nice scenery to admire while you walked.</p>

<p>
[quote]
my dad only spent a year at Wake, and left mostly for family reasons, but he thought their academics were really overrated & not quite as good as everyone made them out to be. He was going there for journalism & just thought it was a joke.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I'd suggest that the problem must have primarily been your father's. Wake has never had a Journalism program.</p>

<p>OP - you also need to look at your GPA/test scores and so forth and see where you have a chance of being accepted - as someone else mentioned - you don't have to choose between the 2 unless you are accepted to both, right? I don't think too many will disagree with me that Duke is the tougher admit.</p>