Unsure why this was flagged before…let’s try reposting.
Hello there everyone! I remember being a senior in high school (almost 5 years ago now) scrolling through College Confidential for advice on which colleges to apply for! I was reminded of this site when I ran into a few students from my high school and, I figured, it’s my turn to help the community that helped me.
The following post will be helpful for potential applicants in this next cycle, students going into Wake this upcoming year, and parents who are just curious. First a little about me:
I graduated this past May with a B.A. in Biology and a minor in writing. I’m currently enrolled in a Masters in Biomedical Science. I had quite a few extracurricular activities while at Wake including being president of a library organization, PR rep of a multicultural sorority, and a writing tutor. I think it might be important to mention that my ethnic background is Asian and Arab since often Wake has a reputation of not being the most diverse campus (I will get more into that later).
Now for my review: I’ll first cover the academics, then social life, diversity, Winston-Salem, and a quick FAQ section that might be more helpful for incoming students. For the record, I’m not an admissions counselor but I had a pretty diverse range of friends who also helped me shape this review with their experiences in addition to my own.
Wake lives up to its reputation of being a competitive “southern ivy.” I was an A student throughout high school. That was definitely not the case in college and it was a hard lesson to learn that good grades don’t come easy. However, I find that courses get easier as you progress into a major. Weed out courses will often encompass your freshman and sophomore year (for pre-health it would be organic chem and for business, most likely, accounting). If you find yourself performing well in weed out courses, you will most likely do very well the rest of your time at Wake. If you aren’t performing well, it’s not something to fret over. Professors are almost always open to talk and are supportive of student success as long as they see you putting in the effort. They might help you develop a better learning style which would help you out in later courses.
A downside, however, to a competitive university is how cutthroat students tend to be about grades. The atmosphere can sometimes be suffocating and you’ll feel a little down or inferior when your grade isn’t above the average. It’s not the best place to go if you don’t take stress easily (I don’t take stress well but I learned to cope).
Wake, in itself, provides great connections and a powerful education for your resume. Most students have success finding a career or grad opportunity after graduating. My class is just a unique case (darn you COVID-19).
Wake is indeed a party school as stated on several posts here. Wake has parties maybe 4-5 days a week at lounges, frat houses, and a club a few miles away called Last Resort. I wouldn’t consider myself a party person. I went to Last Resort maybe 4 or 5 times during my entire undergrad. Also went to maybe 2-3 frat parties to see what they’re like. I think Last Resort is a place to visit for all students at least once during their time at school because it doesn’t have that stuffy frat basement atmosphere and is a good chance to see what going out is really like. If you enjoy a spontaneous social life, Wake’s parties would definitely fit the definition of a crazy college party. If you aren’t a party person, that’s totally ok. There’s still a large portion of students who prefer hanging out with friends at their dorms. My friends and I would often just play video games in one of our rooms or we’d have a nice dinner over at Reynolda Village (highly recommend visiting, walkable distance from campus). Student union, the library, and other orgs also host events on weekends like movie nights, fairs, game tournaments, etc. There’s also a biennial extravaganza called President’s Ball that’s often something people look forward to (the next would be not this school year but the year after).
My closest friends did not participate in greek life. Some of them felt isolated due to the heavy influence greek life had on the student body. I felt a bit of that influence especially due to a lacking of female friends. Junior year, I joined a very small multicultural sorority that isn’t a part of the panhel council (the big-name sororities). Because of its small size, the relationships felt a lot more genuine. Several of the girls in that sorority were a part of the larger panhel ones and dropped due to a lot of forced relationships and annoying obligations. That being said, I also had a few friends who really enjoyed being a part of larger sororities and fraternities because it provided connections while also giving some necessary distraction to our heavy workload.
Wake Forest is unfortunately not the most diverse campus. In most of my classes, there was maybe a proportion of 8 white students to every 1 non-white student. I’ve heard of several incidents of prejudice against black people, Hispanic people, and most especially Asian international students. I am privileged to have not experienced such prejudice despite not being white but my Asian friends have been ostracized both in and out of the classroom. I had a black friend who felt she was often looked down upon despite her being just as smart if not smarter than others in her class. My boyfriend who’s Hispanic would often avoid the community areas and lounges because he felt out of place. However, I will not totally devalue Wake’s efforts towards promoting diversity. There are groups to join such as the intercultural center and multicultural sorority which are great at promoting inclusivity and intersectionality. Wake is in the works of also adding a multicultural fraternity. There are also living communities and organizations targeted for specific groups (an all-Asian club, Hispanic club, etc). These groups don’t necessarily promote inclusivity but rather give a safe space for these groups of students who feel extremely ostracized and are looking for support from fellow students of the same background. I won’t lie: the campus is polarized. However, almost everyone ends up finding a positive and supportive group of friends. Inclusive and open-minded people are on that campus, you just have to look.
Hmm…to put it lightly, I thought Winston was quite boring. I came from a bit of a more bustling city in Florida so I found Winston-Salem to be a bit of a downgrade. I was able to find some more niche places in the city like cute coffee shops and a barcade later in my undergrad years. The city itself looks quite industrial, once being a city heavily influenced by tobacco producers. However, during my last year or so at Wake, I noticed Winston has been getting a lot of new developments that make it look a lot more “young and hip.” I believe they’re converting one of the central abandoned tobacco plants into an event space or park? So for you all that may be coming in later due to the pandemic, it might be a bit different than when I left back in March.
It’s also not the safest place to be at night. If you do decide to walk around, visit with friends. Food options are pretty great downtown though if you have some extra spending money or run out of cafeteria swipes.
Phew…that was a lot! Now I’ll do a brief FAQ in the next comment.