Have posted on similar threads. Am doing so again as it would be easy or natural for opinions to change / evolve over time but mine have been consistent during son’s 4 yrs at Wake (current senior).
Academics: rigorous, seeking depth of knowledge in all classes (no easy As), dedicated profs who teach and research (with a primary focus on teaching). Essentially all classes taught by profs, small class size (something like 90% under 30 kids). Easy to form very solid relationships with profs (and they like that)
School Spirit: Abundant. Not just athletics but in everything. There is a certain energy about campus. I think much of this stems from the three yr residential living requirement, the housing scheme (Pre Covid - all freshmen live in south campus, sophomores tend to cluster on the quad housing, etc.) and that there are no residential Greek houses (so even the Greek kids live on campus). Community service is a big deal at Wake. Nothing required but most get involved. There are marquee events that bring the entire campus together and it’s not hype. As an example, they just did the annual Hit The Bricks running event which raises funds for cancer research (Brian Piccolo Foundation). Over 1200 kids ran with many others involved in setup, handing out water bottles, etc. Tons of staff, admin, and profs participate too.
Social: Ah yes, to go Greek or not. This comes up a lot on these threads. Greek life is prevalent at Wake but is not the only way to have a very full, fun satisfying experience. S is non Greek and has had a blast while working his butt off. For those that join frat/srat life, it seems far more important to them Freshmen and Sophomore yrs. Is Greek life the leading source of large college parties? Yes. But S would tell you they’ve had many great nights at house parties, dorm parties, etc. I would describe the Greek vibe as more than “it’s just another activity for those who want that” and less than “You have to go Greek to have fun at Wake”.
Social2: Aside from the Greek debate - their is plenty to do via clubs, friend groups, cultural events, outdoor activities due to local geography / weather.
Political: About half the students are full pay which means their families have a certain amount of financial resources. Many associate that with wealth and conservatism. There are certainly those that fall into those categories. But half do receive aide. Wake draws heavily from the south, mid-atlantic, and northeast (and a pretty good following from the midwest and CA / TX). Point being there are all types. It’s not the stereotypical “southern school” (I hate those labels!) Yet it’s in the south and that comes with a certain southern charm within the overall community. S has several wealthy friends and several that come from quite modest means. They all just get along great.
Campus Vibe: From what we’ve seen and what S tells us, Wake is full of very smart, sharp, active students that are serious about their studies but like to have a good time. Plenty of Vals / Sals, class presidents, sports team captains, community service leaders. Active! Most are involved in several things and manage to juggle that with rigorous academics. Being part of the ACC adds a enormous element to the school spirit and games are well attended. The kids get to see some of the best national talent in several sports. A nice blend of the small, connected LAC feel (although bigger with 5k students) with the bigger national schools. There are plenty of “intellectuals” but I would say the scale weighs more heavily to the equally smart, but more active types.