Arron Marlowe-Rogers

How to Take a Campus Tour

WF Tour Image

Every summer our parking lots runneth over with families arriving from all over the country. This is no average summer road trip. They are packing up the car and charging the iPods on a quest to find out a little bit more about the colleges and universities that interest them (or their parents).  To all of you who are planning trips this summer, we welcome you. We are eager to share the nuances of our respective schools. We know you have a lot of information at your fingertips with pamphlets and websites—maybe you’re even following your favorite schools on Twitter—but nothing can take the place of the all-important campus visit. Often, a two-hour experience on campus can make or break the decision to apply.

As the adviser for the Wake Forest University Ambassadors-in-Admissions, I’m lucky to have a lot of interaction with our current students as well as prospective ones. We have over 100 volunteer tour guides who go through an interview process and an entire semester of training to be able to show you around Wake Forest University. Over the years they have shared stories with me of their best and worst tour moments (including a gem that we’ve nicknamed “Snakes on a Tour”), prompting us to delve into the topic of “Do’s and Don’ts” for visitors. What makes a great tour? What can ruin it for everyone? We want to share some of the highlights as you prepare to visit campuses across the country.

Parents, take note. A lot of their advice is directed to you!


  • Ask questions! Our guides are all great conversationalists, but a one-sided conversation is never quite as fun. As one guide commented “I’d rather get asked about my favorite baseball team than get no questions at all.”
  • Can’t think of one? Ask why the tour guide chose that school. This was the most popular piece of advice. Ideally, it is the only “I don’t know”-proof question. If a student says they don’t know why they picked the school they attend…I’d take it as a bad sign.
  • Overwhelmingly, our guides want you stick around after the tour. Hungry? Don’t wait until you’re back on the road– try the food in the eating halls. You didn’t see the gym on the tour? Ask your guide to show you where it is. You didn’t see the Scales Fine Arts Center? Go check it out. People watch! Can you see yourself here?
  • “Focus on how a school feels rather than sheer numbers.  “Whatever college you attend, how the campus feels and the vibe the student body/buildings/teachers give off are far more important than petty rankings or other statistics.  As a college student, numbers will fade, but how you feel walking around your campus remains as long as you are there.” – Andrew
  • Let the prospective students ask the questions! Believe it or not, we hear more from parents than students on tours. While guides will do their best to answer everyone’s questions, they like hearing from the students who could be their classmates in the coming years.
  • Be okay with the answer “I don’t know.” If a tour guide doesn’t know the answer to one of your questions, it is likely they know who will and can point you in the right direction.
  • Pay attention to the fit! It is something you will hear a lot of in the coming years, but it can be a hard thing to define.“I always end my tours with the most helpful piece of advice I received when I was deciding between certain colleges. I did all of these online quizzes, “Where’s your perfect college?” and “Which college is the perfect fit for you?”  In these quizzes they asked me if I preferred rural to urban communities, or over 50,000 students to less than 5,000. At the time, I had no idea the answer to these questions. But the most helpful token I would like to pass along is to take what you love about high school and mirror that love in your college experience. It may only be one or two particular things you appreciate, but they will still be important to you in a few years. Because despite the fact that you will change immensely over the next two years as you enter and adjust to college, the things that are important now, you will still value them in the future.”- Megan


  • Please don’t give your (or your student’s) statistics to a student tour guide and ask what their chances are of getting in to that institution. Sure, they can give you median SAT ranges and the percent of students who were in the top 10% of their class- but they’re not privy to the decision process. While they’re not voting members of an admissions committee, they know it is holistic and there’s no such thing as a shoe-in on numbers alone so it is a nearly impossible question for a student guide to answer.
  • Don’t ask how they are financing their college education. It’s a very personal question and not one that everyone is comfortable with answering in front of a crowd of 15 strangers. A good rule of thumb for any sensitive topic? If you wouldn’t feel comfortable answering the question or you wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone asking your son or daughter that question, don’t ask it.
  • Please don’t hog the tour guide. If you have developed an extensive list of questions, try to ask them at the end of the tour.“As a tour guide, it’s much easier to deal with people who have a lot of questions after the group has dispersed than to deal with somebody constantly haranguing you as you’re trying to convey information that the rest of the group probably wants to hear anyway. In this regard, it’s actually kind of funny to see other visitors’ reactions to the aggressive questioner.” – Justin
  • There are visitors out there who love to play “gotcha” with tour guides. If you have tough questions to ask, again, please wait until the end of the tour. If a student guide doesn’t know the answer, or if you are not satisfied with their take on topic, by all means ask someone in the Admissions Office.
  • Don’t wear high heels on a college tour. Going along with this– check the weather. Many schools, including Wake Forest, will keep extra umbrellas around but it is always a good idea to plan ahead.
  • Don’t wear clothing representing another school, especially one of our rivals! I feel like this is a no-brainer, and yet, people do it all the time”- Amanda. Parents, it’s okay to be proud of your alma mater—just keep in mind our students are proud of theirs as well and we’d hate to do battle in the middle of the library.
  • Speaking of alma maters—alumni parents, please do not “hijack” the tour. We understand that you’re giddy at the idea of having your son or daughter follow in your footsteps, but a university is a living breathing thing. Schools are constantly changing in many exciting ways, while striving to keep the principles and ideals of the institution intact. The student giving the tour is just as much a part of the university as you were as a student, and their time and experience just as valuable.
  • Don’t forget your guide is a student at the school you’re visiting. Odds are, if they’re willing to go through all of the training and spend time showing you around, they love it there. What may seem foreign or unnecessary to you could be their favorite thing about the university.
  • “While AP credit from high school does apply to a lot of people, it’s not a good idea to refer to it in terms of “getting out of unnecessary classes”. We offer very good classes here, and the students/parents should be thinking about furthering their education, rather then trying to skip out on something that could have really benefited them.” –Allison
  • If it seems quiet on campus, keep in mind they are students first…often both classes and tours start on the hour and a vibrant active campus can seem a little less so at 10 am.   “We aren’t hiding from tours. People are just busy, or in class, or napping, or eating, or are in the library.” – Sarah.
  • Don’t get intimidated by the superhuman tour guide who seems to be involved in every club and honor society available. “I know when I was touring, one guide seemed to do everything and I started to doubt my ability to not only be admitted to but also succeed at that institution. It put momentary doubt in my mind. It’s easy to fall into that trap of insecurity while that tour guide is clearly a wonderful model for the institution”- Vini.
  • Don’t ask students and/or faculty and staff members to pose for pictures—if you do, at least refrain from orchestrating photo shoots. Recently, a mother asked a member of our dining staff to put specific ingredients together, as if he was preparing them, and dictated how to hold the spatula so she could get the best picture. Her son look mortified and it slowed the tour down.
  • Don’t ask a student to compare two schools. While that might be the decision you’re facing, it can be difficult for a student to draw conclusions about a school they know nothing about because it wasn’t in the running for their college search.
  • Don’t be rude! Common courtesies apply on campus tours. Please don’t talk on your cell phone for the duration of the tour (or the information session for that matter!).

Above all—do have a good time with the tours. There are lots of schools out there—and it’s likely there is more than one school where you can be happy. Get excited about this next chapter of life.

And as for “Snakes on a Tour”? A long story short—don’t cross a school off of your list just because a black snake comes out of the woods. They’re commonly found in most states, and as we all learned, they are harmless.  If it is a deal breaker, take it as a sign that you’re better suited to an urban campus…

Assistant Dean Jennie Harris ’06

Wait List Inactivity Continues

Things remain stable with our incoming first year class and we have yet to admit a single student off of our active wait list. Today we find ourselves preparing the “wait list release” letters for all students who indicated they were willing to wait to hear from us until June 1. Your letters should arrive sometime next week.

We have begun fielding inquiries about January transfer possibilities. Let me first say that no one here wants anyone to head off to school in August with the intent of spending but one semester there. Please, move onto campus full of optimism and energy, ready to take advantage of the numerous opportunities presented to you. Your initial goal should be to make a home for yourself at that school for four years. Generally, we do not admit first year transfer applicants after one semester and I imagine that availability for any transfer applicant for the Spring 2015 term will be extremely tight. If, during your spring semester, you conclude that you would like to apply for the Fall 2015 term, contact us and we will let you know how to proceed.

Student-Faculty Engagement & Well-Being After College

Last week,  a new Gallup-Purdue University study was released entitled “Life in College Matters for Life After College” on the tie between a student’s college experience and their engagement with work and personal well-being after graduation. Among other things, it concluded the following:

… the study found that support and experiences in college had more of a relationship to long-term outcomes for these college graduates. For example, if graduates recalled having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being. And if graduates had an internship or job in college where they were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, were actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and worked on projects that took a semester or more to complete, their odds of being engaged at work doubled as well.

These conclusions prompted me to think back to our own #WFUtaughtme teacher appreciation campaign conducted here last October. Spend some time on the campaign page and you will find that our students most certainly do recall “having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.” We’ve always known that strong student-faculty relationships are vitally important to a fruitful and enjoyable college experience. The results of this study assert that they are also integral to work place engagement and high well-being after graduation.


Our Active Wait List

Everyone here in the office has fielded dozens of calls this week from students inquiring about the status of their applications and asking whether or not the Admissions Committee will be admitting students off of our active wait list. The answer, for now at least, is that we will not. Currently, we have a first year class in place and will not be reviewing wait list applications.

Wait listed applicants were asked on their reply cards to select a date by which you needed to hear a positive decision from us. While our enrollment now is such that admitting additional applicants will not be necessary, we cannot say that this will be the case throughout the summer months with 100% certainty. As of today, we will let your deadline date come and go before releasing you from the wait list.

I understand that this is disappointing news for many. We welcome additional updates from applicants but want all to have a realistic understanding of their chances for admission. In the end, the likelihood of being offered a place in our first year class is low. We thank you for your interest in attending Wake Forest and wish you well going forward.

Transfer Applications

Library studyA quick update on our transfer review process –  applications are reviewed on a rolling basis once all required documentation has been received. The Admissions Committee is currently reviewing and mailing out decision letters daily. We are still accepting transfer applications for the Fall 2014 term. Instructions on how to apply can be found on our transfer applicant information webpage. Please reach out if you have any questions. Good luck to all of you as you wrap up final exams and throughout the transfer admissions process.

The Blog is Quiet, The Office is Busy


Approximately 900 people have walked through our doors each day this week. 900. High school sophomores and juniors are visiting as prospective applicants while admitted students come to us as prospective future Demon Deacons. Let’s just say we’ve been shaking a whole lot of hands!

Thus the silence on the blog. That said, there really is not much to write about. Admitted students are weighing their options and have until May 1 to pay an admission deposit to the school of their choice. Students on our active wait list know that little will happen on that front until the first week of May at the earliest. Finally, the Admissions Committee has begun to review transfer applications and will begin releasing decisions at the end of the month. We have a savvy and patient applicant pool and for that we are thankful.

If you have visited us over the course of this five to six week period, thank you. For the most part, the weather has been great (Dean Gauthier and I even squeezed in some table tennis during our first Campus Day for admitted students last Friday!). We’ve enjoyed hosting you and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Our Wait List

20131104library4340An inbox flooded with new messages from students who have been offered a place on our wait list. This is what all of us on the Admissions Committee found this past weekend after our decision letters had been mailed. I spent time responding to many Saturday afternoon and then again Sunday evening, wanting to help relieve the anxiety that comes with an offer to remain on our active wait list. We understand and respect the fact that being a student at Wake Forest is of significant importance to so many of you. Your decision notification included information on how our wait list process works – read it carefully. What follows is some additional advice on things you need to know going forward.

Obviously, you need to mail back your wait list reply card. We will not evaluate your file again without it. A simple but necessary step, send it back soon.

Second, email your regional admissions dean. If you are not sure who that is, visit our Meet the Staff directory. This is your chance to convey your interest in attending Wake Forest while also describing how the final months of your senior year are progressing. In particular, we are interested in knowing more about recent academic success in the classroom. Feel free to email your representative again as May 1 approaches with additional academic updates.

That’s it – you need not do anything further. We do not offer interviews to students on our wait list. If you are curious as to whether a visit to campus will increase your chances of being admitted, know that it will not. That said, if you wish to visit so that you can know for yourself whether you would say yes should admission be offered, by all means come to campus (information on scheduling a place in our information session and tour can be found on our Visit Wake Forest webpage).

Finally, you do need a strong dose of patience. We will spend the entire month of April monitoring our enrollment. Come May 1, the Admissions Committee will gather to discuss how many, if any, additional applicants we will need to admit. If necessary, we will begin the process of reviewing active wait list applications (as noted on your notification, we do not rank applications on our wait list). The calling of applicants would proceed soon thereafter. While we have admitted students off of our wait list in recent years, it is possible that this year will be different. We will not know our enrollment situation until May 1. In the meantime, you must pay an enrollment deposit to one of the institutions where you were admitted. Whatever you do, please do not risk losing your place there in hopes of being offered one here.

Students, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. I know that being offered a place on our wait list was not the outcome you desired and I do not wish to sugarcoat the situation. Going forward, what we do not want is for confusion about this process to make your personal experience more difficult – reach out and we will do our best to answer your questions.

Our Applicant Pool and Admission Decisions

After sharing the news via Twitter that our decision letters were placed in the mail yesterday, we were met with a number of excited if not nervous responses. We know that the opportunity to attend Wake Forest is very important to so many of you. Four years of rigorous high school coursework, of service in your communities, of participation in symphonic orchestras and in musicals and on debate and athletic teams – you shared with us your hard work and commitment with the hope that we would offer you a place in the class of 2018. Trust me – we understand and appreciate your enthusiasm for this place!

For the third consecutive year, we received over 11,000 applications for a freshman class of 1250 students. We admitted approximately 34% of the applicant pool. 500 students were accepted last fall through our Early Decision process, meaning there were roughly 3250 letters of admission mailed yesterday.

We are thrilled with the composition of our admitted class. 54% of the class is made up of women. 29% are students of color. 5% are international applicants while 23% come from North Carolina. In order, our top six states represented in the applicant pool are North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Georgia. All told, at least one student from every single state will receive an offer of admission. In addition, applications were received from students living in 44 countries. 64% of admitted applicants who attend schools that calculate an actual class rank are in the top 5% of their class with 89% within the top 10%.

With an admission rate of 34%, it goes without saying that many of you will not receive the letter you have been hoping for. Some will be invited to remain on our wait list, a process that is explained with your decision letter. Others will be denied admission. It is our hope that those denied will not see the decision as an indictment on your ability to do strong work at the college level or of your character. To the contrary, the vast majority of our applicant pool is comprised of students who will be fantastic college students and who would do wonderful work here at Wake Forest if given the opportunity. We are fortunate to receive applications from so many accomplished students yet we do not have room for all of you. Our task is to enroll 1250 first year students. To accomplish this, we read and then re-read your applications, including your responses to our seven short answer prompts. We conducted personal interviews with over 6000 students. We met as an Admissions Committee, often late into the evening, and collectively reviewed each and every admissions decision. In doing so, we know that we are not offering admission to so many qualified applicants, a fact that brings us absolutely no joy whatsoever. If you were not offered admission, believe us when we say that you should be proud of the work you have done and of the application you submitted.

Decision Letters Are In The Mail

Decision letters have left the building and are now loaded onto a mail truck, destined for locations across the country and all over the world! As it has always been at Wake Forest, we only notify via mail. We feel confident that applicants will receive their decision letter on or before April 1.

Decision Letters 2014

To all who applied, thank you. Everyone in our office truly appreciates your sincere interest in attending Wake Forest. We know that applying to Wake Forest is an involved process that requires time and thoughtfulness. Thank you for giving our application such effort and for making our process so rewarding.

Fall 2014 Transfer Admissions

20130905residence6026This week, as the Admissions Committee puts the finishing touches on the decisions that will lead to our next class of first year students, my thoughts are beginning to wander to the fall term transfer admissions process. What follows is a basic rundown of how we evaluate transfer applications.

Traditionally, we receive between 300 and 400 applications to transfer. This year, we will enroll approximately 50 transfer students for the fall term. Transfer applications are evaluated on a rolling basis beginning in April with initial decisions mailed out in early May (we only notify via mail). The Admissions Committee may request your final spring semester grades prior to making a decision on your application – this will push notification back to late May/early June. We will continue to accept and evaluate transfer applications throughout the summer until our enrollment needs are met. That said, it is in your best interest to submit your application sooner rather than later (think before May 1, if not before!).

Instructions for applying can be found on our Transfer Applicants information webpage. Transfer applicants are encouraged to apply online utilizing The Common Application or by completing the Wake Forest University “paper” application. Interviews are not offered to transfer applicants. Should any questions arise about your application during review, we will reach out to you to schedule an appointment (on campus or via Skype).

Transfer students are fully eligible for need-based financial aid assistance at Wake Forest. In conjunction with the submission of your application for admission, you must also complete our financial aid application requirements. Please visit our Office of Student Financial Aid webpage for instructions on how to apply.

Transfer students inquiring about admission are quick to ask what it is that we are looking for when evaluating applications. Simple – impressive students. We seek to enroll those who have thrived in the college classroom. Your transcript should reflect strong academic work within a core curriculum of courses similar to those undertaken by our students (you can get an idea of what these requirements are for the class of 2017 by visiting Further, your responses to the essay and short answer prompts in the application should reflect an intellectual thoughtfulness that has grown throughout your college experience. Simply put, transfer applicants are older and therefore presumed wiser – providing evidence of such in your responses will serve you well. Good luck!