The Presidential Scholarship for Distinguished Achievement

Are you talented in art, dance, debate, music or theatre? Are you interested in continuing to paint, prance, argue, sing or act in college? If you answered “yes,” you may be a good fit for our talent-based scholarship at Wake Forest – The Presidential Scholarship.

WFU OrchestraWhat is it? The Presidential Scholarship is a $16,000 per year award and is designated for students with significant talent in dance, music, theatre, art and debate. This talent-based scholarship is one for which you must complete an additional application. It consists of a sample of your work, whether that be a video of you performing on stage or a portfolio of your studio artwork. Why the additional application? The Admissions Committee wants to be sure that our faculty members get to see your work. When you submit a Presidential Scholarship application, that sample of your work goes to that specific arts department to be evaluated. So what does this mean? This means that if you want your talent in the arts to be considered as part of your application, we ask that you submit an application for the Presidential Scholarship in lieu of an arts supplement to the regular application. “May I apply for more than one,” you ask? Certainly! Just know that you can be awarded a Presidential Scholarship in only one area.

Where is this application? It has been newly updated for electronic submission and is located on our Presidential Scholarship for Distinguished Achievement webpage.

In short, if you are looking to contribute your artistic talent to the Wake Forest community, start working on your portfolio now and submit that Presidential Scholarship application by December 1st!

Lori Pilon ‘12
Assistant Dean, Merit- and Talent-Based Scholarships

Special Fall Admissions Programming

On Friday, we mailed out invitations to our fall Discovery Day, Visions and Near and Far events – they should hit your mailboxes any day now. We hope you will be able to join us on either one of these days or for a traditional information session and tour sometime this fall. For details and registration information (required for all sessions and events), surf over to our Undergraduate Admissions Visit webpage.

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Global Wake Forest

We love sharing with you the terrific things happening in our Center for Global Programs and Studies. I strongly encourage all prospective students and families to spend time on their website where you will find a great deal of information on our study abroad opportunities, international minors, Worldwide Wake and more. They recently produced a short one minute video which captures the excitement generated by some of their programming. Check it out!


Thrive: Comprehensive Wellbeing At Wake Forest

Wake Forest University - Thrive

The campus-wide kick-off of “Thrive: A Comprehensive Approach to Wellbeing” will take place here on Friday, September 5. An event for all Wake Forest University faculty, staff, and students, it will feature a festival designed to inform and inspire the campus community to think differently about their personal approach to wellbeing.

Light-hearted activities involving puppies, a labyrinth, and hundreds of three-foot tall leaves will help the campus community consider serious topics such as financial planning, work satisfaction, intellectual engagement and spirituality. At the center of the event, a 90-foot long, three-dimensional, leaf-shaped installation will represent Wake Forest’s holistic approach to wellbeing.

Committed to the tradition of educating the whole person, Wake Forest has always promoted a culture of health and wellbeing. I confess to playing my share of table tennis matches against colleagues on Hearn Plaza and to listening to friends play on our outdoor piano steps from the arch but a few feet away. It’s not all “Work Forest” around here … not at all.

To learn more about wellbeing initiatives at Wake Forest, visit our Thrive website.

New Admissions Website

While our students only just arrived back to campus and began classes some ten days ago, others here at Wake Forest have been busy all summer long working on enhancements to our website. Thanks to the efforts of a remarkable group of creative minds, we launched our new Wake Forest University Undergraduate Admissions website last week. From the basics on how to apply for admission to in depth profiles of Wake Forest students to wonderful videos highlighting our commitment to undergraduate teaching and scholarship, the website offers a comprehensive look at all that Wake Forest and our community have to offer. I encourage you to pay the site a visit and also welcome feedback via comment.

Final WFU Admissions Screenshot 2


Applying To Wake Forest

As most of you are aware, the 2014-2015 Common Application (CA) launched last Friday, August 1. Our own application, both online and paper, launched earlier in July and questions are already rolling in regarding the differences in the questions asked on each of the applications.

Regardless of which application you submit, you will complete a single extended essay. The CA did not change the prompts they developed for last year’s application. They read as follows (you would write an essay addressing one of these prompts):

  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Students completing the Wake Forest University application are to respond to our one essay prompt which reads:

  • Use the following essay to give the Admissions Committee insight into your character and intellect. Watch this: Talk to us.

Regardless of the application you choose to complete, you will also be prompted to answer our six “In Brief” short response questions. They read:

  • List five books you have read (with authors) that piqued your curiosity. Discuss an idea from one of these works that influenced you.
  • What outrages you? Why?
  • Give us your top ten list.
  • Our incoming freshman class is reading the book Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni. What do you see as the biggest threat to civility?
  • Some say that social media is superficial, with no room for expressing deep or complex ideas. We challenge you to defy these skeptics by describing yourself as fully and accurately as possible in the 140-character limit of a tweet.
  • Describe an academic or intellectual project, experience or pursuit of which you are particularly proud.

A link to the Wake Forest University online application and to a PDF of our paper application can be found on our Apply to Wake Forest webpage. If you want to learn more about the CA, visit the Common Application homepage for instructions on creating an account. Regardless of the application you use, know that one is not preferred by us over the other – use whichever format you like!

We Have Released Our Active Wait List

Letters were mailed yesterday to all students on our active wait list who indicated that they were interested in receiving an offer of admission as late as August 1. Our class remains over-enrolled to the extent that we can now say with certainty that we will not be admitting any students off of the wait list this year.

As I noted earlier in March, the vast majority of our pool was comprised of applicants who will be fantastic college students and who would do wonderful work here at Wake Forest if given the opportunity. We were fortunate to receive applications from so many accomplished students yet were charged with the task of enrolling 1250 of you. In years past, we have needed to admit students from our wait list to reach that goal. This year has just been a “different year” for us and as such a different year for our wait list. Thank you for your patience with us and best of luck as you prepare for your first days of college, but a few weeks away.

2015 Application For Admission Is Available!


Our 2015 Undergraduate Admissions Application is live and ready to be completed! Our penchant for asking a number of short response questions has not changed – this year there are six questions which we hope you will find thought-provoking. In addition, students completing our application will be asked to first watch a short video prior to constructing a response. All told, we have designed these questions in an effort to better understand your intellectual passions, your interests in the world around you and your character and spirit. We look forward to reading all that you choose to share with us.

Go give it a look! As has always been the case, students are welcome to complete our online application or to print out the PDF of the application and submit it via mail. Applicants are also welcome to utilize the Common Application. I assure you, we do not prefer either format over another – use whatever suits your fancy. Good luck!

Farming, Past and Present at Wake Forest

This post is a touch self-serving and for that I apologize, though if you read In Pursuit of Greener Pastures by Ed Southern (’94) you will learn quite a bit about the history of farming at Wake Forest. I got to know Natalie Sevin (’04), one of the farmers featured in the piece, when I was a teacher and she a student at a local high school in the late 90s. Her interests in the earth and sustainable farming come as no surprise to me. Reading the piece on the morning that I traded some of my own organically grown squash with a co-worker (she in turn has paid me in basil and pattypan squash) was meaningful – suffice it to say that I am a huge fan of the terrific produce that comes out of our Piedmont soil. You can learn more about our own Campus Garden, where students work the land themselves, on the Campus Garden Facebook page and by visiting our Office of Sustainability homepage. Eat well this summer!

Campus Garden

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