The Presidential Scholarship: Putting the “Arts” in Liberal Arts

We get a lot of questions here in the Admissions Office. Questions on a whole wide range of topics. Academics. Sports. Professional development opportunities. Campus life. Toilet paper in the trees (so many about the toilet paper in the trees). One such area is the arts and opportunities relating to the arts here at Wake Forest. While it would take far too much time to tell you everything artistic happening on our campus, we do want to highlight one particular opportunity for incoming students.

The Presidential Scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate both excellent academics as well as a continued talent and dedication to an artistic medium: dance, debate, music, theatre, or visual art. The scholarship is valued at $8,000 per semester, renewable over eight semesters (four full years of college) pending the meeting of certain requirements.  Before we get to a few frequently asked questions, here is a link to the application website (including the application itself):

Applications generally require submission of a portfolio detailing your involvement in a particular area. We encourage all students to have both their Presidential Application and their College Application (they are distinct – you need to fill out both) submitted by November 15.

Now on to your questions…

Philip Kayser and the Wake Forest Theatre performs the final dress rehearsal of Our Town, by Thornton Wilder, on the Main Stage Theatre on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

Philip Kayser and the Wake Forest Theatre performs the final dress rehearsal of Our Town, by Thornton Wilder, on the Main Stage Theatre on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

Q: Wait, hold on. What do you mean by “certain requirements?” Am I signing over my right to do pre-med or be a business major?

A: Not at all! Requirements vary by program. Generally speaking, the various departments want you to remain involved both academically (i.e., taking classes) and extracurricular-ly (being involved in department events). However, you are free to major in whatever you want. Other requirements include maintaining a 2.0 cumulative GPA while making progress towards your degree, submitting an apologia detailing your involvement in the program at the end of every spring term, living in on-campus housing, and hosting prospective students from time to time. Again, the details vary for each discipline, so feel free to reach out to us if you have questions.

Q: Okay, good. What if I am talented in multiple disciplines? Can I apply for a Presidential in more than one area?

A: Yes you can! Although we do recommend students focus on their strongest area, as the involvement required can be quite high at times, you are free to apply in as many areas as you wish.

Q: So what’s the deal with the separate application? I thought Wake Forest was going to consider me for merit scholarships because I interviewed and submitted my application for admission before the December 1 deadline.

A: We do require a separate application for the Presidential Scholarship, and frankly, this is in your best interest. We have some talented people in the Admissions Office, but none of us have a doctoral degree in art or dance or theatre. We may know the difference between Bach and Brahms, but when it comes to the finer details of evaluation in these areas, we choose to let the experts handle it! Thus, we share your application with members of our faculty who in turn provide to us their professional evaluation of your abilities.

You will also be eligible for consideration for our other merit-based scholarships because you are submitting your application before the December 1 deadline.

Q: What if I have specific questions about my application? Who should I reach out to?

A: You should always feel free to reach out to us with questions. Please contact Lowell Tillett at or 336-758-7438 – I will happily answer any questions you may have.

Q: Okay, one more. What IS the deal with the toilet paper in the trees, anyway?

A: You’ll just have to come visit and take a tour to find out!

Thank you and good luck!

Lowell Tillett
Assistant Dean of Admissions and Merit-Based Scholarships

Categories: Admissions

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