School Profile: You Will Love the Traditions of Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University, founded in 1834, is a private research university located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and sits on a 340-acre main campus three miles from downtown. The Winston-Salem college town is nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is also a four-hour drive from welcoming North Carolina beaches. There’s a little bit of everything: mountains, Piedmont, beaches, and city, all in proximity to this suburban university.

Pro Humanitate (for humanity) is the Wake Forest motto, so it makes sense that they have poured financial support into new initiatives in the Humanities Institute in entrepreneurship, translational science, sustainability, public engagement, molecular signaling, sustainability and bioethics, all made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The University is home to both the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, which works to bridge research with real world applications in national defense, medicine, and manufacturing.  In the same spirit, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine aims to bridge scientific discovery and clinical therapies.

The 4,800 undergraduates who call Wake Forest University home can earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from either Wake Forest College or the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy in any one of 40 majors. The most popular majors by enrollment are Business, Political Science, Psychology, and Speech Communications. With a faculty-to-student ratio of 11:1, and all classes taught by experienced faculty, not graduate students, undergrads get an intimate and intellectually stimulating learning experience. Many students work on major research projects with their professors and are able to earn grants or publish work. Among many past and present notable professors, Dr. Maya Angelou taught at Wake Forest from 1982 until her death in 2014.

Students at Wake Forest take Pro Humanitate seriously. They are actively involved in volunteerism in service to community, locally, nationally, and internationally.  The Volunteer Service Corps (VSC) is one of the most popular student organizations on campus. The group goes on annual service trips to destinations in Vietnam, Latin America, Russia, and others, as well as their local and national work. In the same spirit of Pro Humanitate, Wake Forest has 23% minority enrollment, cultural diversity core class requirement for all students, and is among schools awarded the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award by Insight into Diversity magazine. Additionally, more than 60% of students study abroad in more than 70 countries, further enhancing principles of community, volunteerism, diversity, and unity—for humanity.

Unlike most universities, Wake Forest students must live in campus residence halls for six semesters. There are three student community areas: South Campus houses freshmen, Quad and North Areas house upperclassmen. Resident dining plans are also required all six semesters, served in The Fresh Food Company and The Magnolia Room in Reynolds Hall. Students can also take advantage of Benson Food Court featuring food franchises, Shorty’s Restaurant and Bar, Starbucks, Subway, and convenience stores on campus.

Greek life plays an important role at Wake Forest, and nearly half the student body claim membership. According to Greek Rank, Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma are the two top-ranked fraternities, and Kappa Delta and Delta Zeta are the two top-ranked sororities. Second semester freshmen and above are allowed to rush. There are 28 campus chapters belonging to one of three councils. The Sigma Delta chapter of Order of Omega is the honor society for Greek members. To be selected, a student must be in the top 3% of all Greeks on campus based upon leadership, scholarship, Greek involvement, campus involvement and community service.

Because of Wake Forest’s unique location, students have lots of options in their free time. These include outdoor activities like relaxing on the beach; skiing the Blue Ridge Mountains; biking, running, or picnicking local parks; or boating Salem Lake.  Students can take the campus evening shuttle into downtown Winston-Salem Thursdays through Saturdays. Have dinner with friends, take in a River Run Film Festival screening, tour the galleries of the Trade Street Arts District, check out the Winston-Salem Symphony, or explore the Old Salem Historic District. Wander through Reynolda Village and Gardens next to campus and visit the museum there. With all the campus sponsored activities, Greek life happenings, and local attractions, you’ll never be bored.

The NCAA Division I Wake Forest Demon Deacons have eight men’s and eight women’s varsity teams that compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Wake Forest athletics has won eight national championships in four sports and produced 25 Olympians. Among the many notable athletes at Wake Forest are football standout Brian Piccolo, the subject of the movie Brian’s Song, and golf great Arnold Palmer. The Screamin’ Demons student fan section has over 2,200 members, famous for their tie-dye shirts and die-hard enthusiasm, who provide the winning edge primarily in football and basketball. If you really want to be impressive, watch the movie The 5th Quarter featuring Wake Forest’s improbable 2006 football season, then get your Screamin’ Demon tie-dye!

If there’s one thing Wake Forest students love, it is tradition. It’s also probably why Wake Forest has a strong network of alumni who tend to look out for one another for life. Among the major traditions are Christmas Lovefeast, President’s Ball, Hit the Bricks, Lighting of the Quad, Capture the Flag, Homecoming, Wake ‘n Shake, Project Pumpkin, Wake the Library, Awake All Night, Shag on the Mag Springfest, and Senior Events. Check out the details of each of these traditions and many more in Wake Forest’s exhaustive list of old and new traditions.

If Pro Humanitate rings true for you, and you’re all about academic excellence, a chance to get in on meaningful research (maybe even get published!), traditions galore, being part of something special for life, and screaming in tie-dye, then this is your school.

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By Colleen Hill