One of the best things about Wake is the small classes. Freshmen year there are two required classes with about 10-15 other students where you can choose from a wide variety of special topics in many of the different disciplines that you want to look into further. This is a great way to get to know a few more of your classmates, as well as make a real connection with a faculty member. Throughout the years you will definitely get a few big classes-- plus side: participation doesn't matter-- but for the most part they are pretty small. In my Spanish major, classes are never bigger than 15, but in my communication major, they can be a lot bigger. Participation is always a plus in classes here, but there never seems to be a problem finding people to say stuff, so you can avoid it if you want to (aka if you didn't do the reading). People at Wake were pretty much all top students at their respective high schools, so people are just plain smart. I was happy to see, though, that people aren't terribly competitive with one another (unless you're in the business school, Calloway, but even there people are always helping each other out allllll the time). Having so many smart people around does occasionally lead to intellectual conversations, but generally they are drunken and get heated quickly because soberly, people are either doing work or are stressed and would rather have more light-hearted conversation. Wake's academic requirements are getting more and more manageable it seems. A lot of people complain about the language requirement, but as a Spanish major, I clearly didn't mind it. The worst required class, Philosophy, has just been made optional (damn you, newbies! so lucky), so chances are divisional requirements will be much less miserable. Registration is always a struggle, but teachers are usually great about letting you in if you just keep showing up in the beginning of the semester. Depending on the department you're in classes can be geared toward learning for the sake of learning and improving your general knowledge, or solely on getting a job (or somewhere in between). Calloway is definitely directed toward you making a lot of money when you graduate, but even if you are one of the less-pressured majors, Wake has a great career department that helps with interview preparation and finding internships.
For the most part, professors will know your name, and may even remember it years later if you had a relationship with them. Favorite classes: Foundations of Education with Scott Baker, Jewish American Literature with Dean Franco, and Contemporary American Lit with Jim Hans Least favorites: Intro To Christian Tradition, Juvenile Delinquency Students study a lot and are quite competitive. Most unique class: Theological Perspectives on Ecology with Mark Jensen Students occasionally have intellectual conversations outside of class if you know the right people. There are many great professors in the English department where I am a major, but the actual layout of the dept. and the required classes definitely needs to be updated. We only have to take ten classes to major, but we currently have to take 2 pre-18th century Brit lits AND a class on Shakespeare, and I have little to no interest in this time period and wish I could specialize in something else. There is also no room to really concentrate on a particular genre or era of literature or even to concentrate on creative writing, which I think is a weakness of the department. I love the small classes and sitting around a large table instead of at desks in rows. The education at Wake is definitely geared toward getting a job, which is a definitely flaw of the system. Maybe the individual teachers place more emphasis on the learning component, but the overall vibe I get is that we are here in order to become successfull, and success seems to be correlated to happiness and the amount of money you make. That said, the school is definitely NOT good at helping the true liberal arts majors like English, Philosophy, Religion, etc. find jobs. They assume that everyone wants to be in the business world.
We are commonly referred to as "Work Forest," meaning that the work load is definitely rough. However, I find that all of the work I do is worthwhile and beneficial to my overall education. Students study around 4-6 hours each day, which can seem daunting but becomes a habit of life here. I have thoroughly enjoyed almost all of my classes. We have a liberal arts curriculum, so the first two years of college are largely spent fulfilling divisional requirements. I have learned so much through these divisionals, particularly the educational policy and practice course that I am currently taking. I have been pushed intellectually to really consider the educational issues our society is facing and I have slowly formed my opinion of what needs to be done to create change. This class has really developed my interest in education, to the point where I may go on to pursue a career in education. This class was mostly discussion based, so I have had many opportunities to debate my ideas with other students who were going through the same intellectual thought process as me. Almost every one of my professors has known me by name and met with me personally in their office hours. I never imagined I would get this personal of an experience at the college level. I have been invited to two professors' homes for dinner and another professor has set up times when we can meet him at a local bakery to talk. Overall, the environment has been very nurturing, but still challenging and intellectually stimulating. The professors do an excellent job of guiding students along in their thought process, while not babying them along the way.
The classroom experience at Wake is what seems to draw many in (especially for those of us that need extra help). All of my professors know my name. I've been to many of their houses for study sessions and I have most of them as Facebook friends. I have classes as small as five students. One on one time is readily available and utilized by me on a weekly basis. Professors give you credit for trying here- office hours are a smart move! I used to just go hang out with my econ prof. in his office in between classes.There is a certain air of competitiveness here, but you're either in that group or you're in the "just trying not to fail out" group...i'd be in the latter. he workload is a bit ridiculous, the "Work Forest" nickname being completely on point, but it becomes manageable the longer you're here. Everyone studies all of the time...there is no other option. Someone in my hall is always pulling an all night-er. Coming from a public school I think I studied more than any else my freshman year. It is easy to want to do better here, easier to study for tests, easier to go to office hours, though because that is what everyone is doing. Everyone here is working hard. The divisional general education requirements are kind of great and kind of annoying. For example I loved my First Year Seminar (required freshmen class) on Children of Divorce, but I would rather have Cheetos dust permanently stuck on my fingers than take another Italian class. I guess making us take them all is the only way to gauge that. Sucks. That being said, though the university is truly centered around learning and not simply placing their students into a job later.
Work Forest: work hard, play hard. Admittedly, I was intimidated by this play on words as an incoming Freshman. However, from my experience, I've found that professors' willingness to invest in students often counteracts the somewhat daunting work load characteristic of a "Top 25" university. It's not uncommon for professors to invite students into their homes for dinner. My professors know my name and care whether or not I participate in class--especially as an English major. Even my "pre-med" friends, who have larger, lecture-style classes, value their one-on-one relationships with professors as an essential part of class--which also speaks to the difficulty and demand of the pre-med track. As far as I can tell, pre-med students, as well as Calloway Business School students, study more than anyone else on campus. These departments are especially geared towards getting jobs whereas I find that humanities departments are geared more towards learning for learning's sake. However, regardless of department, students are competitive. We are also required to dabble in all areas of academics thanks to a liberal arts curriculum. For this reason, I've taken unexpectedly unique classes such as my freshman seminar, Life Perspectives. Based on psychology, this class revolved around a variety of books and memoirs that express different world views. The class was made up of all types of majors and backgrounds but proved driven by the same Wake academic spirit of eager discussion and desire to place learning in the larger context of life. At Work Forest, this learning spirit is summed up in our mission: Pro Humanitate--for humanity.
Wake's academic reputation speaks for itself. It is a top-ranked university, on par with other top-tier universities. Students work hard to succeed, but it is not impossible to do well as some might lead you to believe. If you are qualified enough to earn admission to Wake, then you are qualified enough to succeed here. There is definitely a stress on the liberal arts education here. Every student has to take an array of divisional course requirements, including courses in humanities, the arts, social science, math/natural science, and foreign language. First-year students also have to complete a First Year Seminar and a Freshmen Writing Seminar. These courses are pretty writing intensive, but are also some of the most interesting subjects that professors would not otherwise get to teach. For example, my seminar was called Music of Protest. In the course, we studied social movements in the Western Hemisphere and how music provided influence and social commentary about those movements. Two of my papers for that class were analyses of the music of Bob Dylan and Green Day. One of my favorite things about the academics at Wake is that I get to know my professors really well. My largest class has been about 60 people, and that was an introductory biology course. Most non-intro courses are much smaller, allowing professors to learn everyone's names in just a week or two. Unlike some professors at larger state schools, professors are genuinely interested in getting to know and connecting with students. I have even had professors invite the class to their houses for lunch/dinner on multiple occasions.
One of my favorite aspects of Wake Forest are the smaller class sizes where the professors make an effort to at least know your face. The academics are harder than the average college may have, but it is this that better prepares the students post-graduation. Since I know that my hard work will pay off, I do not mind devoting more of my effort to my classes. In the end, the amount of attention paid to studying depends on what each student wants to allot, but it automatically affects their grade. One of the best things about Wake students is that they keep to themselves where their education matters. There is no competitiveness to the point where it is detrimental to other classmates. Wake Forest is also very attentive to transitioning their students into the workforce and have a lot of resources to do so. The alumni network is very strong around the country and in some international countries like England. One of my favorite classes what a political science class about contemporary India. I learned so much more than I could have ever imagined about one of the most diverse countries in the world. Due to this class, my world perspective has shifted and affects how I see politics in a global perspective. The professors that I have had are passionate about what they teach, and there is nothing better in the academic sphere than learning from someone who loves to teach in their field--and Wake Forest is full of these kinds of professors.
Professors generally know your name unless they're super old and have a hard time remembering. My favorite class this semester is Shakespeare; my professor is a BOSS. My least favorite class was Calculus. I failed. Students study a lot; we have to. We're constantly updating facebook and twitter accounts about retarded things that happen to us in the library. Class participation is a must. Students aren't intellectual outside of class- we have a crap ton of work all the time, that's why we rage so much. Students can be competitive depending on the major. The most unique class I've taken was the World of Opera; it was my freshman year seminar, and I absolutely loved it...even if I had to listen to Don Giovanni at 8am. I'm double majoring in English and French. The English department is awesome, intelligent, and biased. The French department is miniscule; I want to get my PhD in History so I can teach French history here. I go to lunch and get coffee with professors on the reg. Academic requirements are tough, but this is a great academic university. Deal with the hardships. You'll live. Our Career Services Dept is awesome at helping students find jobs after graduation. I would know, I'm on their student committee.
My life IS studying. Last semester, I went out ONCE and did 30-40 hours of homework every weekend (seems impossible, I know, but just you wait!). So be prepared to be willing to give up weekend activities at times and fun, because even though your friends will go out, you will not always be able to. I'm sure there are people that slack more than me though, and you are welcome to be one of them. Class participation is not only common but pretty much required to get a good grafe. First year seminars are unique classes that are required freshman year (or the first year here for transfer students). They are on a variety of subjects, and professors go to a huge effort to make them fun and interesting, not just educational. They are writing, reading, and discussion intensive. I am a political science major (and English major, but let's focus on the poli sci part), and I LOVE IT and would recommend it to anyone. While I have not spent time wiht any of my professors outside of class, I have heard of professors asking classes to dinner at their houses to have a study session before a test. The professors are great, and I am pretty much in love with my major.
A good percentage of the time professors will know your name. Classes tend to be small so there is an expectation for you to participate. If you're looking for it, you will run into people willing to engage in intellectual conversations. Many of the people here are receptive, thoughtful, and curious about your views (if you have any). Studying makes up a large part of the academic culture here. True story, i've seen people reading textbooks while doing sit-ups and walking on the treadmill at the gym. So this is definitely a place intended for the intellectually curious and disciplined. I'm double majoring in English and Philosophy and it's inspiring to see how cultured and learned the professors are in each department, and others as well. Many speak more than one language and have an intimate knowledge of topics peripheral to their field. Though there are somewhat high expectations so be ready to be challenged. Much of Wake Forest's intentions are geared toward making sure you have opportunities to succeed, which means they provide many connections for job placement. Several students secure jobs soon after graduating.