Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Academically oriented schools value academics as their priority. They value research works and advancement towards the "truth". Life oriented schools, on the other hand, value students' lives before and after graduation, and tend to prioritize professional schools such as institutes for business, law, and medicine.
Wake is definitely closer to the latter although these days the incoming freshmen classes tend to lean toward the middle of the spectrum. However, I have seen so many academically oriented students leaving wake after their first year, disappointed both at the academic atmosphere of the university overall and the lack of academic social scene on campus.
Wake Forest is a good school with caring teachers and personal attention. However, for some students, academic life is not over upon graduation.
While the personal attention is good, it is often not enough if you want to become a scholar some day in the future. I am sure many parents are caring and nurturing, but the reason they send children to schools (the external source of education) is that with their limited knowledge they cannot adequtely educate their children towards the utmost fulfillment of their potentials.
Likewise, Wake Forest provides a very good environment for most college student for the purpose of having a good life in school and after graduation. But a small fraction of potential scholars do not get fed because of the way Wake Forest is.
For example, if John Nash did not go to Carnegie Institute of Technology and did not interact with the brilliant minds of his time, he might not have had the opportunity to rise as star mathematician after graduating from college. If Richard Feynman did not have a chance to interact with the physicists who tried to solve the greatest problems of that time, he could have become a good high school teacher instead of a nobel prize winning scholar (for he was really good at teaching physics anyways).
The problem stems from the fact that Wake Forest does not have PhD granting institutions in core areas that are in need of research such as Mathematics, Psychology, Economics, etc. Even for the departments with PhD programs such as Physics and Biology, they are not ranked as high as one would expect from a university of its stature. This means that the faculty members, although caring and remembering students' names, are not the forerunner of research in their respective areas of interest (i.e. not cutting edge).
This is problematic for practical reasons as well. In order to get admitted to top PhD programs in the nation, you need at least 2-3 letters of reccommendation from known scholars, which is not easy at a school with unknown professors who devote most of their time in teaching.
(Also Wake does seem to exhibit grade deflation which can be a tough burden to overcome if you are seeking admission to top graduate schools, but that's a different issue)
My advice is that if you are academically oriented (i.e. want to get your PhD's after graduation) take a look at some other universities that are more academically oriented than Wake Forest such as Carnegie Mellon, Duke, NYU, Boston University, Wesleyan University, most Ivy League Schools among many. Meet the great minds, meet the very person who came up with the ideas you admire, talk to them and learn from them. Wake is not the place where you can do these things. I was one of those students who clearly desired to be either a mathematician or a physicist. I wanted to contribute to the academia, interact with the great minds of our times, and serve the humanity through the pursuit of knowledge: pro humanitate - wake forest's often misinterpretted motto. Heed my advice, you will thank me later.