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Wake Forest University 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

Wake Forest 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations 

The Requirements: 2 lists, 5 short answers, 1 essay

Supplemental Essay Type: Short Answer, Oddball, Activity, Community

Before you dig in…

The Wake Forest supplement always gives our students a run for their money and the 2020-21 application is no exception. (Two lists, five short answer questions, plus an essay? What gives?!) That’s why we made you a guide that explains the purpose of each of these thought-provoking prompts and how to answer them in a way that presents a varied and comprehensive package to admissions.

Brief Responses:

1a. List five books you have read that intrigued you. (Spaces have been left for you to include each book’s title and author and mark whether the selection was required or not required.)

The name of the game with prompts like this one is variety. Each of these books is an opportunity for you to reveal an interest or passion of yours to admissions, and you don’t want to come off as one-note. Did Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series Sandman blow your mind? Were you horrified by Jon Ronson’s revelations about social media in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed? Admissions is giving you the option of checking “required” or “not required” for a reason – they want to understand what interests you both in a formal academic setting and on your own. So make sure you’re not just listing To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet and 1984. They’re all works of art, but everyone’s read them, so what will they really say about you? When you only choose one or two of those oft-assigned classics, admissions gets a chance to see what from the modern English (or other!) curriculum really resonated with you.

1b.  Explain how a book you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity. (150 words)

This prompt asks you to discuss a book that has profoundly impacted your view of the world. At CEA, we always recommend that you choose an unexpected work of fact or fiction in order to stand out from the pack. Yes, it’s true that 1984 showed many students a bleak picture of what a Big Brother takeover might look like. However, almost every student in the country is assigned that book and takes a look at those same lessons. What else have you read that stuck with you because of who you are and what you care about? The book has to be fiction, but aside from that requirement you have a lot of leeway here.. Were you blown away by the coming-of-age story The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian? How did that graphic novel change the way you think about the Native American experience? Did the thrilling The Talented Mr. Ripley make you rethink the relationship between morality and murder? And if so, how did Highsmith accomplish this? Try to be as creative as possible with your selection here, and think about what books have really struck you at your core and why.

2. Tell us more about the topic that most engages your intellectual curiosity. (150 words)

This is a classic short-answer: a broad, pithy question that demands a specific, personal response. This prompt isn’t just about your academic interests, so rather than starting with a subject area (religion! calculus!) or big category (books! snakes!), try to come up with a few specific examples. When was the last time you went down an internet rabbit hole trying to research something? When were you extremely motivated to solve a problem or create something new? What was the last fact or skill you learned outside of school that truly captured your imagination? Once you come up with good examples, be sure to go deeper into the prompt: have you always loved working with your hands in your father’s auto body shop or vegetable garden? If so, why is this kind of work interesting to you? Are you fascinated by tasks that combine your love of logic with your intuitive, creative side? If that’s the case, what other intellectual pursuits that fuse these two sides do you plan to pursue in the future? The bottom line here is to discuss examples of what truly fascinates you while also reflecting on what these examples say about your personality traits, interests, or learning style.

3. Describe a community that is important to you. How has that community prepared you to engage with, change, or even build the Wake Forest community? (150 words)

This is a pretty standard community essay. Wake Forest wants to learn about a community you hold near and dear to your heart. You could be a part of a Ukranian Culture Club or a kebab appreciation association; either way, Wake Forest wants to hear about it. So try your best, despite the small space you are given, to describe the community and then detail your place within it. Next, address the second part of the question: how has this community prepared you to engage with Wake Forest’s community? The point of this question is to show admissions you will add value and diversity to campus, and that you are a proactive and involved student who will help to build their community. So, start thinking about the groups and organizations to which you belong and get to writing!

4. Give us your top ten list.

Theme: _____________________________











This is one of our all-time favorite short-answer questions. It’s also one students dread initially, because they don’t know how to approach it. Like many of the other questions on this list, think about what you do or what you are interested in that might also be of interest to admissions. What else about who you are and what you do have you not yet revealed about yourself? Our founder always jokes that she would list her favorite kinds of pasta in order (because she is an actual pasta addict). Maybe she would make a list of the top ten pasta meals of her life and who she ate them with, to showcase how much pasta is a part of her social life and how she connects with others (it truly is the centerpiece of her world). Think about how you can add dimension to your list and take a collection of favorite movies or music beyond the ordinary. If someone else could submit your list, it’s not specific or creative enough and probably won’t tell admissions anything they really want or need to know.

How did you become interested in Wake Forest University?  Feel free to tell us about any contact that you had with Wake Forest that was important to you.

This prompt really is as straightforward as it seems. To ace your response, be honest (and detailed!) — how did you become interested in WFU? Has it always been in your peripherals, since you grew up nearby? Or maybe your cousin attended and told you about their fantastic experience, which led to you exploring WFU’s programs and majors. Perhaps you spoke with a WFU representative at a college fair and it sounded like the place to be! Whatever your personal connection to Wake Forest, tell admissions about it. They want to know that you’re excited about the prospect of being Demon Deacon!


Essay: Please submit an essay on a topic of your choice. (250-650 words)

In the space provided, briefly discuss which of the accomplishments listed above has had the most meaning for you and why.

*These questions are only found on WFU’s application. If you are applying via the Common App, you will not need to respond to this essay prompt.

You’re going to have to poke around to find these, especially the Activity essay (we did!) but they exist for WFU applicants, so we thought you should be prepared! The first required essay is just like your average Common App essay, just more open-ended — feel free to use this opportunity to stretch your creative muscles! Or, if you feel like you’ve already expressed what you want to say in your Common App personal statement, now is the perfect time to copy and paste; if it’s already nice, why write it twice?

The second prompt is a pretty typical Activity essay. Try and distill your most meaningful accomplishment in a few sentences and give context for why it has meant so much to you. The word count should become clear when you enter it into the app itself. (We hope!)

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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