Wake Forest University, known by those who go there as "Work Forest," is a private research institution in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Classes are rigorous and small, allowing the school's over 5,000 undergrads to have one-on-one interaction with their professors.

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The university offers about 45 majors and 60 minors, including Arabic, entrepreneurship, chemistry and accountancy. A lush green landscape and stately brick buildings provide the backdrop for its stellar academics, though they do come with a high price tag — the total cost of attendance tops $90,000 for the 2024-2025 academic year. However, the college says it meets 100% of students' demonstrated financial need with grants, scholarships, work-study programs and subsidized loans.

Nearly 90% of its students graduate within six years, and the university boasts median early-career earnings of nearly $82,000.

Despite its rigorous academics, Wake Forest University has a robust social scene, too. Nearly half of enrolled undergraduate students go Greek, joining campus sororities or fraternities. "Wake Wednesday" is the big weeknight to go out, either to a fraternity house or, for a change of scenery, a local bar such as the popular West End Opera House. Most students love the Old Gold and Black, even if they say they live in a "Wake Bubble."