A Visit to Warren Wilson College

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By Sue Luse


Warren Wilson is located in Asheville, North Carolina, in the western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. Its Downtown Art District is filled with galleries and museums.



Warren Wilson is a private four-year liberal arts work college. They are one of the few work colleges around. In addition to strong academics, they emphasize work and service as mandatory campus experience. They have a 600+ acre forest and living lab,as well as a working farm. Warren Wilson originally started as a farm school to provide basic education for boys from the Appalachian region. In 1942 it became a junior college and in 1967 it became a four-year liberal arts college. In 1981, they added a graduate program, an MFA in Creative Writing.

Student Population


Most of Warren Wilson’s approx 1,000 students come from over 100 miles away, with 80% from out-of-state. Most students are progressive, liberal, activists and intellectually curious about the world. Sustainability is important to the student body and 30% of the food comes from local sources, including their own farm and garden. They have a student-run vegan cafe. They are themost LGBTQ campus in North Carolina and considered a place where students can promote their own platform. Although the campus and surrounding area does not reflect ethnic diversity as much as the College would like, the campus does encourage a diversity of thought and experiences, in addition to promoting ethnic diversity as part of the College’s strategic priorities.

Student Life

Lofted area

Students are expected to complete a requisite course of study, work an on-campus job, and perform community service. Students work approx 15 hours a week and earn money for tuition. The work options include more than 100 work crews, with some popular ones being fine woodworking, farming, animal husbandry, crew, crafts, car mechanics, fiber arts, college press, arts, music, forestry and cleaning and kitchen jobs. Warren Wilson offers men’s and women’s sports as well as club sports. They also prepare students for applying to the Peace Corp. Approx 98% of students live on campus.


You can choose from 34 academic programs, 24 minors and a wide variety of concentrations. They also have an integrative studies option that lets you design your own major. With an average class size of 14, professors not only know your name, but your passion as well. The student to teacher ratio is 10:1. Advisors recommend which work crew students should be on that fits well with the students overall plans. They want students to experience the type of work environment they are interested in. Not only are there transcripts for grades, but for work and service as well. Warren Wilson’s top major is environmental science. Another popular major is creative writing.


Warren Wilson looks for balanced students with personal integrity and the desire to support the mission of the College. All available information is considered – academic records, evidence of academic and social maturity, extra-curricular activities, community service, SAT or ACT scores (but it is a test-optional school), essays, references, recent grade trends and contributions to school and community.

  • Has a high acceptance rate
  • Would rather see a lower GPA and a student that displays intellectual curiosity
  • Want to see a passion for learning
  • Use the Common app and supplements
  • Offer ED and EA
  • Approx $41,000 per year (through the Work Program all students receive compensation towards their tuition)
  • Scholarships up to $18,0000 available up; additional need-based aid awarded based on FAFSA
  • Very supportive of GAP years

What Kind of Student Would be Happy Here

Students who have a passion for learning and are naturally curious, hardworking, and are interested in the environment and sustainability. Those who want to make an impact on the world and believe that the process of becoming an adult is a holistic, whole-person process.

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