Why Duke? - Duke University - College Review

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Why Duke? - Duke University - College Review



Duke University offers a student a very appealing blend of top-flight, rigorous academics plus various opportunities to enjoy a greatly rewarding student life. A high degree of school spirit and overall enthusiasm for Duke University is also driven by big-time athletic programs especially the Duke Basketball team. Opportunities for student research and to engage in community service projects also further enhance a well rounded Duke experience.


Strength of the School:

Duke University provides an enviable balance between providing a student a great education and a fun, rewarding social life. It also offers a student the option to participate in a wide variety of community service activities. In addition, Duke’s strong record of success on the basketball court adds to its name recognition with the public. Duke also has an influential alumni network that is available to offer internship and career opportunities to aid a student's future.

Duke has succeeded in its ambitious and multi-faceted mission to join the ranks of the top ten United States universities in research and academics. Duke offers the perfect blend of the best qualities of a premier liberal arts school and of a world class research institution. Duke includes highly regarded professional and graduate-level schools such as the graduate Fuqua School of Business, the Duke Law School, the Graduate School of Engineering, the Medical School plus the nation’s largest interdisciplinary research facility called the Levine Science Research Center. These schools plus several more make Duke a top recognized national center of research.

The already well-regarded, beautiful and architecturally distinctive campus in a wooded environment located near downtown Durham, North Carolina has been greatly enhanced by a variety of relatively recent construction projects to upgrade living and academic facilities around the campus.



-          Duke has a total of ten schools and colleges of which two are undergraduate schools. 80% of undergraduates are enrolled in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the remaining 20% are enrolled in the Pratt School of Engineering. Trinity College offers more than forty undergraduate majors and minors and twenty undergraduate certificate programs.


-          The Trinity College student has distribution requirements called the General Education Requirement. The engineering students are exempt. The General Education Requirement includes two courses completed in each of five distinct academic areas. There is also a foreign language requirement and a writing course requirement. A First Year Seminar and two Small Group Learning Experiences must also be completed. In addition, majors and minors have their own distinct requirements.


-          Duke accepts students that have truly excelled in the classroom. Duke students are highly competitive and strive to earn top marks. There is a high degree of pressure to achieve and academics at the school are challenging. On the other hand, Duke students will assist one another and group study sessions are not uncommon. The atmosphere is competitive rather than cutthroat.


-          Professors are rated highly and are available by scheduling time during office hours for consultation. Duke professors are well regarded for their teaching abilities. Overall, Duke students generally do not rave about their professors but they are very satisfied with their effectiveness.


-          Duke offers its share of the usual very large lecture hall style classes for many introductory courses, however, the typical size of most other classes are small and manageable.


-          With its medical school, engineering school and various highly regarded graduate science and liberal arts programs, Duke excels as a major center of research. Breakthroughs in various fields of knowledge and discoveries by Duke faculty and researchers are well documented. All these research activities provide opportunities for undergraduates to get involved and participate in various studies. 


-          Duke students have excelled in earning national and international academic acclaim. Duke produces its own outstanding share of Rhodes, Fulbright, Truman and Goldwater scholars comparing favorably with other outstanding schools in the country.


-          Duke is endowed with one of the largest library systems in the United States. Duke students enjoy the great study and research support provided by these extensive academic resources.


-          Community service is a major focus at the school and Duke offers multiple programs to engage students. One of Duke's unique community service programs is Duke Engage. Duke Engage is a highly supported program for the student who wants to take some time away from the standard classroom experience and perform community service in the United States or abroad. The program enables students for semester or over the summer to participate in direct service to a community that needs some type of assistance. The key to this program is that Duke will provide the financial support necessary for a student to be able to participate in the program. Duke sponsors and provides a wide variety of other community service programs that allows and encourages students to give back.


Student/ Social Life:

-          The Duke campus is divided into four major sections, East, West, Central and a separate medical school area. Freshmen live on the East Campus that has distinctive Georgian style architecture. Central Campus has a combination of modern buildings and newer facilities that lack the architectural distinction of the other two campuses.


-          The main West Campus is noted for its very unique and attractive Gothic, Ivy League style architecture with the Duke Chapel standing distinctively in the middle of the campus. West Campus is the main campus of the University and contains many dorms, the majority of the academic and administrative centers as well as the major sports facilities.


-          Overall, the campus is large and exceptionally attractive and surrounded by a good deal of wooded land.


-          Duke has a distinctively suburban setting even though it is located relatively close to downtown Durham, a city of 200,000 people.


-          The campus setting is enhanced by a 55 acre botanical garden on the West Campus. Another attraction is the Nasher Museum of Art containing over 13,000 works, from world-famous artists. It is located right on the Central Campus.


-          Duke makes major efforts to have students connect with one another and create a sense of belonging to a distinct community within the larger Duke campus through its housing program.


-          All freshmen are housed together on East Campus. Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors live on either West or Central Campus with many Seniors choosing to live off-campus. Duke encourages the creation of communities of students who share common interests within the housing system. An example of this is the “Selective Living Groups”. These groups are created by students who share certain career or cultural interests and want to be housed together to enhance their college experience.


-          Greek life plays a prominent role on the Duke campus. Fifteen fraternities and nine sororities are housed on campus primarily in the Central Campus. Over 30% of Duke students are members of one of the Greek chapters and they are active in promoting social events.


-          It is often noted by students that Duke's undergraduate population of approximately 6,500 is an optimal size that allows one not to get lost in the crowd while at the same time having more than enough other students to interact with. Duke also has over 8,000 graduate students.


-          Duke attracts many students of privilege with upper-middle-class backgrounds. A common public perception is that all the school’s students share this type of background. A stereotypical image of a student associated with a fraternity and the accompanying lifestyle persists regarding Duke students. That being said, the generous financial aid policy has led to a Duke student population with diverse social, economic and lifestyle backgrounds. All types of students with varying interests can be found at Duke.


-          Athletics especially the men's basketball team brings the students together. The storied Cameron Indoor Stadium is the on-campus basketball arena. Cameron Indoor Stadium proves to be a hostile place for opposing teams to play because of the great school spirit shown by Duke students.


-          Athletes at Duke are true scholar-athletes; Duke’s strict academic standards require athletes to be proficient both on the field and in the classroom.


-          Duke's administration has a poor reputation of listening to students and addressing their concerns. The administration has made several important recent decisions regarding housing and on-campus parties that has created negative feelings with many of the students.


-          Overall there is very little interaction day-to-day between Duke students and the city of Durham. Duke students do frequent several off-campus restaurants and bars; however, Durham lacks the amenities that would attract students on a more regular basis. Durham is a medium-size city that faces urban challenges and often personal safety is an issue. Duke students tend to stay on campus for most activities.



Duke University is located in a suburban setting in the city of Durham, North Carolina which is a part of the Research Triangle. The Research Triangle is composed of the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill which includes the neighboring colleges of NC State and The University of North Carolina. The area of 2.7 million people is a major center of the new economy as well a sought after section of the country to live in that offers many interesting career opportunities, an appealing lifestyle and nice temperate weather all year round.

The immediate city of Durham is not favored by most Duke students because of its limited attractions and a multitude of social problems including poverty and crime. Other areas of the Research Triangle, including the state capitol Raleigh, and UNC’s Chapel Hill and surrounding suburbs are significantly better places to visit.



Don’t go to Duke if:

Don’t go if you can’t balance academics and social life. If you can’t, you won’t be able to take advantage of the complete Duke experience. It can be challenging to achieve this balance at Duke because academics are very challenging and there are many facets to the Duke social scene.  Also don’t go if you wouldn’t appreciate the pre-professional attitude of the school. On-campus life and activities dominate the Duke experience. Don’t go if you want off campus experiences as a significant part of your college life, Durham does not fit this bill.



Duke Interview- College Specific Questions to Ask the Interviewer:

-          How did Duke Basketball contribute to your college experience?


-          How did Greek Life affect your college experience? 


-          How did your housing situation affect your time at Duke?


-          How would you rate Durham and the Research Triangle as a place to live?


-          Did you take advantage of the DukeEngage program?


-          How would you describe the typical student at Duke?


-          What opportunities are there for undergraduate research?


-          Can you describe the sense of school spirit at Duke and what contributes to it?



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Duke Undergraduates: 6,500


Duke Famous Alumni:

Charlie Rose

Elizabeth Dole

Melinda French Gates

Ken Jeong

John J Mach


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