My visit to Duke University started on the plane ride. A Duke student happened to be in the row next to mine. She expressed her love for Duke but happened to mention that some of the dorms are not air-conditioned and if I’m admitted it would take a doctors note to get an air-conditioned dorm. I have had a desire to see what Duke University is all about for years. The sports, the spirit, the beautiful campus, and yes the weather.
Duke obviously offers a top-notch education. It shares its applicant pool with the likes of Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia. Those three competing institutions have dropped their Early Decision policy and now have Regular Decision only. Duke still has it’s Early Decision option and the admit rate Early Decision is much higher than it’s Regular Decision admit rate of approximately 20%. I planned my visit around Labor Day weekend with that in mind.
We stayed at the golf course hotel on campus. It was amazing, a five star experience. The information session verified what a great education and multitude of opportunities that admission to Duke would afford me. I was particularly impressed with the freshman year Focus Program. In your first semester you can take a cluster of seminar programs that focus on one topic. Each seminar gives you a different perspective on the same topic. Duke also has specific Certificate Programs. This allows you to supplement your major area of study with a distinctive minor. For example, a political science major combined with documentary studies.
Now on to the tour. The campus was truly beautiful, with a gothic style chapel as a focal point. Students were about one to two weeks into class. I was excited to see the Duke spirit. Unfortunately I didn’t. There weren’t excited groups of students walking around, laughing and engaged in their Blue Devil clothes. The atmosphere seemed somber. The tour guide mentioned the air-conditioning and doctor’s note as well. The tour did not inspire me. After the tour my parents and I walked the campus. We came upon a girl’s field hockey tournament. We watched for a half hour. Not a lot of spectators and not a lot of spirit. Come on, I’m at Duke! We went to the freshmen dorms to see for ourselves. I asked a freshmen if we could see his dorm and he was kind enough to let us in. The dorms were nice, plenty of room but no A.C. It was in the eighties outside and stifling inside. Now I realize you don’t choose a college for it’s air conditioning, but we are in the south.
Overall Duke is an amazing University with a breathtaking campus and top-notch education, but bring a fan.