Durham, NC: Recently, my parents and I toured five different colleges in the North Carolina/ Virginia area: UNC at Chapel Hill, The College of William and Mary, University of Richmond, Wake Forest University, and Duke University. The school that impressed me the most was Duke. It was founded in 1838 by Quaker and Methodist farmers and schooled a group of 50 males. Today it has grown into a university with 6,380 undergraduate males and females from 50 states, 43 countries, and every background imaginable.

When I arrived at the immaculate campus, I was amazed at the architecture and the size of Duke. It is divided into four parts: East, West, North, and Central Campuses. The East Campus is home to the freshman dorms, which gives the class a wonderful opportunity to get to know one another, and it houses academic buildings for the entire university. These Georgian buildings surround a large academic quad that provides a place for the students to study, hang out, and have fun. The West Campus, an older area with Gothic-style buildings, gives the campus a historical sense. The North Campus includes residence halls and dining halls. The Central Campus consists of Duke-owned apartments for those choosing to live off-campus. The Duke Chapel, the center of the campus, seats 1,700 and attracts visitors from around the world.

The landscape is a perfect green, and the Division I athletic fields are in tip-top shape. We were fortunate enough to peek inside a dorm room, which was spacious and well-equipped with all the necessary furniture. All the dorms have access to the Internet and e-mail. Housing is guaranteed all four years, but some choose to live off-campus. The William Perkins Library contains eight on-campus branches, including those for Divinity, Law, Medicine, and Business.

The university is divided into two schools: the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. The most popular majors include biology, psychology, history, English, public policy, and economics. The professors are impressive, 97% having Ph.Ds. The student-faculty ratio is 12:1. Duke offers an extensive study abroad program to more than 125 countries.

The students seemed a little quiet and reserved, but our particular tour was in the early morning. Our tour guide was very enthusiastic about Duke and exemplified its school spirit. Athletics are exceptional at Duke, with 24 varsity sports for men and women and a full range of intramural, recreational, and club sports. Duke also sponsors over 200 clubs and organizations, so there is something for everyone.

The surrounding area is quaint, and just a few minutes away is the bustling center of Durham, home to 150,000 and nicknamed the City of Medicine. Durham and nearby cities Raleigh and Chapel Hill form the “Research Triangle,” which is the primary center of culture, education and high technology business for the area. As we were told, there is never a dull moment in Duke college life, and because of the difficulty in applying, all the students are ardent about their first-choice decision.

If a medium-size institution with excellent academics, athletics, and standards sparks your attention (as it did mine), I would recommend looking into Duke University. f

Review by Danielle Thibeault, Hanover, MA

Reviewed in 1997