One thing you'll likely notice from your conversations with current Duke students and alumni (no matter how old) is that we really, really, really love our school. A lot. There's a reason the Duke alumni network is among the strongest, most financially supportive, and most professionally helpful in the country. We know what a great place it is, and we like to take care of our own.
There are so many factors that lead to this kind of nigh-obsessive Duke love, and those factors are often different for different people. For me:
- It's the perfect size. ~ 6,500 undergrads is big enough so you don't feel stifled, but small enough to provide tons of seminar-scale class sizes and lots of friendly familiarity with lots of people. Starting right off in Orientation Week, you feel like you could get to know anyone if you tried. Even the physical campus itself reflects this happy medium, feeling homey but grandiose.
- It's the perfect blend of work and fun. Obviously, Duke is a top 10 academic institution. School, grades, internships, etc. will/should be a significant part of your Duke journey for sure. You'll see plenty of people camping out late (REALLY late) in Perkins library, even early in the semester. But if you got into Duke, you're the type who thrives on that kind of pressure and academic challenge, and the environment is so warm and cooperative that you won't feel like a gunner trying to destroy his peers. Group study sessions, even if none of you are studying for the same class, are frequent and show that we're all in this together. At the same time, 4 years at Duke is an incredible amount of fun. Again, this could mean different things for different people. If you want to drink and socialize via the traditional partying, there's plenty of that. If you want to live in a tent for a month or more to score sweet seats at basketball games, there are hundreds of others who are thinking the exact same thing. If you just want to unwind and watch a movie in the common room, I guarantee someone else will be too tired to go out, too.
- The people. I've said it already so I'll try not to sound like a broken record too much. You will not find a better, more comprehensive blend of smart, talented, fun, vibrant students anywhere. Period.
- It opens doors. Coming to Duke, I was very ambitious, but also very naive. I wanted a lot of things in a potential career: responsibility, intellectual challenge, and a livable salary. I did not, however, have any kind of clear idea of what direction I should take. Luckily, you'll soon find that Duke does a stellar job of opening your eyes to new and different opportunities. Through the Career Center, associations of majors (e.g. the English Majors Union), various clubs and organizations, relationships with professors, and simple word-of-mouth, you will be exposed to so many internship possibilities and career paths. If you want to go the more traditional route of law, med, or grad school, you're definitely not alone. A huge percentage of Blue Devils choose those options every year, and the support system in place for guiding you through those application processes is great. That word "option" is the real key, though. All of these things and more are options, and by coming to Duke, you effectively open the door to all of them. You could go with the flow and pursue investment banking, consulting, tech at Facebook/Google/Twitter, government work, etc. or you could enter our Start-Up competition and get funding for an entrepreneurial shot at the next big thing. You could go to a top law school or you could do Teach For America. If you make the most of your Duke experience and really give 100%, you can choose any of these things that feels right to you, and that's a beautiful thing.