On whole, the professors at Duke are really good. Many of them are the leading voices in their field and are extremely passionate about the subject they teach. I've been lucky to have some really great classes with professors I admire a lot. However, with the amount and diversity of classes offered at Duke, you're bound to get some professors who aren't so great. You usually only really get to know a professor when you take smaller classes or seminars. Professors who teach seminars or smaller classes tend to be more invested in their students and more willing to meet outside of class. Its hard to get to know a teacher in a huge 200 person lecture.
Because there is such a wide range of activities and groups on campus, it is difficult to say which are the most popular. However the athletic programs and arts organizations on campus are extremely popular. Many students, both male and female, participate in club sports such as soccer and lacrosse which are organized more closely to varsity sports. However if a student wishes to have a less intensive sport involvement, there are also intramural teams that students organize together and play for fun. Although Duke is more widely known for its athletics, (namely the men’s basketball team) the arts organizations at Duke are prominent and strong. There is a wide range of cultural dance groups— outside of the Duke Dance Department— that have a large presence on campus. I am a member / leader of Duke’s premier multicultural dance group called Defining Movement. The group was founded on the pillars of multiculturalism and service, and promotes acceptance, unity, and diversity through art. Furthermore, the theater program at Duke is rather extensive. Students can watch their peers in various theater productions almost all year round. The two most sold-out performances on campus ever year, and my personal favorites, are Awaaz (the South Indian Diwali Dance Festival) and the acapella groups’ spring showcases. The social scene at Duke is very diverse and always fun! A student can decide to rush a Greek sorority/ fraternity, join a Selective Living Group, or remain unaffiliated. All rush processes occur in the spring which lets students first form friendships independent of their affiliations and then make more and new friends in the spring. Although the Greek community is large, it does not dominate all aspects of social life like it does at other universities. Like most college campuses, many social events and popular weekend activities include drinking, but Duke provides students with many fun and sober events every weekend through the Devils After Dark program. Everyone's favorites are the Disney sing-a-longs they put on about once a month.
I genuinely love Duke and truly believe that I wouldn’t be this happy at any other university. The best part of being at this university is being surrounded by students who possess such an amazing balance in their lives. The students achieve unbelievable successes in their academic endeavors and produce outstanding work, yet they maintain a healthy and active social life. Everyone I know is deeply involved with something other than just academics, whether it is sports, dancing, cultural clubs, or social activism. But the students are only able to fully explore all their interests because Duke provides so much for them. The countless opportunities and doors this university opens for its students still astounds me on a daily basis. Programs such as DukeEngage offers students with the chance to go abroad basically anywhere in the world for an entire summer—without financial and safety constraints—and participate in another culture through community service. It is also unusual that a university of this academic standing also has a long and excellent history of athletics and arts. Most students spend a lot of time on campus which is great because you truly get a feel for the Duke community. However, it is easy to get stuck in the “Duke bubble” and not venture out into the surrounding communities and cities nearby. This tendency to stay on campus with fellow Duke students is one of the more commonly heard critiques of Duke. But nevertheless, this environment produces a deep feeling of Duke pride and loyalty. My favorite and happiest memory will always be from my freshman year after the Duke men’s basketball team won the national championships. The entirety of the Duke community came together on the main quad in a sea of Duke blue to celebrate this great victory together.
I decided to go to Duke because of the amazing opportunities the school offers for its students. When I was deciding on which school to apply early to, I had narrowed it down to Duke and another university that I knew had a similar student culture and academic standing. So I decided that my decision would be based on dance and community service opportunities because those were my two passions in high school. Immediately I found Duke Engage through the Duke website and could not find an equivalent at the other school, or any school for that matter. The ability to travel to another country to do community service and engagement with all financial, living, and work accommodations provided for was something only Duke offers. I also found Defining Movement-- a multicultural hip hop fusion dance group-- very easily through the student group pages. I stalked all of their videos on YouTube and knew that if I got into Duke, I would try out for this group. I had found the Dance program at the other school, but it seemed very traditional and technical dance based and lacked outlets for other non-technical styles, such as hip hop. I ended up trying out for DefMo my freshman year and getting in! It is now my favorite and biggest form of involvement / leadership in the Duke community.
The most common stereotype of the students at Duke University comes from the media coverage of on campus “scandals.” Duke University has a consistent place in the media due to its excellent athletic and research programs. The successes of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, led by the infamous Coach K, are highlighted constantly thus keeping the university in the public eye. However this attention also facilitates a greater exposure of on campus issues and discussions. When incidents such as the Karen Owens PowerPoint or the fraternity party emails occur, the media immediately launches this image of the Duke University student as an elitist sexist frat “bro”. I also refer to this as the media’s Tucker Max syndrome: every Duke male is made synonymous with Tucker Max and his appalling antics, and every female one of his victims. However, this stereotype of Duke is a gross over exaggeration. Yes, this campus, like most other campuses around the United States, has its fair share of controversial incidents. And yes, there are certain people who do think and behave like the media portrays. This is to be expected with the large diversity of students that attend Duke University. But what the media doesn’t confess is that the main reason they know about our campus issues is because Duke University’s OWN students are the ones who bring them to public attention. The student body is smart and active and recognizes when these singular behaviors and actions reflect larger social issues. They call for on campus discussions with students, faculty, and administrators in order to bring to light the underlying reasons behind these incidents. So I would say that the stereotype is extremely false. Duke students demonstrate time and time again their appreciation for genuine discussion, activism, understanding, and progress.