It's difficult to overstate the beauty of North Carolina in the spring. Nor is it possible to overstate how difficult it is to get into Duke, which has a 7% acceptance rate. Here is some information from the Fiske Guide:
Students opt for one of two undergraduate schools: the Pratt School of Engineering and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. The school’s engineering programs—particularly electrical and biomedical—are national standouts. Natural sciences, most notably ecology, biology, and neuroscience, are also first-rate. The proximity of the Medical Center enhances study in biochemistry and global health. Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy offers an interdisciplinary major—unusual at the undergraduate level—that trains aspiring public servants and future leaders of nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and other bodies that shape public life. Internships and apprenticeships are a big part of the program. Duke’s English and dance programs are notable, but students say the language offerings can be weak. Duke has more than 60 interdisciplinary centers, including the Duke Global Health Institute, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. Computer science attracts the most majors, followed by economics, public policy studies, and biology.
As any sports enthusiast knows, Duke has been synonymous with championship basketball, but now that Coach K has left, (although it is said he still shows up at his old office every day) continued success is to be determined. The campus itself is lovely, it was a hot day when I visited and the tree-lined streets offered a welcome respite from the sun. Duke's buildings are a mixture of Gothic and Georgian architecture, and the blend delivers an idealized version of a college campus.
A student emailed me yesterday wondering why two people he knew had been accepted into UC Berkeley. He thought they shouldn't have gotten in because of their GPAs, and he felt they hadn't taken as many APs as other students who were denied admission. The answer is simple: colleges want to see passionate pursuit of a major, and if a student demonstrates this, then they will often be accepted before a student with a higher GPA. Now to be clear, GPA is still the single most important factor in admissions, but if a college is looking at a student with a 4.1 who has done very little outside of required classes, admissions reps may be more inclined to admit a 4.0 who has taken college-level classes, held a leadership position in a club related to their area of interest, participated in a summer program, and done some research on the subject. A statement I hear repeatedly from admissions professional is that they are looking for students who will add to the intellectual vitality of the campus. Students should ask themselves how they are demonstrating their interests, and what are they pro-actively doing to pursue them.
UNC Charlotte does not feel like a satellite campus. With about 20,000 undergraduates, it offers seventy seven undergraduate majors, including Graphic Design, Mathematics, Computer Science, Business, and Fire Services Administration. It is relatively easy to gain admission to UNC Charlotte, which admits about 80% of applicants. UNC Charlotte reminded me of James Madison in Virginia. It's a large accessible state school that provides an affordable education in a lovely setting. In-state students pay only @ $22,000, and out-of-state COA is a very reasonable $36,000. UNC Charlotte is primarily a regional university, with only 2% international and 7% out-of-state students.
Davidson College - Beautiful, Selective, and Where Stef Curry Played College Basketball
With an 18% admission rate, Davidson College is a highly selective liberal arts college. The drive to campus is lovely and the campus itself is one of the most beautiful I have toured. Here's how the Fiske Guide describes it: "Located in a beautiful stretch of the North Carolina Piedmont, Davidson’s wooded campus features Georgian and Greek Revival architecture. The central campus is designated as a national arboretum, and college staff lovingly maintain a collection of the woody plants that thrive in the area. Davidson retains its original quadrangle, which dates from its founding in 1837, plus literary society halls built in the 1850s."
A classic liberal arts college, there are no teaching assistants, every course is taught by a professor. Opportunities abound to work with the accessible faculty, who are there out of a love of pedagogy. Davidson has just under 2000 students. Academics are challenging, but the community is supportive rather than competitive. The school operates on the honor code and doors are left unlocked without worry. Papers are turned in with the word "Pledged" to indicate the work is the student's alone.
As all Warrior fans know, Davidson is the college where Stef Curry played. And where he finally graduated with a major in sociology in 2022 after playing in the NBA for 13 years. While Stef may make more than the average sociology major, the fact that he returned to graduate is a testimony to the love of learning exemplified by all Davidson students.
Masland Educational Consulting