As the deadline approaches for high school seniors to decide which college they would like to attend, I want to present an argument for why Duke University is one of the best -- if not the best -- in the world. That said, I am biased towards my alma mater and other people may feel similarly about other schools. But when considering schools, Duke should definitely be one of the top of your list.
1) Potential for more growth
One of my friends four years ago asked me if I wanted to be known for having attended specific a university, or if I wanted to be remembered for making a difference at a university. My answer was the latter. Duke is considered one of the top academic institutions in the U.S. but it is also one of the youngest among similar schools. Don't let the gothic buildings fool you, but Duke didn't officially become Duke University until 1924 and the Chapel wasn't constructed until 1935. As a point of reference, the first television sets were also first commercially sold in the late 1920s. If Duke could come so far in such a short time, just imagine the potential Duke has in the future. Very few top academic institutions have been able to become world-class in such a short time, and there is so much more potential for growth. You could be remembered as one of those who contributed to Duke's continued search for excellence.
2) Administrators and professors care
Just like people, no school is perfect and it is unreasonable to expect any to be. However, schools should listen to its student population and always try to improve. Duke goes one step further and actively seeks out student opinions. Dean and Vice-Provost Steve Nowicki of the Office of Undergraduate Education even has traveling office hours where he goes to various places on campus to better interact with students in a casual setting. Professors invite students over to their houses on a normal basis and students can invite professors out to eateries on the university's dime. It shows that the school cares and want to always improve, and gives students an opportunity to interact with professors in a relatively informal setting. It's surprising how much this matters in the long run.
3) School spirit
Most people already know this, but Duke has a notable men's basketball team and a spirited fan base that support them. I am usually not a big sports fan, but even I have tented for tickets to the annual Duke-UNC basketball game, and argued animatedly with my friend at University of Michigan about who's going to win NCAA. Duke's school spirit is contagious. It breaks down barriers and makes it easier to get to know more people around you. Meet a Dukie anywhere in the world, and you will be sure to be able to talk for hours.
4) Food plan
Duke has one of the most innovative food plans in the nation. In addition to the buffet style typical of college dining halls, Duke also uses a system called Food Points, which is essentially money, but can be used only for food. Students can use Food Points to buy different food across campus at different eateries, from national chains like Au Bon Pain to small locally owned restaurants like the Food Factory. Craving Starbucks? You can get it on meal plan. However if you would prefer a more buffet style, it is also available in exchange for a set amount of Food Points.
5) Durham and North Carolina
I am originally from the Midwest, and have never really thought much about the south until I came to Duke University. Though many would argue that Duke is not representative of the true south, North Carolina is. North Carolinian food is absolutely exquisite and southern culture one of the nicest you will ever meet. Combine that with Durham, one of the most livable cities for young people, and you have an environment that really couldn't be beat. By the time that you reach third or fourth year of college, you will undoubtedly want to venture out beyond the walls of your college, and Durham with its glittering list of restaurants is one of the best places to do so. Not to mention, Duke has a garden on campus, an entire forest and the world's biggest lemur center outside of Madagascar not that far away.