Admissions Applications Set Record—Again


Paperwork: filing the deluge of applications

Paperwork: filing the deluge of applications.
Peter Gebhard/The Chronicle.

Competition for admission to Duke has always been keen, but this year it will be even harder for high-school students to become Blue Devils. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions said in early February that it had processed a record-setting 17,970 applications and expected to reach 18,000 applications by the time all applications had been counted. Applicants are vying for 1,640 places in the Class of 2009.

The university has seen a steady increase in applications during each of the past six years. This year represents a marked increase in the number of applications received--1,200 more than the university received last year, and 3,200 more than four years ago.

During February and March, admissions officers read and evaluated all applications. "In spite of the increase in applications, we will continue to read every single application from beginning to end," says Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions. "While people sometimes think we care only about academic qualifications, the selection process takes so long because the staff is incredibly dedicated to understanding each applicant as an individual."

In early April, 3,300 top high-school students from across the U.S. and dozens of countries will receive letters of acceptance to Duke. As in previous years, the admissions office will notify applicants of their admissions decisions online, as well as through the mail. The university expects 1,640 of the admitted students to enroll in the fall, including the 470 students who were admitted in December through the university's Early Decision program.

Guttentag calls the influx of applicants a "good-news-bad-news situation. It's wonderful that so many intelligent, accomplished students are interested in attending Duke, but it means that we'll have to deny admission to a good number of students who we would have admitted in previous years."

Last year, more than one in six applicants with class ranks were valedictorians, but fewer than half were admitted to Duke. Almost 3,000 applicants had SAT scores between 1,500 and 1,600, and the university admitted about two-thirds of them.

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