Duke students are generally happy with their
experience, but it's not impossible to find students who imagine they'd be happier somewhere else. Academics, friendships, and even the beauty of the campus make this school an easy choice for many. However, a lot of students are concerned about the top-down social programming they see coming from Duke's administration. Rather than starting their own initiatives, Duke undergrads often seem apathetic, and the administration, frantic to see things not only progressing, but progressing in the direction they see fit, tries to shove social programming down students' throats. Students and administration are still trying to find the balance of power and a unified direction. University politics have become a big concern, but the friendships students have forged seem to make up for whatever shortcomings they might perceive.
Duke is one of the top academic schools in the country, but that's not its hook. You'll never see Harvard's basketball team in the Final Four, or Yale students camping out for a week to get sports tickets. Obviously, basketball shouldn't be your major concern in choosing a college, but it is often used as an example because it typifies the difference between Duke and so many of the other top colleges. There's an emphasis on friends, social life, and fun here, and it's important to consider these aspects as well as academics when you're choosing a school. Remember, you're choosing the place you'll spend the next four years of your life, not just the name that shows up on your degree at the end.