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Why I Applied ED to Duke University

Written by Anya Gupta, Duke University, College Contact Counselor



Simply put, applying to college early is a huge stress reliever. Your chances of getting admission are increased since you are in a smaller applicant pool, and you can have a potentially stress-free senior spring (and no college apps to write during winter break!). It’s also really valuable to apply early to a college and have a backup plan if things don’t work out. You have a lot more time to change up your essays or reassess the portfolio of schools you are applying to. For myself, applying ED meant there were a lot fewer college apps I had to write, and it was convenient to start planning to move in and start researching classes and organizations much earlier. 


However, applying early decision is also a binding process, and you may even have to rescind your applications to other schools once you have gotten into your school.  If you would like a wide range of places and choices to choose from, ED may not be for you - and that’s ok! I remember feeling a little bummed out about having to rescind my applications from UC Berkeley, UCLA, and some of the other state schools I had applied to. Sometimes it is nice to have choices, even if in your mind there was only ever one choice. Think about this before you apply ED!


Why Duke?


Surprising to many, I never actually visited Duke prior to applying ED - unless you count when I visited Duke gardens briefly when I was in 6th grade. For most of my childhood, Stanford was my “dream school”. Around junior-senior year of high school, I realized that I wanted to have a new experience, a little further than 10 minutes from where I grew up. I knew I wanted to study environmental science, go to a school with good sports, a medium-sized student body, and be in an area which would allow me to experience the full 4 seasons. The North Carolina climate seemed great, the running club Instagram was exciting, Duke basketball was incredible, I liked the course offerings for undergraduates, and had some extended family only 20 minutes from the campus. And so, I went “all in” with my ED application. A lot of people ask me if the reason I applied ED to Duke was because it was my “dream school”. No -  because I had no idea what it was like! I valued the security ED provided me. And, over time, as with any good experience, looking back - Duke was truly the perfect place for me. 


Any Regrets? 


For a little bit after getting into Duke, there was a “what-if” feeling that I felt. What if I had gotten into X? Would I have liked X better? Should I have thought more about my binding decision to go to Duke (aka, visit) before applying ED? These thoughts lingered only for a little bit. As time progressed, I realized the value of applying ED to a place I wasn’t all too familiar with. There were no preconceived expectations of what college should be like, or how Duke should serve me. Instead, I navigated the ups and downs of Duke with an open mind - and embraced every opportunity and experience for what it was, rather than what I expected it would be.

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