In April, Duke mailed acceptance letters to 3,059 top high-school seniors, from every state and dozens of nations, vying for admission to the Class of 2006. The mailing brings the university's total offers of admission to 3,565 students, including 506 early-decision applicants accepted in December. Duke is targeting 1,616 of the accepted students for enrollment this fall.
"This was a particularly challenging year for applicants to Duke," says Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions. "We were fortunate to receive a record number of early-decision and regular-decision applicants, and the academic and extracurricular accomplishments were outstanding.
"One of the difficult parts of making admissions decisions on a pool of this size and scope is that we end up denying admission to students whom we would have admitted just a few years ago. This will be an entering class that will exemplify what we seek for Duke--students who have talents in many areas, who are committed to their communities, and who can't wait to take advantage of what Duke can offer them."
This year, Undergraduate Admissions received 15,860 applications, surpassing the record of 15,120 set in 1987. Last year, 14,711 students applied. The university admitted 22.5 percent of the applicants this year; as recently as five years ago, the admission rate was around 30 percent.
Other records broken this year:
There was also a record number of international applicants, 1,200, breaking the previous record of 753. "One primary reason for this is that we are offering need-based financial aid to international students for the first time," Guttentag says.
North Carolina remains the top state for admitted students, with 448. The remainder of the top five are Florida (289), New York (277), Texas (226), and California (211).
Guttentag says the number of applicants indicating they would apply for financial aid also increased this year, to the highest level in five years. "Part of the reason for this, again, lies in the presence of international students who are applying for aid, and part of it is most likely the result of a weaker economy."
Duke invests more than $30 million in undergraduate financial aid each year, and about 42 percent of its undergraduates receive financial aid. Duke admits students without regard to their ability to pay and then meets their demonstrated financial need.