Early Decision at Duke

Duke Early Decision, Early Decision at Duke University, Duke Admissions

Duke’s Early Decision applications are down this year and, yes, we do believe Mercer’s upset of Duke in March Madness had something to do with it.

The figures for Early Decision at Duke are in. In all, 3,146 students applied through Duke’s binding Early Decision program this fall. The 3,146 students are not a high for the university and are indeed down from last year’s mark of 3,180 Early Decision applicants — a drop Ivy Coach accurately forecasted months ago. As we’ve been saying on the pages of this college admissions blog for years (and as we accurately predicted back in March), Duke is one of America’s most prestigious universities but the number of students that apply — both through its Early Decision program and through Regular Decision — is correlated with Duke’s success in March Madness. As much as Duke may be one of the nation’s greatest universities outside of basketball, basketball still impacts the undergraduate admissions figures if you track the data over the course of many years. Are there years in which there are exceptions? Yes. But you’ll note that the 3rd seeded Duke Blue Devils were upstaged by the 14th seeded Mercer Bears in one of the NCAA Tournament’s greatest — if not the greatest — upset last March. Duke did not advance far in the tourney and their admissions figures are down. Coincidence? We think not.

According to an article on Early Decision at Duke in “The Duke Chronicle,” “Through the mid-2000s, Duke consistently admitted approximately 30 percent of each incoming class through early decision. As applications have increased, however—more than doubling from 2002 to 2013—Duke has admitted more of its class early, hitting nearly half of the class last year. ‘We’re pleased at the number of students who have already decided that Duke is their absolute top choice for college,’ [Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph] Guttentag said in the release. ‘These are students who have outstanding academic and personal qualities, and who are excited at the prospect of attending Duke. They’ve applied from all 50 states and from 62 countries, and we look forward to reading their applications and hearing their stories.’ According to the release, the Pratt School of Engineering saw an increased number of early applications. The most popular states for applicants were North Carolina, New York, California, Florida, New Jersey and Virginia.”

Do you disagree with our assessment that Duke’s admissions figures are tied, in some way, to Coach K’s team’s success in March Madness? Have you read our blog on the admissions impact of our friend Jim Larranaga’s run with George Mason University to the Final Four in 2006? If not, check it out and then get back to us on Duke.


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