Counselors

student walking through campus on fall day with orange and red leaves
two students smiling and doing homework

Counselors

MAKING DUKE A REALITY

We know that guiding students through the college selection process while also catering to individual academic interests can be a juggling act. We are always willing to assist high school counselors with the college admissions process and encourage you to take advantage of the information provided below.

two students smiling and doing homework
student walking through campus on fall day with orange and red leaves
crowd of students in the stands, dressed in duke blue cheering and waving
Cameron Crazies paint themselves before Duke Mens basketball game.

IMPORTANT DATES

NOV 16, 2020

Early Decision Deadline

JAN 4, 2021

Regular Decision Deadline

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01 - PICK AN APPLICATION

The first step for our admissions process is for students to submit an application using either the Common Application or Coalition Application. Both applications include a one-page personal essay as well as short essay questions specific to Duke.

For a quick reference of deadlines, click here.

02 - CHOOSE EARLY OR REGULAR DECISION

Students who know that Duke is their first choice may apply through our Early Decision program. By applying Early Decision, students must commit to enroll at Duke if they are admitted in December. Regular Decision applicants can apply to as many colleges as they choose and can wait until the spring to make a commitment to the college of their choice. There is an advantage in the admissions process to applying Early Decision. During the 2018-2019 application cycle, we admitted 18% of students who applied Early Decision and 6% of students who applied Regular Decision.

03 - SEND MATERIALS

Once we receive the student-submitted portions of our application, students receive an email to access their Application Checklist, which reports application materials that have been received. Required materials include a high school transcript, first quarter and/or midyear grades, SAT or ACT test scores, recommendation letters, and an application fee. Optional application materials include alumni interviews and artistic supplements. We also recommend non-native English speaking students complete an English proficiency test. Counselors, teachers, or other recommendations, may visit the Common Application or Coalition Application for more information about submitting their recommendation letters and other materials.

Enrolling students are required to submit final transcripts by July 6. Please use the Final School Report form and submit through the Common Application or Coalition Application. You may also email a PDF of the transcript to undergrad-admissions@duke.edu. Due to University policies regarding COVID-19, Undergraduate Admissions is not receiving paper mail at this time.

04 - LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

Q. How are letters of recommendation used in the Duke admissions evaluation process?
A. Letters of recommendations (LORS) are just one of many factors that are evaluated in our admissions process. They are helpful in supplementing academic information (curriculum, grades, test scores, etc.) and to help show the applicant as a scholar and person within their community. Often, LORs complement the student’s personal statement and provide context to the application beyond that shared by the student.

Q. How many letters of recommendation does Duke require?
A. Duke asks for three letters of recommendation: one from a school counselor and two from teachers. The teacher recommendations should come from instructors in core academic classes. Ideally, we prefer recommendations from instructors who have taught the student during their last two years of school. However, especially this year, we are happy to accept recommendations from 10th-grade instructors who know the student well.

Q. Our school does not have a college/guidance counselor. Who should provide that recommendation?
A. We recognize that not every school has a college or guidance counselor. In these circumstances, a principal, head of school, curriculum coordinator, or another member of staff who can provide an overall sense of the student in the school environment is welcome to submit the recommendation.

Q. What should I include in my counselor letter for the student to make it most effective?
A. Counselor letters are helpful in our process when they provide the following:

  • Information about the school and community
  • Context about the student within the school community
  • Context about the student within your professional experience
  • Highlighting the student’s achievements outside the classroom, if known
  • Any special or personal circumstances concerning the student you believe we should know

Q. I am a school counselor, but due to my caseload I am not able to meet with/get to know all of my students. Will this hurt them in the application process?
A. No. We understand that many students are not able to build relationships with their counselors for various reasons, and this will not negatively impact their application review.

Q. What should be included in teacher recommendations?
A. Teacher recommendations are most effective when they provide examples of a student’s academic ability, intellectual curiosity, and motivation to learn and grow. We like to hear about a student’s impact and contributions to the classroom, their particular strengths, and how they stand out (not just academically) from their peers, both within their current community and from your professional experience. Any anecdotes you can share to highlight strengths are welcome; your interactions with your students (even if small – or virtual) can often reveal traits that we seek in the admissions process.

Q. Do you have a preferred format for letters?
A. No. We encourage counselors and teachers to provide their recommendations in the most convenient and effective format for them, whether in a narrative format or in bullet points. However, we strongly recommend LORs be no more than one and a half pages long, two pages at the most.

Q. In light of COVID-19, is there any additional information you would like letters of recommendation to provide?
A. We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected students, teachers and schools in various ways, disrupting both junior and senior year experiences. While we will be taking this into consideration when reviewing applications, we always appreciate any further contextual information you can provide in your letters or school profile. This can include changes to grading systems, school policies and calendars, extracurricular opportunities, and teaching models. If you have specific information about a student’s home learning environment or other relevant information about the impact of COVID-19 on that individual, please feel free to include that as well.

Q. Should I advise my students to complete the Community Disruption response on the Common Application or Coalition Application?
A. Duke admissions officers will read all short answer responses supplied by the student, including the Community Disruption response, which allows students to share how they have been impacted by events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and global affairs to share their experiences. We particularly encourage those students who have been impacted beyond the norm in your community to utilize that space, if they feel comfortable doing so, but any student who wishes to share information about how their studies have been disrupted should feel free to do so.

Q. Do you accept additional Letters of Recommendation?
A. Yes, though we strongly recommend students submit no more than one additional letter. Often, the most effective additional letters of recommendation come from someone outside of the school setting, such as a coach, a religious leader, a research advisor, or community service or job supervisor, who has meaningful insight into an applicant that wouldn’t otherwise appear in the application.

Q. If there is something I do not feel comfortable sharing in my letter or if I have an update, is there another way to relay that information?
A. You can reach out to your regional Admissions Officer via email to provide an update or to arrange a phone call.

05 - DECISION NOTIFICATION

After thoroughly reviewing each application and making committee-based decisions, we release decisions for our Early Decision notification plan around mid-December. Regular Decision applicants receive notice before April 1. Our college decision deadline is May 1.

01

ESTIMATE

Students and families should utilize our Net Price Calculators.

02

Apply

Students should complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile.

03

Review

Students evaluate our offer.

04

RENEW

Students reapply each year

Duke in Your Area

GET A SNEAK PREVIEW

Every fall and late spring, our admissions officers travel throughout the United States and the world to give high school students and families an inside glimpse of the Duke experience. Programs such as Discover Duke and Exploring College Options provide an overview of various academic and research opportunities, campus life, study abroad destinations, and the application and financial aid process. Visit our events calendar to see when Duke will be in your area.

Because all university travel is suspended currently due to COVID-19, regional admissions officers are accommodating requests from school and CBO counselors for virtual visits with groups of high school students. Please contact your regional admissions officer.

first year students in a crowd on the field wearing Duke t-shirts and posing for a photo
Duke Class of 2023 at the annual class photo during Orientation Week.