Harvard or Duke University Scholars Program?

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Harvard or Duke University Scholars Program?
By Psychokitty627 (Psychokitty627) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 12:28 pm: Edit

sorry, yet another vs post.. but i'm semi-desperate. I have 2 days before I have to respond to Duke, and am absolutely, hopelessly torn, and was hoping someone might be able to help...

I've been accepted to the University Scholars Program at Duke, and to Harvard.. among others, but those are the 2 I'm trying to decide between.

Monetarily, both are good deals - Duke is giving me full tuition and funding for a summer research project/internship/study abroad, but in terms of actual amount it turns out being not too much more than what harvard is giving me - although harvard costs more to begin with. I'll only have to pay $3500 myself, through a loan and job, and I'm not worried at all about that. My parents will have to pay about $6000 more a year for Harvard, but my grandparents gave me close to $20,000 for my college education, so that covers 3 years of the extra cost.

I want to study science and philosophy in college, and then do law school. College for me is simply somewhere to learn more things in the fields I'm interested in intellectually, and it doesn't have to tie in to my future occupation at all - in fact, I'd rather it not be too closely tied, since I'm going to be spending the rest of my life doing/studying law, and I want to take the flexibility of the US system and fulfill interest in college, for the sake of knowing. I also don't want to spend 6 years in the same place, so if I go to Harvard, I won't go to Harvard for law.

That said.. academically they're both incredibly good schools, and I'm sure both have amazing professors (although a friend tells me harvard's losing it's good professors "in hords" - is this true?). Given what I want to study, though, Duke with it's large number of programs, including minors and concentrations, in addition to majors, and the possibility of an individualized or joint major, seems more flexible. The University scholars program is especially interdisciplinary, which i like. On the other hand, Harvard's joint majors could be just as good, and I could create my own major there as well.

I've always lived in a college town, and I kind of wanted to live somewhere bigger for once... but I'm more at home in a small town. Of course this doesn't mean I wouldn't adapt and grow to love a city, and when I was applying I did consider city size - i wanted to be somewhere with more resources, with more culture (shows, museums, whatever) and get a broader view of life. That said, I'd probably be perfectly happy in a college town too... and the Duke area is beautiful, with great weather. I also think the Duke campus is prettier.. although I loved cambridge, and it's proximity and easy access to other schools/friends/cities is great.

I'm japanese, live in Japan, and so Duke was a surprise in that it had a lot more of the southern blonde type people (no offense.. I think they're beautiful, just not too used to them) than I expected. I do want to go somewhere diverse - in terms of both people from within the US, and internationally. However, both schools are large enough that they are diverse - although I saw a lot more asians at Harvard than duke, and I may possibly feel more at home somewhere where I don't completely stand out.

As for the people - the few people I talked to at Harvard (my friend and her friends) were great - fun, friendly, and incredibly intelligent and interesting. I thought they were the kind of people I would want to be friends with. That said, I saw a lot of people around harvard square that I probably wouldn't have been friends with too. I talked to a lot more people at Duke, and therefore met my share of people who were not my type, but the university scholars group was great. I did see more evolving around the getting-drunk-at-parties thing than I would have liked, but then again it was the night of the final 4 game, so I'm not sure I blame them. The people there who had chosen Duke over an ivy said they did it for the better social life, and to many of them, that meant drinking.

One other quick point - my aforementioned friend tells me that harvard is not the safest campus - that there have been numerous sexual assaults on campus in broad daylight in the past month, that if any of the sons of the rich, traditional families does anything the university doesn't do anything about it, that the emergency phone system isn't manned and is no good. Is this really the case?

sorry about the length...
Any opinions on these or any other points would be greatly appreciated.. thanks so much!

By Twinzor1 (Twinzor1) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 05:03 pm: Edit

Congratulations! - what a nice dilemma to have. While Durham has grown significantly over the past few years, it will never be confused with Boston. As you probably know, the student body has a spirit, a swagger, unlike that which exists in many other places, and dominates most interactions with students from other local schools (UNC, NC State, etc.) The swagger stops, though, when you mention Harvard- there always seemed to me to be a complex with many Dookies, almost a paranoia, around proving that they could compete with Harvard, and either didn't apply or simply chose not to attend. They still have shirts there which state "Harvard - the Duke of the North." On a spring or fall day, i can't think of many places in the US more beautiful than Duke's campus; you may actually walk through the forest to class. Can be hot and uncomfortable in the summer months. Transportation may be something you'd want to consider; Durham buses stop running a bit after midnight - so it is very much car-centric once you leave the campus vicinity. Somewhat a sense of isolation, but not atypical of big time-small town schools. School pride is rabid. Duke's sports legacy can be a curse at times ("Duke- that's that basketball school in NC.")

Purely personal impressions.

By Gabypa (Gabypa) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 07:08 pm: Edit

Aw, I saw your post in the HarvardCollege08 Y! group, too. :-( I, a fellow intl, was in a dilemma like yours a while back (Chicago College Hr Scholar or H), but I ended up opting for H. I don't have that much time rite now to explain to you my reasons, but I'll e-mail you directly whenever I get back.

I surely hope to see you in Boston!

By Ambitiousyokel (Ambitiousyokel) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 07:33 pm: Edit

Reading the post makes it sound like you want to go to Harvard more. I did a summer program at Duke. I absolutely fell in love, and even if I don't go to Duke for a grad program, I'll always love the school. But I'm called by Harvard College '08.

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