Admission Tips from a Duke Sophomore: Choosing between Duke and Berkeley

March 23, 2014

Where my parents went to school definitely affected my thought processes when deciding where to go to college, but did not affect the ultimate outcome. My father went to UC Berkeley which is where he wanted me to go. He would mention many good aspects of the school: why he liked it and, why he thought it would be  a good fit for me, etc. To be honest, he had many valid points and made my decision between Duke and Berkeley a very difficult one. 

I liked Berkeley because they have a very strong engineering program and had what I wanted to study (industrial and operational engineering). Not to mention it’s in San Francisco, possibly my favorite place in the world with fantastic weather.  On the other hand however, I had talked to friends who said it was close to impossible to get the courses they wanted because of the high demand and limited class spots.  Duke on the other hand, appealed to me because of its strong collegiate community. Because it is secluded and isolated in North Carolina, there is a very tight, community feel, which tends to be very spirited. Also, having a strong basketball team appealed to me because I love sports and environments that support them. I ultimately chose Duke despite my father’s influence on Berkeley because I knew that I would only go to college for 4 years and wanted the full collegiate experience. I knew that if I chose Berekely I would be choosing California over a school atmosphere, and decided that if I liked California that much, I could always live there after I graduate. 

Although my dad wanted me to go to Berkeley, I knew that he supported my decision unconditionally which I feel very fortunate about. For all of you high schoolers deciding right now about what school is better for you, use your GUT. When it comes to complicated decisions like choosing your college, definitely weigh out the pros and cons, but use your heart and intuition. Rather than choosing a school for your parents and regretting it afterwards, be brave and choose the school that you know is right for you.

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MIT ‘20

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