Nearly 3,200 high school seniors have applied to Duke University this year under its Early Decision program, an increase of more than 600 students (or 26 percent) over last year.
The jump from last year's 2,540 applications to this year's 3,191 represents a record for the number of students applying Early Decision (ED) as well as the largest jump in ED applicants in a single year.
Those who apply via this process know they want to attend Duke and commit to enroll at the university if they receive an offer of admission in December. Last year, Duke admitted 753 Early Decision candidates, about 44 percent of the incoming class.
"We're very pleased with this increase in interest in Duke," said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions. "It's not always easy for students to be ready to make this level of commitment to a college so early in their senior year. The breadth of the pool this year reflects an understanding of the value of a Duke education and the Duke experience among a wide range of students."
Last year, in addition to the 2,540 Early Decision applications, Duke received more than 29,000 Regular Decision applications, the most in school history. Guttentag anticipates Duke receiving at least as many Regular Decision applications this year.
"Last year the size and quality of the Early Decision applicants allowed us to admit more students in December than we had in the past. The number we admit this year will depend very much on the nature of the applicant pool," Guttentag said. "We want to be responsive to students who have Duke as a clear first choice and who are ready to make a commitment to enroll.
"At the same time, we want to respect the many students who aren't quite ready to make that level of commitment, and leave enough room in the class for the many outstanding Regular Decision students who will apply."
Guttentag reported that application increases occurred across the applicant pool, and among every demographic group.
"While there was a particularly notable increase among North Carolinians, students of color, international students and students applying to the Pratt School of Engineering, the increase is really across the board," he said. "There are increases of more than 10 percent among every one of our top 10 states."
Top states for applicants are North Carolina, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey and Virginia.
The deadline for submitting Early Decision applications was extended to Nov. 8 this year because of widespread difficulties with the new online Common Application.
Students who applied Early Decision should learn in mid-December whether they have been accepted. Duke's deadline for Regular Decision applications is Jan. 2.