<p>I'm also a freshman but I have a bit different perspective.</p>
<p>1.) Yes there are really too many good things about Duke to list. I also agree that the campus is one of the nicest you will ever find. But I think that the atmosphere is not relaxed/relaxing (unless you're somehow taking classes that are easy for you or you just don't care...). Everyone is very self-motivated and driven and I wouldn't say that I have been relaxed during the school week at all. It's tough to do well and there's a lot of work.
I personally was drawn to Duke's mentality. Other schools I looked at (certain ancient schools in the northeast...) seemed to have the attitude "we're so great, we're just the best and there's no disputing it". Duke is different: it is never satisfied with the status quo. We're in a huge building phase right now. It doesn't affect student life, but we are building so many new state-of-the-art facilities, it's crazy (in a very good way). </p>
<p>2.) Yes there are some very rich kids/legacies that slack off and party all the time. I'm not sure what the worst thing is... if I could change one thing though I would put east campus right next to/within walking distance of west campus. The bus system can be a real pain. I like the whole east campus freshman thing, but I can't wait to move onto west next year.</p>
<p>3.) Political Science and economics are both popular, and public policy is extremely popular. On your visit, did you see Sanford Institute of Public Policy? It's a beautiful neo-contemporary-type-Gothic building and they're building another new building right next to it also for poly sci because the major is growing. If you're interested in that I would definitely say go for it.
Aside from those, popular majors are biology, chemistry, and religion. Duke25, you are brave for doing a chem major, that's one of the hardest ones. But all the natural sciences here are competitive and difficult because they're so popular. And we don't have grade inflation (I'm almost positive; if we have any it's minimal, esp. in sciences)</p>
<p>4.) Yes the student and faculty body at Duke is definitely slanted liberal. There is a conservative presence here though.
It's easy to make friends here, it's almost impossible not to in fact. But after the first couple weeks it becomes rather impersonal, which is bound to happen at a school of Duke's size. The academic atmosphere is mostly people working pretty hard. There's definitely time to do other stuff though, and most people do lots of other things besides academic studies. </p>
<p>5.) I'm from the northeast also like Duke25 and the weather is definitely better down here. When it rains it doesn't rain for long and all those hurricanes you maybe heard about swirling around NC this summer/early fall pretty much missed us.</p>
<p>The relationships with professors are "it's what you make of it" but I think that's true of any school. Of course, all professors have office hours, and if you can't make it to those hours they're more than happy to make an appointment with you at your convenience. I'm not going to lie to you and say my gen chem professor knows all 450 kids in the class by name or even by face, but if you make the effort to see them they will. I am in a writing class that only has 11 kids in it so of course we're quite close with our professor, in fact, we call him by his first name. My language class only has like 14 so again the relationship is pretty close. Bottom line, all professors are accessible if you have problems and probably 99.5% are more than happy to talk with you (there's always that 0.5% that is generally grumpy or having a bad week or something at any school).</p>
<p>Good luck ED</p>