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Does DS have any chance of getting accepted to Duke?

AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
I know the acceptance rate is very low and even students who "should" be accepted get rejected. My question is DS's dream school is Duke. He wanted to apply ED, but we need to see what other colleges are offering. He is first gen and our first-born, so his Dad and I are clueless about the ins and outs of college admissions. DS has a strong GPA 4.61/5.00 weighted and 3.97/4.0 unweighted. He ranks 11 outr of 760. His ECs are very strong with solid Leadership and diversity, as well as many years of service. We don't expect a problem with his LORs. He had his English teacher and guidance counselor review his essay and both thought it was well written. The problem is he only got a 1510 on the SAT (730R/780M) with a 6/7/8 on the essay, Subject tests were also on the low side Math 2 740 and Physics 720. He took the ACT and got a 31 composite and a 10 on the essay - 36 Eng/34 Math/28 Sci/27 Reading (he has a processing disorder learning disability and struggles with completing the reading in the allotted time, which is why science and reading are so low). He will be taking the ACT again on Dec 14, but I don't expect a huge improvement since reading has always been his weak point. All tests were taken with no special accommodations because he wanted to be on the same playing field as everyone else. Likewise, all of his high school years were in regular classes with no IEP by his choice.

I'm not sure what Duke weighs the most in admission decisions. He's not legacy, an athlete, or URM, so there's no hook. His academics are strong, but his standardized testing is weak. He will be the first in our entire family history to ever go to college and we're very proud of him for that.

For those who are familiar with Duke, do you think he has any chance at all for getting accepted? Is it even worth it for us to pay the application fee and have him try?
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Replies to: Does DS have any chance of getting accepted to Duke?

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6134 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Duke is interested in first gen, so he has a hook. I think he has a shot. It's hard to say beyond that.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5790 replies84 threads Senior Member
    He’s a solid candidate. The ACT is not in line. The SAT is perfectly great at 1510. Thats outstanding.

    First gen helps and it is a hook today.

    Can he and (will he) are completely different answers.

    Perfect grades and perfect scores get rejected too.

    It’s a real jig saw puzzle and you have to have the right pieces and in the right spots.

    He has the right pieces imho but only the whole application will tell if it all came together.

    Good luck and get him looking at other schools right away. Watch videos on the schools website. etc

    Remember schools can’t love you back in reality. Only people and animals can do that.
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  • AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks gardenstatelegal. I didn't realize that a school like Duke would see fist gen as a positive. I thought they would look at it as a liability that he couldn;t handle school since he doesn't come from a line of successful people, just hard-working blue collar workers..
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5790 replies84 threads Senior Member
    Hi. It’s the Opposite. First generation matters. It is part a direct outreach to give a bit of upward push at very selective universities. They have to be qualified too but it’s a little help for some.
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  • AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks privatebanker. He already applied to 4 other schools, 2 of which should be safety schools and 2 which are not safteys, but aren't as much of a reach as Duke. He really loves Duke . I never realized how much work it is to fill out college applications and Financial Aid forms, so I hope he gets into one of the 5 schools. I'm trying to tell him not to get his heart set on any school and just want to see him get accepted to any school he'll be happy at.

    So true about schools not being able to love you back. I'll be sure to remind him of that. I wish I knew what pieces of the jigsaw puzzle Duke is looking for. I'm sure everyone applying does. I know one thing that's hurting us is that he didn't apply ED. We just could't risk committing without seeing what a less selective school might offer him in the way of Financial Aid.

    Good to know that even colleges on the Level of Duke won't look down on my son for being the first in the family to go to college.
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  • AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Private Banker - Sorry if I'm asking a stupid question, but what do you mean when you say his ACT is not in line?
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5790 replies84 threads Senior Member
    Absolutely not. And if they did I wouldn’t want to attend.

    Congratulations on raising such a fine young man and it’s your hard work that helped to let him thrive.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1394 replies26 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    I think what @privatebanker means is that your son's ACT score is lower than the SAT score. Even though they are different tests that measure somewhat different things, a 31 composite ACT score is supposed to be roughy equivalent to a 1400 SAT score. A 1510 SAT score is roughly equivalent to a 34 ACT. (Many students do better on one or the other test, and there's no need to send the lower score.) You can Google SAT/ACT concordance tables to see the whole range of scores and how the two tests line up.

    Good luck to him! No one should be looking down on him or your family! His accomplishment is to be congratulated and it looks as if he will succeed in life wherever he goes to school. I hope he finds another school (or a few) to apply to that he REALLY likes, as admissions these days is such a competitive game. No one seems to know the 'magic" formula for getting into any school.
    edited December 2019
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5790 replies84 threads Senior Member
    So for the ACT you would prefer to see the composite to be the 34 to 36 range. A 31 is excellent but not equal to the 1510 SAT.

    But don’t worry this is from Duke...


    “Duke will consider the highest scores on each section, regardless of test date, and will create a new composite score by averaging those scores. We recommend, but do not require, the optional essay. For students who submit both ACT and SAT scores, Duke will consider your best score.”
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35105 replies398 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    "I wish I knew what pieces of the jigsaw puzzle Duke is looking for"

    From their web site:
    https://admissions.duke.edu/what-we-look-for/

    Look at what they say and follow links. When they point out things like "doers" or "collaborative community of intellectual explorers," you have big hints. (Duke is pretty open.)

    Think about that keyword, "collaborative."
    edited December 2019
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23655 replies17 threads Senior Member
    If you (and he) didn't want accommodations, that's fine but you can't then 'explain' his low scores or that he could have achieved higher scores with more time. The scores are objective, and that's that.

    My kids also could have done better with more time. We moved a few times in middle/high school and they didn't have the accommodations they probably should have had. Too late to do anything about it.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35105 replies398 threads Senior Member
    The GC can talk about how great he is, his triumphs, despite no accommodations. That matters, that endorsement. Not just having the plan in place.

    What major? A few ECs related? If this is stem, "collaborative " applies.
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  • wisteria100wisteria100 4308 replies48 threads Senior Member
    Has your S sent his scores already? If so, no worries. But if he has not, just send the SAT score.
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  • AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Twoinanddone - I was only "explaining" what brought down his ACT score. We're not making excuses. I know it;s a lot lower than the typical ACT score for Duke applicants, but it is what it is. He's going to try again next week, but I honestly don;t think we;ll see much of an improvement, if any at all. Our thought process is that in the real world, he won't have, or shouldn't have accommodations in a job, so he might as well compete on an even playing field. He had accommodations in classes through 8th grade, but starting in high school took classes with everyone else with no accommodations. I know he can do it. He;s ranking 11 out of 760 students and his mid year score is looking like he'll be getting 5 A+ and 3 A grades.
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  • AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
    He is looking for STEM, but not engineering. He hopes to be a research scientist. His ECs are STEM related and collaborative. 3 out of 4 ECs are collaborative in nature. Two are strong leadership and one involves working in a research lab. The fourth is a community service project, but he's part of a team, not the leader.
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  • AppedOutAppedOut 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Wisteria, he hasn't sent them yet, but will be once he gets next week's ACT scores back. Duke said the recommend sending subject tests or ACT if using the SAT score. He asked his GC if he should just send the SAT scores, but she advised that "recommended" is Duke's key word for send them.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29875 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Forget the ACT. SAT is fine. Did he get provisions for that? He should have taken the provisions because you get nothing for foregoing them. Your scores are as they stand. No break for issues unless they are over come.

    First generation is big at Duke , more so than at most other schools so make sure Admissions knows. It is a hook. ED would have been too.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35105 replies398 threads Senior Member
    The SAT2 scores are good enough not to exclude. You already understand he's reaching.

    If it's his favorite, go ahead and apply. In the long run, it could be a shame not to. This isn't like many kids who just crapshoot a number of uber reaches.
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  • mommyimpmommyimp 16 replies4 threads Junior Member
    You mention that you did not apply Ed because you wanted to see other financial aid offers. We found that Duke was not as generous as other top schools even though they promise to meet full need. Have you run the net price calculator for duke? I ask this because several years ago my son, who had stats higher than your son but also needed financial aid, was very disappointed with duke aid. They promise to meet full need but
    their Cost was about $5,000 more than other top schools and, in addition, they also included a loan in the financial aid package.

    Depending how much financial aid you need, you might find other schools offer more. Would your son be okay with getting accepted and then not attending because another school had a better aid offer?
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2529 replies3 threads Senior Member
    He's as strong as any applicant for Duke, but unfortunately, for college with a 10% admissions rate, that's not saying much. With these hyper-selective schools, it's virtually impossible to stand out. After a certain point, all the applications look identical. It becomes more a lottery than a competition. All you can do is hope for the best...assuming you can afford it.
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