For the Class of 2017, Duke admitted 9.9 percent of regular admissions applicants, the lowest acceptance rate in Duke’s history. There was also a record number of total applications this year—31,785.
Chronicle Graphic by Jisoo Yoon
For the Class of 2017, Duke admitted 9.9 percent of regular admissions applicants, the lowest acceptance rate in Duke’s history. There was also a record number of total applications this year—31,785.

The months of waiting are over for the 29,200 regular decision applicants who sought a place in Duke’s Class of 2017.

Wednesday afternoon, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions informed 2,897 applicants of their acceptance, making the regular decision acceptance rate 9.9 percent. This year was the most competitive admissions cycle to date, with several hundred more applications than last year, according to a Duke news release. Including early decision applicants, Duke received 31,785 applications.

“From what I’ve seen, this is the best class ever in some ways, but it’s still a class that we all recognize as very Duke,” said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education.

He noted that although the increased competition allowed the University to admit a class with better overall qualifications than in years past, the admissions office still strove to select a class of individuals who exhibit qualities that are quintessentially Duke, Nowicki said.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag also praised the class’s collective personality.

“This class seems to have a real sense of energy, of enthusiasm and engagement. There’s a liveliness and spirit that comes through in their applications,” Guttentag wrote in an email early Thursday morning. “People on campus are really going to like this class, as individuals and as a group.”

This year, more students than usual were admitted via binding early decision—44 percent of the Class of 2017 was accepted in December, as compared to 38 percent of both the Class of 2016 and Class of 2015. This change contributed to the competition for spaces among regular decision applicants.

“This is the first time our regular decision admit rate ended up below 10 percent, and it made for some difficult choices,” Guttentag said in the release. “The accomplishments and personal qualities of the students applying for admission are just exceptional, and as pleased as I am for what it means for Duke, I’m sorry that we don’t have room for more of these wonderful young women and men.”

Nowicki said that although administrators cannot predict with certainty the percentage of accepted students who will choose to matriculate, the increase in early decisions acceptances will increase the yield. He added that even though the admitted classes have grown stronger over the past few years, the yield has remained relatively steady—a trend he attributes to the fact that more and more applicants are extremely qualified and have many top colleges competing for their attention.

“I really don’t care how we compare to our competitors,” Nowicki said, referring to yield. “I care about admitting a great class of students with diverse interests and perspectives who will contribute to a vibrant, engaging learning environment.”

Admitted students were quick to express their excitement, flocking to the Official Duke University Admitted Class of 2017 group on Facebook and posting the news on websites such as College Confidential.

“I had been preparing to see a ‘We regret to inform you...’ letter and shrieked when I realized I was actually accepted,” Ilana Weisman of Boca Raton, Fla., wrote in an email. “Most of my evening was spent laughing and crying after that—and I’m incredibly excited and still somewhat dazed that I actually got in.”

Aiden Haney of Roswell, N.M., shared a similar story.

“I know it’s really cliche, but I cried,” she said. “I feel so proud to be able to say, ‘Yes, I got in to Duke.’”