Pre-orientation programs remain a popular choice for incoming freshmen.
This year, Duke’s signature pre-orientation programs received more applicants than they have in any of the past five years. According to data provided by the Office of New Student Programs, 28 percent of incoming freshmen—478 students—applied to pre-orientation programs.
The number marks a new high, with 29 more students than last year. Senior Bryce Wolery, program director for Project WILD, noted that many freshmen enjoy forming a community within their program prior to Orientation Week.
"Coming to college, these students are facing a huge change in setting up a support system so that they realize ‘hey you’re not the only one going through that,'" he said. "You just get to spend time with smaller groups of people that you can relate to.”
Although this year saw a slight jump in applicants, the number of applications has fluctuated during the past five years—with lows of 424 applications in 2011, 426 applications in 2013 and a previous high of 462 applications in 2012.
Senior Bennett Hartley, one of the program directors for Project Waves, said the programs have remained popular because of the bonding experiences they provide.
“If you’re coming into Duke, you most likely don’t know many people and you’re probably not from around this area, so it’s a very vulnerable stage," he said. “This program really allows everyone to come together and create this incredible unity.”
Junior Noor Tasnim, program director for Project Build, further explained that the programs provide students with a support group before school even starts.
“The transition to Duke has been daunting for many of us, but having a group of students to support you before classes start can make a huge difference in your Duke experience," he wrote in an email.
Some programs are consistently the most popular, according to University data. Project Waves has remained the most popular program for the past five years, having at least 59 percent of applicants each year select it as one of their top three choices.
This year, however, the Project Waves application numbers spiked, with 390 applicants, or 82 percent, selecting it as at least one of their top three choices.
Project WILD has remained the second most popular program over the past five years, with Project BUILD program in third place. In 2015, 268 students, or 56 percent, applied to P-WILD as one of their three choices, and 306 students, or 64 percent, applied to P-BUILD. Each of these programs selects 80 students.
The University is attempting to enhance the pre-orientation program experience by partnering with other groups on campus, as well as crafting follow-ups during the year, noted Jordan Hale, director of new student programs.
“While we are lead advisors for the programs, we realized that there are other people on campus who are better content experts, so we have teamed up with other offices," Hale explained.
Hale also noted that the University has expanded its program offerings in recent years.
Project Arts, which started last year, received 100 applications this year as one of students' top three choices, up from 35 in its first year.
“We thought it was a really cool piece that we could add in to serve a population of students whose voices deserved to be heard as well,” Hale said.
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