How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

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JD2022hopeful

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How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby JD2022hopeful » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:04 pm

Hey everyone! My Duke PT application went complete on 10/11 and I was fairly confident that I'll get in based on my stats (172/3.74) alone. After reading through TLS and Reddit, however, I am now a lot less confident in my chances because I didn't write a Why Duke. I don't think my numbers are good enough for YP, and my personal statement talks about why I want to study international law but doesn't make any mention of Duke specifically. I have average softs and I'm a year out of undergrad.

Do you think I'm going to get waitlisted just because I didn't write a Why Duke? I just didn't think I could add anything special about the school, and now I'm on day 6 and freaking out haha

sash

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby sash » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:43 pm

did you get a response back?

sparkytrainer

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby sparkytrainer » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:57 pm

It’s extremely necessary. Kids exactly in your spot numbers wise routinely get denied, not even waitlisted, purely because they did not write a why duke. Duke has one of the smaller class sizes in the t13. It matters. Applicants last year went up 22% at duke law. A why duke certainly helps and the Adcom is on record saying that applications without it are looked at differently than ones with a why duke.

QContinuum

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby QContinuum » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:11 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:It’s extremely necessary. Kids exactly in your spot numbers wise routinely get denied, not even waitlisted, purely because they did not write a why duke. Duke has one of the smaller class sizes in the t13. It matters. Applicants last year went up 22% at duke law. A why duke certainly helps and the Adcom is on record saying that applications without it are looked at differently than ones with a why duke.


I certainly agree that YP is a thing, but from the data, OP doesn't appear to be at particular risk of it at Duke:
Image
We see likely YP at Penn, but not at Duke.

OP can certainly follow up with the admissions office to add a Why Duke - short of harassment, it never hurts to demonstrate additional interest. But I don't think OP's doomed without one. And I think a bad Why Duke may be worse than having no Why Duke at all.

Also moved this thread to What are my chances, which is really a more suitable board for this kind of question.

BlackAndOrange84

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:50 pm

I got WL'd at Duke with stats not far off from yours after not writing a "Why Duke." I got an offer after being invited for an interview. They may well do the same to you.

I think Sparky, while definitely hyperbolic, is closer to the truth here. The why Duke essay matters more to the Duke adcomm than these kind of statements matter at most schools. I think their attitude is that if they can make the class they want to without dipping too far into people who chose not to write the essay, they'll do it. I think that's part of why they (at least in the past) offer interviews to some people they waitlist (or "priority reserve," whatever). They'd like to evaluate how much you want to be at Duke vs a generic desire to be at a T13 school. Also, given that it's in the South, not in a big city, and doesn't have a truly major city closer than DC (five hours away), I think they want to avoid offering people who may be more likely to transfer out because of unhappiness with the setting.

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TheBlueDevil

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby TheBlueDevil » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:51 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, given that it's in the South, not in a big city, and doesn't have a truly major city closer than DC (five hours away), I think they want to avoid offering people who may be more likely to transfer out because of unhappiness with the setting.


Two points as a current Duke student:

First, Duke isn't that much of a southern school these days. It might technically be in the south and have a more southern focus than the other T14s, but Durham doesn't feel conventionally southern and a significant majority of the student body is from outside the south. Relatively few here are targeting southern markets, almost all want NY or DC. Even in NC, Duke can't guarantee placement without preexisting NC ties and good grades, although it might do better than the other T14s. So, don't feel the need to emphasize a southern connection/interest in your Why Duke.

Second, Durham is fairly nice. It's not NYC or Chicago, but it's not Ithaca, or even Charlottesville. There are plenty of restaurants and shops and things to do, especially if you like the outdoors. Decent diversity and relatively progressive. The cost of living is very low. The weather is comfortable most of the year. RDU has regular direct flights to much of the country. As a mid-sized city, you can find most of what you need when you need it. While I don't personally plan to spend my entire life here (though hundreds of thousands do), it's a perfectly pleasant place to spend three years in law school. I wouldn't put anything in your Why Duke about preferring small towns or rural environments or anything like that, because that just doesn't really describe Durham. The Triangle is mostly small- or mid- sized cities and suburbs.

ETA: Before coming to Duke, I had almost exclusively lived in major cities, and while Durham definitely isn't an upgrade, I have no real complaints.

BlackAndOrange84

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:14 pm

This is all true. Didn't intend and wouldn't want to suggest that the why duke essay should push Southern connection or interest. Just speculating about one thing the essay might be intended to suss out (not through its content though, but the fact that someone chooses to write it). Willingness to write out the essay is at least going to weakly correlate with openness to living in Durham rather than NYC/Boston/Chicago/DC/California. And there are people who aren't going to be open to it or, despite Durham's objective lack of objectionableness, will hate it (see for instance the NYC to 190k thread). Given the small class size, they don't have to take people who are more likely to be of that mindset.

TheBlueDevil wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:Also, given that it's in the South, not in a big city, and doesn't have a truly major city closer than DC (five hours away), I think they want to avoid offering people who may be more likely to transfer out because of unhappiness with the setting.


Two points as a current Duke student:

First, Duke isn't that much of a southern school these days. It might technically be in the south and have a more southern focus than the other T14s, but Durham doesn't feel conventionally southern and a significant majority of the student body is from outside the south. Relatively few here are targeting southern markets, almost all want NY or DC. Even in NC, Duke can't guarantee placement without preexisting NC ties and good grades, although it might do better than the other T14s. So, don't feel the need to emphasize a southern connection/interest in your Why Duke.

Second, Durham is fairly nice. It's not NYC or Chicago, but it's not Ithaca, or even Charlottesville. There are plenty of restaurants and shops and things to do, especially if you like the outdoors. Decent diversity and relatively progressive. The cost of living is very low. The weather is comfortable most of the year. RDU has regular direct flights to much of the country. As a mid-sized city, you can find most of what you need when you need it. While I don't personally plan to spend my entire life here (though hundreds of thousands do), it's a perfectly pleasant place to spend three years in law school. I wouldn't put anything in your Why Duke about preferring small towns or rural environments or anything like that, because that just doesn't really describe Durham. The Triangle is mostly small- or mid- sized cities and suburbs.

ETA: Before coming to Duke, I had almost exclusively lived in major cities, and while Durham definitely isn't an upgrade, I have no real complaints.

JD2022hopeful

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby JD2022hopeful » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:04 am

I was accepted this afternoon so I guess it didn't matter after all. Pretty pumped to get in, but not sure if I got lucky with my lack of a Why Duke or if the importance of writing one is overstated on these forums.

I definitely understand why it is important though, and I think that if I had higher numbers I may have gotten waitlisted for YP purposes. Thanks for all the replies though!

QContinuum

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Re: How necessary is a "Why Duke"?

Postby QContinuum » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:56 am

Congrats on your acceptance! Thrilled for you (though not too surprised given the LSN data I posted above).

I do think that the importance of Why X essays is sometimes overrated. I don't think they can ever hurt, assuming they're well-written, but in many cases, as the LSN data show, they aren't necessary for success.



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