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What Is the Duke High School Pre-College Program? Should You Do It?


After canceling their summer residential programs in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, Duke has officially announced that they’ve permanently canceled the Duke TIP program. Instead, they’ve replaced it with the new Duke high school pre-college program for high school students!

With all the changes to the Duke TIP program, there’s a lot to know about how Duke’s Pre-College programs have (and haven’t!) changed. We’ll go over everything you need to know, including: 

  • The differences between the new Duke Pre-College Programs and the Duke TIP
  • Things to consider if you’re thinking about participating in Duke’s Pre-College Programs for high schoolers 
  • The details of the Duke Pre-College Program for 2022, including how to apply 
  • Tips for creating an awesome Pre-College Program application 

If you’re interested in taking part in one of Duke’s pre-college programs, read on to find out everything you need to know about the new system!





The New Duke High School Pre-College Program vs. the Old Duke TIP Program

Formerly known as the Duke TIP program, Duke pre-college programs have gone through a major overhaul.

Duke summer programs (residential or not) used to require participation in TIP–also known as the Talent Identification Program. This program was established in 1980 to identify academically gifted middle school students. Through TIP’s 7th Grade Talent Search, students were signed up to take the Pre-SAT or SAT. The goal of the TIP was to help students prepare for college by giving them experience with the testing process. The other was to offer academic enrichment programs to the highest scorers all the way through high school.

Unfortunately, Duke discontinued the TIP in 2021, and their pre-college programs are taking the TIP’s place. To help you understand how the two programs compare, we’ll go over the differences and similarities below. 


Differences Between the Duke TIP and the Duke Pre-College Program 

Previously, Duke pre-college programs were all part of the TIP program. Now all of the Duke summer programs for middle and high school students are housed in their Continuing Studies department and have been rebranded as the Duke Pre-College Middle School Program and the Duke Pre-College High School Program, respectively. 

An even bigger change has to do with standardized testing. Unlike the TIP, Duke is no longer using standardized test scores to identify “talent” for its pre-college programs. This means that taking part in one of the Duke pre-college summer programs is no longer dependent on how high you score on the Pre-SAT, SAT or ACT. 

Finally, Duke summer programs for high school students are now open to anyone currently in grades 9 through 11. You don’t have to have taken part in TIP back when you were in 7th grade to apply, either! 


Similarities Between the Duke TIP and the Duke Pre-College Program 

While they may not be using standardized test scores to select students anymore, Duke pre-college programs are still designed for talented and dedicated students. When the program was still TIP, Duke identified students as “talented” based on their standardized test scores. But according to their December 2021 press release, Duke has said that they are “eager to expand [their] definition of ‘talented’ to maximize access to [their] signature academic rigor and to strengthen [their] growing community.”

Duke isn’t super clear on how they’ll identify “talent” in the future, but as of now, the best thing you can do to show your talent is to send in an outstanding application!

Second, the goal of the Duke high school pre-college program is still to provide challenging coursework that allows students to continue exploring their academic interests during the summer months. Same as before, the program is designed to prepare students for college and their future careers. The pre-college program’s coursework is more rigorous than what’s offered at most high schools, which lets students develop their skills beyond the norm.

Finally, the Duke pre-college summer program works basically the same way as it did before. Students choose a course (or courses) they’re interested in and are taught by Duke faculty. High school students can choose between residential, online, or hybrid courses, some of which even earn college credit! 




Why Take Part in a Duke Pre-College Summer Program?

There are plenty of reasons why high school students have been taking part in Duke’s pre-college programs for years. Mainly, students attend to get a jump-start on college prep, or to learn more about a subject they’re interested in.

But if you're still on the fence about whether or not to apply, here are some of the reasons you might want to apply. 


You’ll Work on Demonstrating Independence

Whether you choose to go for a residential program and experience campus life, you’ll have to work independently and stay self-motivated. These are both necessary skills once you get to college!


You’ll Be Intellectually Challenged

Duke summer programs involve one or more weeks of intensive learning in a subject of your choice. If you enjoy stepping out of your academic comfort zone and diving into topics you may not get a chance to explore in school, you’ll probably love this experience.


You’ll Develop a Network

Not only will you get to know teachers at Duke who may be able to write recommendation letters for you when it’s time to apply to college, you’ll also have the chance to make friends with students who share your academic interests! And while participating in a Duke Pre-College Program doesn’t guarantee admission to Duke, having great letters of recommendation can seriously boost your admission chances. 


You’ll Build Your Academic Resume

One way to impress colleges is to show them that you’re eager to learn, serious about your academics, and willing to put in the time and effort it takes to succeed. You can add your participation to the academic resume you’ll eventually send in with your college application to help it stand out from the crowd.  


You Want to Go to Duke for Your Undergrad Degree

Although attending one of Duke’s summer programs isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be admitted there as a full-time student, it is something they’ll take into consideration when you apply. Remember: colleges want to admit students who’ll be a good fit for their campus community. Participating in a pre-college program at Duke shows admissions counselors that you know already know what it means to be a Blue Devil.




The 2022 Duke Pre-College High School Program

In 2022, high school students have an array of programs to choose from. Academic enrichment courses in the following subjects are offered in either residential, fully online, or hybrid formats:

Topics and classes within each subject area vary from year to year. In 2022, topics include “Engineering Solutions for Global Health” (Engineering), “Media Literacy and Identity” (Humanities), “Space Medicine” (Science), and “Digital Music Making” (Technology), just to name a few. These courses won’t net you actual college credit hours, but they can give you valuable learning experiences.

One quick note about Personal Finance courses: this topic is formatted as a four-week course designed to help students handle their money responsibly once they get to college. Unfortunately, the application deadline for this course is earlier than the other programs. Be sure to plan ahead if you want to take a personal finance pre-college course at Duke! \


Duke Pre-College Program Dates 

Depending on which topic you want to explore, you’ll attend one of the following sessions:

  • High School Session 1 (June 13th-June 24th, 2022)
  • High School Session 2 (June 20th-July 1st, 2022)
  • High School Session 3 (July 3rd-July 15th, 2022)
  • High School Session 4 (July 17th-July 29th, 2022)
  • High School Online Session (July 18th-July 29th, 2022)

Sessions 1 and 2 are offered as hybrid programs. That means you’ll spend one week at home doing both synchronous and asynchronous online learning, and one week living on campus. 

Sessions 3 and 4 are entirely in-person and on campus, so you’ll be fully immersed in college life. 

The last session is only offered online, so if you’re okay with staying home (and spending a bit less money), that one could be a good option. 


Duke Pre-College Program Special Sessions

There are also two other special programming options this summer:

  • Duke Pre-College’s Labs and Expert Panels week (June 19th-June 24th, 2022
  • The Duke Summer Session (June 27th-August 7th, 2022)

Labs and Expert Panels Week is a residential program to introduce students to—you guessed it!—explore Duke’s labs/research facilities and meet the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) experts. 

The Duke Summer Session is for rising 11th and 12th graders to take courses for college credit. Courses offered fulfill typical gen ed requirements in a variety of subject areas, such as history, philosophy, writing, calculus, and anthropology. If you live close enough to campus to commute, you can attend in-person. If not, you can choose to take your courses online. 




How to Apply to Duke Pre-College Programs for High School Students 

The good news is that you don’t have to take the SAT or ACT before you apply anymore. But you’ll still have to submit an application! We’ll walk you through the application process below. 


Step 1: Fill Out the Online Application for Your Specific Class

From the Duke Pre-College High School Program main page, click on the subject area you’re interested in (such as Engineering or Social Science) from the drop-down menu on the left. This will take you to a list of the specific course topics offered in that subject. 

From there, click on the topic you want to study (Engineering Solutions for Global Health), and you’ll see an “Apply Now” button in the upper right of your screen. Clicking that will take you to the appropriate application.

Make sure you’re filling out the right application for your program! Duke also offers pre-college programs for middle schools students, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not getting the applications mixed up accidentally. 


Step 2: Upload Your Middle School or High School Transcript

If you’re going to be a high school freshman next year, you should submit your middle school transcript. Otherwise, you’ll submit your high school transcript as part of the application process. Unofficial transcripts are accepted, too! 


Step 3: Submit Your English Proficiency Information

This part is for international students whose first language is something other than English. If this applies to you, you’ll need to submit your TOEFL or IELTS test scores. The minimum score if you took TOEFL is 90, and 7.0 for IELTS.


Step 4: Upload a Personal Statement

This statement should be at least three paragraphs long, and describe why you are “uniquely qualified and interested in the course for which you are applying.” If you’re not sure how to write a personal statement, that’s okay! We have a complete tutorial on how to write an amazing personal statement on the PrepScholar blog. 


Step 5: Upload Your Resume

This resume should highlight your academic and non-academic experiences that demonstrate why you would be a good candidate for the program. We can show you how to put together a great resume, too. 


Step 6: Pay the Application Fee

It does cost money to apply to the Duke Pre-College Program, and that fee is non-refundable. That means you won’t get your money back if you aren’t admitted. In 2022, the application fee is $75. 

There is good news, though: If you’re applying to more than one session/course, you only have to pay this fee once.


Step 7: Wait for Duke’s Decision

Once Duke receives all of your application materials, they’ll contact you with a decision within two weeks. If you’re accepted to the program, you’ll just need to pay the program fee and get ready to attend! You can find a list of program fees on Duke’s website. 




3 Tips for a Stellar Application

Since selection criteria for the Duke Pre-College Programs isn’t based on test scores anymore, making yourself stand out is all about creating excellent application materials. Below are our top three tips to maximize your chances of being admitted to one of these selective programs.


Tip 1: Apply as Early as Possible

Duke accepts applications for their summer programs on a rolling basis. That means that they’ll start accepting students as soon as the application period opens. They’ll continue to accept students until the application period closes, or until the program spots fill up–whichever comes first. 

Because spots are limited and may fill up quickly, you have the best chance of getting chosen if you send in your application early!


Tip 2: Craft a Well-Tailored Resume

Even though you’re applying for an academic program and not a job, your resume still serves the same basic function: it helps Duke learn more about you and your qualifications. 

You’ll want to include challenging classes that you’ve taken in or out of high school, as well as extracurriculars that you’ve participated in. Be sure to really highlight things that show how qualified you are to take a specific class. For example, if you’re applying to one of their Engineering courses, focus on including math and science courses you’ve taken, projects you’ve worked on in and out of class, and any clubs you’re involved in that involve engineering, such as a Robotics club.

Your resume should be free of grammatical errors, well-organized, and full of only the best possible details. That means you want to start the resume writing process early. You’ll definitely need time to edit! 


Tip 3: Make Your Personal Statement Count

Your personal statement is your chance to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Lots of students get good grades and take challenging classes, so this statement is going to be the primary way that Duke will know whether or not you’re a good candidate for their program. They want to know why you’re qualified to participate and why you’re interested in attending.

Basically, you want to make sure your statement demonstrates your strengths as a student and provides lots of specific details and anecdotes to prove it! And be sure that you talk about why you’re especially interested in (and qualified for) the specific class you want to take. 

Finally, avoid the temptation to just write one draft of your personal statement and send it out immediately. Take your time, and edit carefully. The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone. Ask a trusted teacher, counselor, or advisor (or even a parent or family member) to read through your statement and provide feedback on how you can make it even better. 

Taking the time to really hone your writing shows that you’re a serious student who’s ready for the opportunities Duke’s programs provide. 




What’s Next?

Learning to write a great resume is important, especially since you’ll submit resumes as part of your college applications. Our five expert tips on writing an academic resume will help you put together a great document. 

If you’re not sure what a great academic resume looks like, don’t worry. You can read through four successful academic resume examples here. 

Once you have your resume finished, it’s time to move on to writing your personal statement. Here’s an explanation of everything you need to know about personal statements so you can write one that shines.



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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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