Author: Rebecca Shapiro

What I Would Have Done Differently During My College Search

The college search is a daunting process. It can feel like looking for buried treasure without a treasure map. Sure, you can scan U.S. News and World Report’s Top 50 Schools, or spend hours scrolling through College Confidential conversations, but are those really the best ways to determine which college is right for you? Here are 8 things I wish I’d done during my college search to help answer that question for myself.

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Building Connections: My Experience With Project Build

Here’s a conversation I’ve had a lot:

Other Person: “Did you do a pre-orientation program?”

Me: “Yeah, I did Project BUILD.”

Other Person: “Oh, cool. So you, like, build stuff?”

Me: “Um, no. Not really.”

Other Person: “…Oh. So what is it then?”

First of all, it’s a misnomer. Project BUILD is a week-long pre-orientation program at Duke University, though the concept is not unique to Duke. Pre-orientation programs exist at many schools as opportunities for incoming freshmen to get to know each other, get to know campus, and get to know life without daily parental oversight.

At Duke, our programs are either one or two weeks long. They all involve teamwork and upperclassmen leadership. They all have official names starting with “Project.” Project Waves is a week at the beach. Project Wild is two weeks in the wilderness. Project BUILD? Less intuitive.

The trick lies in the word BUILD, which really isn’t a word at all but is instead a rather clumsy acronym for “Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham.” Not sure what that means? Neither was I.

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