Advising Information

What if the student is unsure of his/her major interests?

An advisor can highlight the Focus Program as an opportunity for exploration of varied interests. FOCUS students fulfill general curriculum requirements early in their Duke career, regardless of their major.

What if the student is placed in a cluster in which she/he has expressed only moderate interest?

The Focus Program, regardless of cluster, is very successful in teaching students the skills they need to do well while at Duke University. FOCUS students generally go on to out perform their peers in many ways. An advisor can reassure the student that participation in the Focus Program will help her/him master key academic skills which result in better scholarship throughout a Duke career.

Are FOCUS students behind when they finish the program?

Participation in the Focus Program does not put a student behind in their course-work. Over the 20-year history of the Focus Program, we have found that 99% of our students go on to complete their degree in four years, usually doing so with academic honors. In addition to the Focus Program, our students participate in study abroad programs, DukeEngage, independent research, and pre-professional tracks of study while completing work toward a major, minor and/or a certificate program.

What if the student wants to get a head start on his/her major?

FOCUS students are able to view a single issue from multiple perspectives, which is especially fun if the topic fits within their major. We have several clusters that serve as gateways into majors or certificate programs. Although many students arrive at Duke University with a pre-determined major, we have found that a large number of first-year students change their mind after one to two semesters of course work. The first and second years at Duke are critical times of exploration. We encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity for a broad, liberal education and fulfill general curriculum requirements while they make a successful transition to college.

Do all students participate in the Focus Program?

No, the Focus Program is not for everyone. First, we only accept approximately 25% of the incoming first-year class. Second, the program can be reading, writing and research intensive. Finally, other students may be interested in exploring their options for a major by taking a wide range of self-selected courses. Biomedical engineering students will find it difficult to fit the Focus Program into their schedules unless they arrive on campus with significant advanced placement (AP) credit.

What if my student is interested in pre-health education?

The Office of Health Professions Advising has great resources for pre-health students. You and your student can learn more about course options on the HPA web site.

What are the most common electives for FOCUS students?

Reflecting the interests of the larger class population, first-year students tend to select courses in Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, or Languages as their elective.

Additional help with advising your FOCUS student can be obtained by contacting the Academic Advising Center.