What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

My Common Application Essay ― A Real Student’s Story

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered



The Topic of My Essay


I wrote my Common Application essay over the summer after my junior year when I was selected to be part of the leadership program called Four Star Leadership. This was a fully funded program hosted by General Tommy Franks that was held in Oklahoma for one week with 50 students from all across the United States. One student from each of the 50 states was selected to participate in leadership activities like debate and speech competitions. 


The Four Star Leadership program offered coaching from professionals and was an incredible experience overall, but I wrote my essay on the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which we spent a day touring as a group to learn about the history of the tragic Oklahoma City bombing. 


The Content of My Essay


The topic you write about will show the admissions officer who you are, so make sure to pick a topic or moment in time that accurately represents you. Visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial was one event that had a profound effect on my life. My group was led by a tour guide to a room filled with the personal belongings of people that had passed away in the bombing. I remember how we all stood in pure silence trying to process what we were looking at. There were teddy bears, backpacks, and notebooks. None of us were alive when this bombing happened, but being in the presence of all those personal items impacted me in a way I didn’t think was possible.


I was so appreciative of the opportunity to be in that moment with everyone in the program, so I chose to write about the emotions I experienced that day. Despite our different backgrounds, we were all able to understand why a moment of silence was necessary to honor the people who had passed away.  


How I Wrote My Essay


I wanted to share with other people what I had learned through my experience and what I hoped to take away moving forward. This was a very heavy topic to write about, but I knew I wanted to include it in my Common Application essay. I started writing the essay right after I arrived home from Oklahoma.


There was no deadline or purpose when I started writing the essay, so I made sure to take my time with it and personalize my words. It took me a few months to put all my thoughts on paper and articulate it in the way I wanted, so I am glad I started early. There is nothing worse for creativity than a tight deadline. My advice would be to start as soon as possible to allow yourself time to explore different ways of writing your thoughts. If you experience an event in high school that is particularly impactful, start writing while the emotions and passions are fresh. This will make finishing and submitting your college applications less stressful.

Short Bio
At CollegeVine, experts host weekly livestreams on college admissions topics, including application advice, essay writing tips, and college information sessions. To register or check out more livestreams, visit www.collegevine.com/livestreams.