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3 Helpful Tips for Writing the Duke Essays

This article is a first-person account from Robert Crystal, a Yale student and CollegeVine livestreamer and contributor. You can watch the full livestream for more info.

 

What’s Covered:

 

 

Keep the following three tips in mind as you draft your responses to the application essay prompts for Duke University. These best practices will help you optimize your time and focus your efforts. You can also use these techniques when you’re writing essays for other schools.

 

Duke University has one required essay and a set of optional essays where you can choose to respond to (at most) two of several prompts. It is important to write strong essays for your application to Duke because it is a highly competitive school with many qualified applicants applying each year. For more information, read this comprehensive guide on how to write the application essays for Duke University

 

Give Yourself Time

 

It may seem simple and straightforward to write a 250-word essay, but the limited word count is actually deceptive. You mudy write an essay that is as specific, impactful, and compelling as your personal statement, but with the smaller word count, you need to be succinct and intentional. 

 

Consequently, plan to give yourself ample time to figure out what you want to say and how to say it in as few words as possible. This will require multiple rounds of revising what you have written and taking the time to let ideas percolate by stepping away and returning with a fresh perspective. 

 

Be Specific

 

Be as specific as you possibly can. You are writing essays about yourself, your perspective, your experiences, and your background, and you are the expert on you. Use anecdotes drawn from your own life as a way to demonstrate the interests, core values, and aspirations that you talk about in your essay. Your goal is to write something so specific and unmistakably you that even someone who knows you casually would be able to identify your voice just by reading what you have written.

 

Moreover, it is important to be specific about Duke. Your essays should connect moments from your past and present to your potential future as a member of the campus community. Your responses to each prompt should convey that you share the values of respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence with the university. Highly selective schools like Duke want to know that you are interested in attending them not just for their prestige but also for their culture and community.  

 

Be True to Yourself

 

Ultimately, the purpose of any personal statement or supplemental essay is to express and present yourself using your own words. When you read someone else’s essays, it is easy to tell when they love what they are doing and when they are unmistakably themselves. Conversely, you can also tell when someone is writing what they think is a desirable college essay to please their audience of admissions officers. No one, especially not an admissions officer, wants to read what you think sounds impressive. This is why you should strive to be honest, authentic, and true to yourself by only writing about what matters most to you.


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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.