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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Strategies for tackling Common App essay prompts?

Hey fellow juniors, I'm feeling pretty over my head here. How are you all approaching the Common App essay prompts? Any strategies for picking a prompt and brainstorming stories to tell? Would love to hear how others are managing this part.

7 months ago

Hey there! I totally understand that the Common App essay can feel like a huge task. My first piece off advice is don't worry about picking a prompt right away—while aligning your response with the prompt is crucial for narrower supplemental essays, the main Common App prompts are broad enough that it's totally fine to write your essay first and then find one that it fits with.

Instead, jot down stories from your life that you find meaningful and interesting, and reflect on how these experiences and moments have shaped you. These could be related to your passions, challenges you've faced, moments of growth, or unique experiences that have influenced your perspective.

Once you have a list, start sketching out how you would tell each story, and which qualities or characteristics you'd want to highlight in each one. As you do this brainstorming, consider using different mediums like free writing, bullet journals, or even voice memos—whatever works best to get your creative juices flowing. If you start to feel an especially strong connection to one, pay attention to that, as you should trust your gut!

Remember, your essay should offer a window into who you are, beyond your grades and test scores, so prioritize authenticity and your unique voice above all. And most importantly, give yourself plenty of time for revisions. Good writing often comes from rewriting, so allowing time to refine your essay can make a huge difference.

If you're not sure where to turn for help with revisions, consider checking out CollegeVine's free peer essay review service, or submitting your essay for a paid review by an expert college admissions advisor. Or, if you're having trouble getting started, you can go over some examples of excellent Common App essays, all written by real students, on CollegeVine's blog: https://blog.collegevine.com/common-app-essay-examples.

Best of luck writing!

7 months ago

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