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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)

What makes a great personal college essay?

I'm starting to think about my college applications and I know the personal essay is super important. Can anyone share tips or advice on what I should include in my personal essay to make it stand out?

7 months ago

A great personal college essay is one that is unique, engaging, and truly represents who you are. To make your essay stand out, consider the following tips:

1. Choose a compelling topic: Focus on a specific, personal experience that has influenced your perspective, values, or goals. Avoid cliches such as sports victories or overcoming adversity; think of a memory or anecdote that captures your true self. For example, reflect on a moment when you learned a life lesson, experienced personal growth, or illustrated a passion.

2. Be genuine and authentic: Admissions officers read countless essays, so it's essential to stay true to yourself. Present your story honestly, without trying to impress or exaggerate. They want to get to know the real you, not a fabricated version of yourself.

3. Show, don’t tell: Use descriptive and precise language to illustrate your experiences, emotions, and insights. Rather than simply stating what happened or how you felt, provide vivid details and examples that draw the reader in and evoke a strong mental image.

4. Develop a clear narrative arc: Structure your essay in a way that builds tension, introduces a conflict, and ultimately reaches a resolution. This keeps the reader engaged and invested in your story. Additionally, make sure the narrative is organized and flows smoothly, with each paragraph connecting logically to the next.

5. Be reflective and introspective: Demonstrate self-awareness and critical thinking about your experiences. Consider how they've shaped your character and values, and relate the experience to your future college life or career aspirations. The focus should be on your personal growth and insights gained from the experience.

6. Revise and edit thoroughly: The first draft is only the beginning. Take the time to revise your essay multiple times, tightening the language, fixing inconsistencies, and improving overall flow. Get feedback from trusted sources, such as teachers, counselors, or family members, to refine your essay even further.

7. Start strong and end strong: Your essay's opening and closing should be memorable and impactful. Hook the reader with a gripping introduction, and leave a lasting impression by conclusively tying your experience back to how it has shaped you and your aspirations for the future.

Remember that there's no one-size-fits-all formula for a great personal essay. The most powerful essays are those that effectively convey your unique story, showcase your authentic voice, and demonstrate the growth you've experienced as a result of your experiences.

7 months ago

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