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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)

Anyone have advice on writing a stellar Common App essay?

Hey everyone! I'm starting to work on my Common App essay and I'd love some tips, techniques, or even sample essays if possible. How do I make sure I stand out and leave a lasting impression on the admissions officers?

6 months ago

Hello! Great to see that you're getting started on your Common App essay. Writing a memorable essay is an important part of the college application process. Here are some tips to help you create a standout essay:

1. Choose an engaging topic: Select a topic that genuinely interests you and is unique to your experiences. Avoid cliché topics like sports victories/injuries, moving schools, or immigration stories. Instead, focus on a specific moment or event that had a significant impact on your life and allows you to demonstrate your personality, values, or growth.

2. Tell a story: Instead of just listing your achievements or experiences, use storytelling techniques to immerse the reader in your world – include vivid details, dialogue, and emotions. This makes your essay memorable and helps the admissions officers get a sense of who you really are.

3. Show, don't tell: Use descriptive language and concrete examples to illustrate your points. This is more powerful than simply stating your feelings or opinions. For example, instead of saying "I am passionate about helping others," describe a specific instance where you volunteered and made a meaningful impact on someone's life.

4. Be yourself: Write in your own voice and stay true to your personal experiences. Admissions officers read countless essays, and they can tell when a student is trying too hard to impress them or is using someone else's words. Be genuine and focus on what makes you unique.

5. Revise and edit: After writing your initial draft, take a break and revisit it with fresh eyes. Revise your essay multiple times to ensure clarity, conciseness, and proper grammar. Ask for feedback from teachers, counselors, or friends, but remember that ultimately, the essay should still reflect your own voice.

6. Limit the use of clichés and generalizations: Try to avoid overused phrases and sweeping statements. Instead, provide specific details and anecdotes that make your essay authentic and relatable.

An example of a strong essay might be one where a student writes about a unique family tradition and how it has shaped their character. They could describe the tradition, why it was important to them, and how it taught them valuable lessons about their culture and personal values.

Remember, the key to a stellar Common App essay is making it personal, engaging, and authentic. Best of luck with your essay!

6 months ago

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