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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
1.0
4.0
SAT: 720 math
200
800
| 800 verbal
200
800

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Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How do colleges perceive personal struggle narratives in essays?

Question for y’all – when writing application essays, I know personal struggles can be compelling, but do colleges get tired of 'sob stories,' or do they genuinely value these narratives? Just trying to avoid a cliché if it's overdone.

8 months ago

Colleges are very familiar with essays that delve into personal struggles. What they are looking for is authenticity and reflection. If your narrative about overcoming adversity demonstrates growth, resilience, and a strong personal character, it can indeed be compelling and serve your application well. However, it's crucial to move beyond simply describing the struggle; the focus should be on how it changed you, what you learned, and how it informs your future goals or academic interests. An example of this would be discussing how coping with a family illness led you to pursue interests in biomedical engineering. Remember, this essay is a unique opportunity to add depth and context to your application that grades and test scores can't convey. Just ensure that your story is genuinely personal to you and isn't told in a way that seems to be seeking sympathy. Instead, emphasize growth and aspiration, showing how your experiences have prepared you for the college experience and beyond.

8 months ago

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