What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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UCLA
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
1.0
4.0
SAT: 720 math
200
800
| 800 verbal
200
800

Extracurriculars

Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Creating a unique college essay – what's your secret?

I’ve heard a million times that essays should be unique, but what does that actually mean? How can I tell a story that’s different, especially on common topics like family, challenges, or school life that everyone writes about? What's your secret to avoiding clichés and being original?

8 months ago

Understanding that each student has a different background and set of experiences, I encourage my students to reflect deeply on their personal journey to identify a moment or aspect that really defines who they are. To avoid clichés, it's about going beyond the surface level of 'challenging experiences' and instead focusing on the nuances of that experience and what it taught you about yourself or the world around you. For instance, instead of writing broadly about the challenge of moving to a new school, zoom in on a specific incident that happened during that transition and how it changed your perspective. By honing in on a particular story or a seemingly minor detail that had a major impact on you, your essay naturally becomes more unique. Also, play with different writing styles or structures – perhaps framing your essay with a twist on a common saying that you've proved wrong or right in your life. Reflecting on feedback from teachers, peers, and if possible, someone who doesn't know you as well, can also help you gauge the originality and impact of your story. Keep iterating until your essay feels authentic to you and stands out as a piece that only you could write. Remember, the piece of your life that feels ordinary to you might be the exact story that captures an admissions officer's attention.

8 months ago

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