What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Citing Sources in College Essays: When and How?

In our school papers, we need to cite sources to avoid plagiarism, but I'm not sure how that works in college essays. If I refer to a work of literature or a historical event, should I include citations? If so, how do you properly cite sources within the context of a personal essay?

8 months ago

Hello there! Great question! Yes, in academic writing, citing sources is an absolute must to avoid plagiarism and to give proper credit to original ideas. However, the personal essay portion of college applications is quite different. It’s all about your personal experiences, views, and aspirations. Typically, you don't need to cite sources as you would in a research paper.

If you mention a work of literature or a historical event, it's usually because it has personal significance to your life or aspirations. In those cases, you can simply reference the work or event naturally as part of your narrative. For example, if discussing the impact of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' on your worldview, just mentioning the book and its influence on you is sufficient, without needing a formal citation as you would in an academic paper.

However, if your essay takes on a more academic tone and you include specific quotes or data, then it’s advisable to briefly credit the source, maybe in parentheses. Just remember that the admissions essay is more about your story and reflections than scholastic formality. Good luck with your essay!

8 months ago

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.