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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)

Opening My College Essay: What to Avoid?

I’ve heard tons of advice on what I should do to start my college essay, but what about things I should avoid? I want to grab the admissions officers’ attention but not for the wrong reasons. Any tips on what NOT to do when I begin my essay?

8 months ago

Steering clear of clichés is crucial. Admissions officers read thousands of essays, and starting with overused openings like "I've always wanted to be a..." or dramatic tales that lack authenticity can be tiresome. Also, avoid controversial topics that may polarize readers unless you're confident it's central to your personal story and you handle it with grace and thoughtfulness. Another no-go is starting with a quotation that's not directly linked to your narrative; it's your voice they want to hear, not someone else's. Be wary of trying too hard to be funny or quirky if it doesn't come naturally to you, as this can backfire. Using gimmicks like writing in a stream-of-consciousness style or submitting a poem for a traditional essay prompt might stand out, but not always positively unless executed exceptionally well. Illustrative of this is an essay that begins with a shock value statement. While it can grab attention, it must be tastefully done and quickly connected to a meaningful aspect of your life, or else it reads as a cheap hook.

8 months ago

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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.