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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)

Essential Components for College Essays?

Okay, so I’ve heard different things and I’m a bit confused. What are the must-have elements I should include in my college essay? Like, should I always have a hook, or is it more important to focus on the depth of content? What do you guys think admissions officers are really looking for?

8 months ago

It's great that you're putting thought into this, as the college essay can really help you stand out in the application process. Admissions officers are seeking a glimpse into who you are beyond your grades and test scores. A memorable hook can certainly grab their attention, but it's the substance of the essay that sustains their interest. The elements you'll definitely want to include are:

1. A strong opening to pique curiosity.

2. A clear theme or focus that sheds light on your unique personality, experiences, or perspective.

3. Authenticity—your genuine voice and truths are your greatest strengths here.

4. Personal growth or a lesson learned, as colleges want to see you've reflected on your experiences.

5. A conclusion that ties back to your opening and leaves a lasting impression.

For example, if you're writing about a challenge you've overcome, starting with a moment that epitomizes that challenge can act as your 'hook'. Your reflection on how you dealt with it, and what you've learned provides depth. Always prioritize genuine storytelling over trying to impress. End by connecting the dots back to the introduction, perhaps with a realization you had that signifies growth.

Ultimately, the best essays are those that can only be written by you, about your authentic experiences, and in your own voice. Balance is key; grab their attention, but make sure you have substantial content to keep it.

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.