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


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Things to avoid in a college essay: What do you wish you knew?

I'm brainstorming for my essays and keep wondering if there are some major no-no's that I should avoid. Did anyone get feedback or advice on what not to do in a college essay that you wish you'd known before?

8 months ago

Hello there! Your question is spot-on for the early stages of essay writing. There are definitely some key things you'd want to steer clear of. Firstly, avoid clichés like the narrative of the 'big game' or 'life-changing' volunteer trip unless you have a truly unique angle. Stories that are overly common can seem insincere.

Another common mistake is trying to impress with big words or complex sentences. Simple and clear language shows confidence in your message and respects the reader's time. Also, steer away from controversial topics unless you can be very thoughtful and balanced; remember, the goal is to showcase your intellect and character, not just provoke.

Lastly, don't make your essay a résumé. The admissions team already has your list of accomplishments; your essay should show them who you are beyond your grades and scores. As an example, a story about learning to appreciate the art of making tea from your grandmother would be a simple, personal story, yet it can reveal your cultural connections and thoughtful personality. Best of luck with your essays, and remember, your authentic voice is the most powerful tool you have!

8 months ago

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