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The Ultimate Guide to Acing the Duke University Supplemental Essays 2021/22

19 NOV 2021

Duke University received a record 41,600 applicants for their class of 2023. Clearly, it takes much more than an exceptional academic record to get into this prestigious school. Each part of your application must shine. Duke’s supplemental essays allow you to show the admissions team who you are and what qualities make you the perfect Duke university student.

How to Stand Out in Your Duke University Supplemental Essays for 2021

Considering the sheer number of applicants, you’ll want to use every aspect of your application to show your unique traits, abilities, accomplishments, and drive. The admissions committee is interested in understanding your thought process and personally getting to know you. Don’t be scared to show your vulnerability, humility, or candidness.

How Crimson Can Help You Stand Out

Crimson’s advisors take a personal approach to helping their students with their supplemental essays. By getting to know each student first, they can help them craft their essays based on their dreams, aspirations, goals, and any aspect of their story that’s unique.

Learn more about Crimson student Allie’s journey to Duke in the video below!

How Allie Got Into Duke University to study Political Science

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategist can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect essay prompt response. Get your essay reviewed today!

What are the Duke University Essay Prompts for 21/22?

Prompt 1

Please share with us why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular about Duke’s academic or other offerings that attract you? (200 words maximum)

Prompt 2

Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had that would help us understand you better, perhaps a community you belong to or your family or cultural background, we encourage you to do so here. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 words maximum)

How to Answer Prompt 1

Please share with us why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular about Duke’s academic or other offerings that attract you? (200 words maximum)

The first step is to identify your strongest passions. These could be experiences, hobbies, interests, academic pursuits, or anything you consider relevant to you and integral to your personal and academic development. Then, you’ll need to learn about Duke and identify an aspect (program, professor, research, community, etc.) unique to the school and relates to one of your passions. Lastly, you’ll need to draw the connection between the two and convince the reader that attending Duke will contribute to your growth and the Duke community.

If you need help identifying your passions, start with reflection. Who am I? What is important to me, and why? If you have difficulty with this, ask someone who knows you well what they think is important to you. It may help you identify something you didn’t notice before or realize something you thought was important was not important at all. Start with reflection and then consult other people.

Choose a passion you can support with evidence: an activity, event, project, etc. The evidence demonstrates the degree of passion you have for something. While there’s nothing wrong with exploring a potential new passion, Duke admissions will have a harder time believing you’ll actually realize this new passion.

To answer this question with authority, you’ll need to research everything about Duke. Duke’s website is a great place to start. It’s where you’ll find plenty of information about majors, academic programs, social life, clubs, and more. Get to know Duke’s values before picking a topic to tie to your passion. Choose an aspect of Duke that resonates with you and tie that to your previously stated passions/interests.

Be concrete with your writing.

  • What events would you like to run?
  • Which competitions interest you?
  • Which types of students would you want to connect with?

The Essay That Got Me Into Duke

How to Answer Prompt 2

Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had that would help us understand you better, perhaps a community you belong to or your family or cultural background, we encourage you to do so here. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 words maximum)

As evidenced by this prompt, Duke values diversity. When a reader finishes your essay, they should feel like they better understand you and your community. Be sure to write in your voice. Make sure it is grammatically correct, but if you have a strong sense of humor, don’t be afraid to show it. If you love literature, include quotations from your favorite books. Aside from content, the reader can learn a lot about you just from the way you write.

Think About Your Life Experiences

Think first and foremost about your most meaningful life experiences, not necessarily the most impressive. Again, Duke included this prompt so you can convey your personality to an application reader. If you choose a topic you’re not passionate about, it will show. The most reliable way to identify ideal topics is reflection. Start by identifying an experience or relationship that is important to you. Don’t think too hard. Just identify the first thing that comes to mind.

  • Who is the most important person in your life? Why?
  • When was the last time you felt pure contentment and joy?
  • What about that experience made you feel whole?

Try to identify your core values. For example, if the first thing that comes to mind is playing checkers at Christmas with your cousin, you probably value family, connection, and tradition. Or perhaps you and your cousin have a special relationship where you joke around and poke fun at each other. In that case, you value lightheartedness and not taking life too seriously. The idea is to show who you are at your core and what makes you tick.

Lastly, remind Duke that both you and Duke will benefit from your engagement in their community. Take a couple of sentences to indicate that you’re excited about continuing your personal development at Duke and can’t wait to engage with the community around you.

Final Thoughts

Don’t start writing until you’ve outlined your thoughts and ideas. While these essays should have a personal tone, don’t forget about grammar and spelling. They still matter! An outline will help you stay organized and focused so you can clearly tell Duke why you’d be the perfect fit for their school.

Need help with your supplemental essays? Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategist can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect essay prompt response. Get your essay reviewed today!

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