Duke Example Essays & Supplements

2018 Duke University Accepted Essays and Supplements

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As one of the top colleges in the nation, admission into Duke University is extremely competitive. Below are an accepted Common App essay and supplements for Duke University written by a real student who was accepted by Duke. The writing portion of college applications is becoming increasingly important in order to stand out, so we'll be taking a look at what made these essays and supplements a successful portion of the application in the analysis sections.

EssaysThatWorked uses real accepted essays and supplements to exemplify and teach what makes an effective, competitive, and strong college essay. There are five main principles of a strong essay: Central Idea, Voice, Storytelling, Analysis, and Readability. These elements in combination work to make a compelling, interesting, and powerful essay that showcases your voice and helps you stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in essays and supplements are replaced so as to keep the author's privacy.

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Duke Common App Personal Statement #1

Written by Anonymous Student Verified Real Acceptance
PROMPT:
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. (250-650 words)
I spent much of my childhood watching movies. I became absolutely engrossed in many different films, TV shows, and animations. From the movie theatres to the TV, I spent my hours enjoying the beauty of visual media. One place that was special to me was the car. My parents purchased a special screen that could be mounted on the back of the headrest, so that I could watch movies on trips. This benefited both parties, as I was occupied, and they had peace. Looking back, I realize this screen played a crucial role in my childhood. It was an integral part of many journeys. I remember taking a drive to Washington D.C, with my visiting relatives from Poland, and spending my time with my eyes on the screen. I remember packing up my possessions and moving to my current home from Queens, watching my cartoons the whole time. I can comfortably say that watching movies in the car has been an familiar anchor during times of change in my life.
I used to watch many different cartoons, nature documentaries, and other products in the car, yet there has been one movie that I have rewatched constantly. It is called “Kiki’s Delivery Service” by Hayao Miyazaki. My parents picked it up at a garage sale one day, and I fell in love. The style of the animations were beautiful, and the captivating story of a thirteen year old witch leaving home really appealed to me. To be honest, the initial times I watched it, I didn’t fully understand the story but the magic and beauty just made me happy. Then, the more I watched it, I began to see that it was more about independence, including the need to get away from home and establish yourself as your own person. This mirrors how I felt during that period of my life,with mehaving a little rebellious streak; I didn’t agree with my parents on certain topics. That is not the end of the story though. As the years passed, and I watched it a couple more times, although with less frequency than before, my view of this movie evolved yet again.
Instead of solely thinking about the need for independence, I began to think the movie was more about the balance of independence and reliance. In the movie, the girl finds herself struggling until she begins to accept help from others. Looking back, this also follows my own philosophy during this time. As I began to mature, I began to realize the value of family, and accept all the help I can get from them. I appreciate all the hard work they had done for me, and I recognize their experience in life and take advantage of it. I passed through my rebellious phase, and this reflected in my analysis of the movie. I believe that this is common, and if I look through the rest of my life I am sure I would find other similar examples of my thoughts evolving based on the stage in my life. This movie is one of the most important to me throughout my life.

Duke Common App Personal Statement #2

Written by Anonymous Student Verified Real Acceptance
PROMPT:
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. (250-650 words)
I close my eyes and find myself within a forest of lights.
The diamond leaves of gnarled oak trees throw spectrums of color onto mounds of frosty snow that gleam melancholily under the moonlight. The leaves chime as wind violently rustles them in a haunting melody. I splinter a leaf off its branch and inspect the shard of my illusion, eyes dancing with amusement.
I breathe a cloud into the nipping air and half­consciously crunch through a path of snow as it languorously carves its way through the forest. I walk to the sound of clinking, broken gems as they scratch my ankles, and wonder what circuitry must be alight in my wits to create this particular fantasy. I stumble along in hope of unravelling this enigma, my mind guiding me on its own inclination.
The path opens up at last, and I approach a cabin shrouded by thick fog. The door opens for me and I wonder at the foreboding as I sit in a cherry­wood chair and sip a sparkling chartreuse drink. My feet swing idly as I listen to the forest’s indiscernible whispers, wondering whether my mind would ever allow me to unstitch its knots.
As I dwell in my worries, a cold hand reaches from behind me and taps my shoulder.
I jerk away, fear bubbling in my amygdala as I look into the nonexistent eyes of my intruding visitor.
The moon illuminates a blob of pink squish as it draws back slowly, points its spindly hands towards my drink and asks: “Could I have some of that?” I wordlessly offer the eerie thing some Mountain Dew. I watch as it eagerly chugs the drink, and think, Ah. My mind is definitely acting strangely today.
The blob wipes its invisible mouth with its nonexistent sleeve. I ask: “What are you?”
It shakes its head, invigorated with soda. “S’pose it’s natural not to recognize me.” The thing smiles ominously and declares itself as my brain. I stare mutely at the absurd being. I wonder at how I will be able to paint it in my waking state.
The blob tells me to stop looking at it so suspiciously. “I can prove it,” It says. I tell it, please, go ahead.
Suddenly we are back in the glowing forest. “Diamonds? Pah!” The blob dismisses them. Instantly, the leaves turn solid gold, the snow melts, and the wintry world is thrown into a blistering summer.
The blob laughs heartlessly. “Your cortex is under my control,” it says smugly.
I blink under the sudden intensity and acknowledge its greatness, humbled by its supremacy. “I heard you had a question for me?” It taps its invisible ears knowingly.
This is perfect, I think. Here I was all this time wandering through my mind, searching for the answer, when now I could ask my brain for it directly. The blob wriggles its invisible brows as it waits.
I open my mouth and ask it my most crucial question.
It smiles that wicked smile. It laughs that sinful laugh. Then that insufferable blob wakes me up.
As I sit up in the dark and rub my bleary eyes, I am vaguely aware of the deep­set unfulfillment settling itself inside me. I yawn and plop back into bed, the soft red glow of my alarm clock indicating that it is still before midnight. I cover myself with my blanket, and drift back into sleep to continue my search.

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