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Sample Weak Supplemental Essay for Duke University

Read an Essay That Makes Many Common Mistakes

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The application to Duke University's Trinity College offers applicants the opportunity to write a supplemental essay that answers the following question: If you are applying to Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular at Duke that attracts you? Please limit your response to one or two paragraphs.

The question asked here is typical of many supplemental essays. Essentially, the admissions folks want to know why their school is of particular interest to you.

Such questions often generate a lot of remarkably bland essays. The example below is one example of what not to do. Read the short essay, and then read the discussion of the mistakes made by the author.

I believe the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke is an excellent match for me. I believe college should not be merely a gateway to the work force; it should educate the student in a variety of subjects and prepare him or her for the range of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in life. I have always been a curious person and enjoy reading all kinds of literature and nonfiction. In high school I excelled in history, English, AP psychology, and other liberal arts subjects. I have not yet decided on a major, but when I do, it will almost certainly be in the liberal arts, such as history or political science. I know that Trinity College is very strong in these areas. But regardless of my major, I want to receive a broad education that spans a variety of areas in the liberal arts, so that I will graduate as not only a viable job prospect, but also as a well-rounded and learned adult who can make diverse and valuable contributions to my community. I believe Duke’s Trinity College will help me grow and become that kind of person.

Read the critique of this short essay.

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