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Duke University 2016 Essay Prompt Advice and Profile

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duke university 2016 essay prompts This might be the only time in your life your mom will be proud of you for aspiring to become an a devil. Duke University is a private institution nestled in Durham, North CarolinaOffering over 100 academic programs, state-of-the-art research facilities, and a global education program that allows students to study domestically or internationally through 50 Duke administered programs or 150 + study abroad programs, it’s no wonder that Duke is such a sought after college destination. The University’s first year experience caters to helping freshmen make new friends and become acquainted with the Duke community. All freshmen live on “East Campus,” which aids in bringing the new class together. 


If you are ready to release the Devil inside of you, get cracking on the essay prompts below with the help of our devilishly good advice and check out the subsequent Duke Spotlight for more information on the school’s stats, traditions and more!

Duke 2016-17 Essay Prompts and Advice

The following question is optional for all applicants to Duke University.

  • 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 to help us understand you better—perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background—we encourage you to do so. 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)

CEA’s ADVICE: Remember that every supplemental essay gives you an opportunity to relay something about yourself that is not expressed anywhere else on the application. So when you’re thinking about “community” and where you belong, consider what an admissions officer might already know about you and steer away from repetition. Think about what communities you participate in outside of school and your extracurricular pursuits. Is there something related to a hobby or passion that you can detail here? What about your culture or heritage? Feel free to stretch the definition of “community” and what the word means. Maybe you are part of a community of classical music appreciators or a community of home chefs (we will gladly sample your wares). Whatever you choose to highlight, make sure you detail how your chosen community has influenced your point of view, and how your participation will help you contribute to a college campus. 

The following question is required for Engineering applicants.

  • If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke. (150 words maximum)

CEA’s ADVICE: This is a very short version of a typical “Why” essay. Thought you don’t have a ton of room to detail your reasons for pursuing your chosen course of study, BE SPECIFIC. Highlight professors, specific programs or activities and anything else that will prove to an admissions officer that you have a pointed interest, not just in an Engineering program, but in Duke’s Engineering program. Including a detail or two about your interest in the university at large will provide even more context for an admissions officer and prove that you know how to read a prompt and follow directions.

The following question is required for Arts & Sciences applicants.

  • If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (150 words maximum)

CEA’s ADVICE: There isn’t a ton of room to express yourself in a 150 word Why Essay. Still, details are important here. What specifically about Duke has drawn you to submit an application? And how do you know that you will be a good fit for the school and vice versa? Look for academic programs that align with your future goals and connect them to your past accomplishments. Mention the names of classes that pique your interests or professors you met during your campus visit. Since the word limit for this essay is so low, every word should work hard towards showcasing your interest in Duke in particular — and in a way that speaks to your personal interests and experiences. If another student could put his/her name on top of your essay, you’re not being specific enough. And you can definitely earn extra points with admissions for managing to make a 150 word essay both informative and creative in any way. It’s tough to do, but not impossible!

More application details are available on Duke’s website, here.

Duke School Spotlight

Basic Stats

  • Number of Undergrads: 6,485
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 7:1
  • Acceptance Rate: 11.4%
  • SAT/ACT Required: Yes
  • Coalition or Common App: Both
  • Early Decision Deadline: November 1, 2016
  • Regular Application Deadline: January 3, 2017

Digging to the Details

School Mission Statement

Duke’s school motto is the latin phrase “Eruditio et Religio,” which translates to “Knowledge and Religion.”

Cool School Traditions 


Springternational is an event open to the entire community, meant to showcase all of the cultures that make up Duke University. This is the largest event of the year and includes international and culturally diverse food and entertainment.


Each spring, Duke hosts the Froshlife Film Festival competition. Participating students create a film (7 minutes or less) showcasing their first year at Duke and the films are shown on East Campus (remember that freshman community we mentioned earlier?). One of the main purposes of Froshlife is to unify the new class and allow its students to reflect on their first year at Duke. About 1,600 first year students participate in production in some way.

Midnight Breakfast

Now this sounds like our kind of tradition. This event happens near the end of the semester as finals approach. The themed event is a collaboration between Duke Dining Services and the East Campus Council. The late night study break is set in Duke’s Marketplace. Past themes have included Candyland, Rock Concert, and Sailing the Seas. Aside from the food, students also flock for the free t-shirts. (Who doesn’t love free stuff?)

Most Popular Academic Programs


Political Science and Government




Social Media

In addition to learning a little bit about Duke through their website and in-person visits, another great way to get a taste of what the college is all about is through its various social media accounts. Following Duke University’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will give prospective students the chance to check out the college and see if their values align with the those of the university. Duke also has student pages for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, allowing anxious future college students to get a taste of what student life is like at Duke and how they may fit in there. Happy stalking!

University Facebook

Student Life Facebook

University Twitter

Student Life Twitter

University Instagram

Student Life Instagram

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