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Why Duke? You’ll have plenty of space to gush about Duke’s academic offerings in response to the next prompt, so we recommend saving your academic interests for later. Instead, this space is a wonderful opportunity for you to address your personal connection to Duke. Were you able to tour campus last year? What drew you in? What part of campus could you see yourself hanging out in? Where did you see yourself studying for exams? Admissions knows that Duke is a prestigious university with impressive alumni to boot, so make sure to personalize your answer. Instead of showering Duke with compliments, focus on how Duke has attracted your interest and how you hope an education at Duke will prepare you to accomplish your goals.
This is a classic Community Essay, through and through. Admissions Officers want to know what or who has made you into the person you are today. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person, and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Admissions is looking to add diverse perspectives to the melting pot that is their student body. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Also consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others? Were you raised in a Muslim family? Do you identify as genderqueer? Were you adopted as a child? What has influenced your identity? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Duke?
Duke was one of the first schools to embrace the subject of sexual orientation in their essay questions (see the community essay prompt), and this is yet another step in their overt attempt to recruit a truly diverse pool of applicants. The school wants you to know that they are embracing all sexual orientations, and if you are open to discussing your own history and identity, feel free to share your story. Note that this question will likely not be applicable to all students, so if you don’t have a related story to tell, this is one of the few “optional” supplemental essays that we would encourage you to skip.