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Duke University 2022-23 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Duke University 2022-23 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: One required 250-word essay and two optional 250-word essays
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Community, Diversity

What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you?  If there’s something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well. (250 word limit)

Admissions is truly asking you to do your homework here. What do you make of Duke and why do you want to go there? This space is a wonderful opportunity for you to summarize the aspects of a Duke college experience that call to you and to address your personal connection to this elite school. Were you able to tour campus last year? What drew you in? What part of campus could you see yourself hanging out in? Where do 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—academic and otherwise.

We want to emphasize that the following questions are optional. Feel free to answer them if you believe that doing so will add something meaningful that is not already shared elsewhere in your application.  Four optional questions are available – a maximum of 2 can be selected.
Please select 0 – 2 optional essay topics. (Respond in 250 words or fewer.)

1) We seek a diverse student body that embodies the wide range of human experience.  In that context, we are interested in what you’d like to share about your lived experiences and how they’ve influenced how you think of yourself. 

Odds are that this isn’t the first “diversity” essay prompt you’ve come across this year. If it is, however, please read on. Duke wants to accept students from a range of backgrounds who will contribute to diversity on campus, so tell admissions about what makes you you and how you will be a meaningful addition to the Duke student body. Think about times when people have been intrigued by or curious about your identity, upbringing, or background. Consider the parts of yourself that you take pride in, parts that set you apart from others. Maybe you were diagnosed with a rare condition that impacts your daily life. Have you adapted to a new normal? Did you have to mature quickly to make adjustments to your lifestyle? Perhaps your family has been hosting international students for as long as you can remember. How has meeting people from all over the globe impacted your worldview and the way you relate to others? Invite admissions to get to know you on a deeper level through the story you tell. 

2) We believe there is benefit in sharing and sometimes questioning our beliefs or values; who do you agree with on the big important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about?

This prompt is an inquiry: how do you communicate with others about difficult topics and issues? Duke wants to foster the kind of learning environment that encourages respectful discussions about beliefs and values, so tell them about someone you speak with about issues you hold dear to your heart. Maybe it’s a mentor in your life, who you consult when you feel overwhelmed by current events. Do they provide reassurance that you’re on the right path? Perhaps it’s a family member who tends to disagree with your worldview and vision for a better future. How do you approach these complex conversations? Have you ever questioned what you believe in, or perhaps, discovered a new perspective you hadn’t considered before? How have you become a better listener or speaker because of these chats? Don’t forget to mention the topic or issue of importance here, so you can also give admissions insight into what you care about. 

3) What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good?

It’s no surprise that Duke is hoping to invite students to campus who are excited about learning, so take this opportunity to geek out about an awesome learning experience you had recently. Maybe you were given permission to write your research paper on a historic event that has always amazed you, and through that project, you were able to deepen your understanding of the complex social hierarchies during the Qin dynasty. Perhaps you had the opportunity to take a class or seminar with a teacher you really admire or you went on a field trip that expanded your horizons. Whatever it may be, this is the perfect place to show admissions your passion for your academic interest(s). 

4) Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. If you’d like to share with us more about your identity in this context, feel free to do so here.

Duke was one of the first schools to embrace the subject of sexual orientation in their essay questions, and this is yet another step in their overt attempt to recruit a truly diverse pool of applicants. They want 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, we recommend responding to two of the other three prompts!

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