Duke University

19 Duke Essay Examples That Worked

Updated for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

About Duke

Duke University is a great fit for students looking for a blend of lively student culture and academic rigor. Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country. Students are empowered to explore innovative fields of research in subjects as disparate as political science and astrophysics. Its vibrant student body cannot be overlooked, either. It’s often said that Duke students bleed blue (their school color), and basketball culture runs deep at Duke! Overall, Duke University produces graduates that are highly sought after by businesses all around the world, thanks to its large student population, distinguished professors, and varied array of resources.

At a glance…

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Durham, NC

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Real Essays from Duke Admits

Prompt: Why Duke?

I’ve always been a storyteller, whether I’m telling my own stories with creative writing, another creative’s story with theater, or a business’s story with marketing. Duke is an ideal match for me because its interdisciplinary focus would allow me to pursue a variety of avenues within storytelling.

As part of Duke’s English Department, I would explore a range of courses: seminars on Jane Austen and Grimm’s fairy tales, workshops in writing fiction and screenplays, and instruction on navigating the publishing industry. The Duke in New York program would also contribute to my learning with hands-on experience in media and entertainment. Outside of my major, the “Markets and Management” certificate would further my marketing skill set.

As part of Duke’s diverse student body, I would be an active member of Hoof’ N’ Horn, eagerly running shows as stage manager or director and collaborating on the Production Council. Editing for The Archive would build my skills in literary analysis and editing. By fully embracing the academic and extracurricular opportunities, I know I would thrive as a student and storyteller at Duke.

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Essay by Abby

English major interested in creative writing, theater, & film

Prompt: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

I stepped forward, blinded by the bright gym lights, and reached for the microphone. Standing in front of the two hundred-something students, I took a deep breath and introduced myself.

"Hi. I'm [Name Redacted] [Name Redacted]. Most of you know me, but for those who don't, I'm a sophomore, and I'm here to tell you about how High Tech High is going to help you get to college."

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was offered the chance to represent the student body and work along with five other students to create lesson plans and other activities to expose students to the possibilities after high school.

At the time, my school consisted only of freshmen and sophomores, and as part of the very first graduating class, there were no upperclassmen to look up to. Ninety-nine other 15-16 year-olds and I were the oldest students on campus - we were the example for the freshmen, and with that came the truly unique opportunity to be role models and to leave an impact on the future of our school.

I realized this and decided I wanted to do more than just lessons and activities - they were great, but I wanted to present the same enamor that I had for the future after high school. I felt that only a current student could articulate the anxiety and anticipation surrounding the daunting years ahead, and only a current student could reassure their peers that those feelings were appropriate. I pitched my idea to my teammates, and we agreed to each focus on an aspect of pre and post-graduation experience, putting in extra hours after school to brainstorm and rehearse for our presentation at the next community meeting.

Our presentation ended up a success. Both students and staff were appreciative of our efforts - a student described it as "eye-opening" - then I knew that we truly did benefit our community with our message, even though that impact may have been small. We were pioneers: we transformed our school's landscape, ever slowly, ever slightly, but nevertheless transforming it - for the better.

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Essay by RD - Stanford

CS & Math @ Stanford | 10 acceptances (likely's, scholarships, etc) | Well-rounded ECs, unique essays

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