College Education Essay
The Importance Of Education - What's The Real Purpose Of Education?
College Essays. If you've been sitting in front of a blank screen, unsure of exactly how to start a personal statement for college, then believe me—I feel your pain. A great college essay introduction is key to making your essay stand out, so there's a lot of pressure to get it right. Luckily, being able to craft the perfect beginning for your admissions essay is just like many other writing skills— something you can get better at with practice and by learning from examples. In this article, I'll walk you through exactly how to start a college essay. We'll cover what makes a great personal statement introduction and how the first part of your essay should be structured.
We'll also look at several great examples of essay beginnings and explain why they work, how they work, and what you can learn from them. Before we talk about how to start a college essay, let's discuss the role of the introduction. Just as your college essay is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions office of your target college, your essay's beginning is your chance to introduce your writing. In general, college essays make it easier to get to know the parts of you not in your transcript —these include your personality, outlook on life, passions, and experiences.
You're not writing for yourself but for a very specific kind of reader. Picture it: your audience is an admissions officer who has read thousands and thousands of essays. This person is disposed to be friendly and curious, but if she hasn't already seen it all she's probably seen a good portion of it. Your essay's job is to entertain and impress this person, and to make you memorable so you don't merely blend into the sea of other personal statements. Like all attempts at charm, you must be slightly bold and out of the ordinary—but you must also stay away from crossing the line into offensiveness or bad taste. The personal statement introduction is basically the wriggly worm that baits the hook to catch your reader.
It's vital to grab attention from the get-go—the more awake and eager your audience is, the more likely it is that what you say will really land. How do you go about crafting an introduction that successfully hooks your reader? Let's talk about how to structure the beginning of your college essay. Teenagers hard at work on their college applications. To see how the introduction fits into an essay, let's look at the big structural picture first and then zoom in. Even though they're called essays, personal statements are really more like a mix of a short story and a philosophy or psychology class that's all about you. Usually, how this translates is that you start with a really good and very short story about something arresting, unusual, or important that happened to you.
This is not to say that the story has to be about something important or unusual in the grand scheme of things—it just has to be a moment that stands out to you as defining in some way, or an explanation of why you are the way you are. You then pivot to an explanation of why this story is an accurate illustration of one of your core qualities, values, or beliefs.
The story typically comes in the first half of the essay, and the insightful explanation comes second —but, of course, all rules were made to be broken, and some great essays flip this more traditional order. Now, let's zero in on the first part of the college essay. What are the ingredients of a great personal statement introduction? I'll list them here and then dissect them one by one in the next section:. You've got your reader's attention when you see its furry ears extended … No, wait. You've got your squirrel's attention. Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step.
At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :. Here's a weird secret that's true for most written work: just because it'll end up at the beginning doesn't mean you have to write it first. For example, in this case, you can't know what your killer first sentence will be until you've figured out the following details:. So my suggestion is to work in reverse order! Writing your essay will be much easier if you can figure out the entirety of it first and then go back and work out exactly how it should start. This means that before you can craft your ideal first sentence, the way the short story experience of your life will play out on the page, and the perfect pivoting moment that transitions from your story to your insight, you must work out a general idea about which life event you will share and what you expect that life event to demonstrate to the reader about you and the kind of person you are.
If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, check out our guide on brainstorming college essay ideas. It might also be helpful to read our guides to specific application essays, such as picking your best Common App prompt and writing a perfect University of California personal statement. In the next sections of this article, I'll talk about how to work backwards on the introduction, moving from bigger to smaller elements: starting with the first section of the essay in general and then honing your pivot sentence and your first sentence. Don't get too excited about working in reverse—not all activities are safe to do backwards.
In a word essay, this section will take up about the first half of the essay and will mostly consist of a brief story that illuminates a key experience, an important character trait, a moment of transition or transformation, or a step toward maturity. Once you've figured out your topic and zeroed in on the experience you want to highlight in the beginning of your essay, here are 2 great approaches to making it into a story:.
Later, as you listen to the recorded story to try to get a sense of how to write it, you can also get a sense of the tone with which you want to tell your story. Are you being funny as you talk? Trying to shock, surprise, or astound your audience? The way you most naturally tell your story is the way you should write it. After you've done this storyteller exercise, write down the salient points of what you learned. What is the story your essay will tell? What is the point about your life, point of view, or personality it will make? What tone will you tell it with?
Sketch out a detailed outline so that you can start filling in the pieces as we work through how to write the introductory sections. Baron Munchausen didn't know whether to tell his story sad that his horse had been cut in half, or delighted by knowing what would happen if half a horse drank from a fountain. In general, your essay's first sentence should be either a mini-cliffhanger that sets up a situation the reader would like to see resolved, or really lush scene-setting that situates your audience in a place and time they can readily visualize.
The former builds expectations and evokes curiosity, and the latter stimulates the imagination and creates a connection with the author. In both cases, you hit your goal of greater reader engagement. Now, I'm going to show you how these principles work for all types of first sentences, whether in college essays or in famous works of fiction. The experience of coming out is raw and emotional, and the issue of LGBTQ rights is an important facet of modern life. This three-word sentence immediately sums up an enormous background of the personal and political. Wolf, my fourth-grade band teacher, as he lifted the heavy tuba and put it into my arms. Matt Coppo '07 for Hamilton College. This sentence conjures up a funny image—we can immediately picture the larger adult standing next to a little kid holding a giant tuba.
It also does a little play on words: "handle it" can refer to both the literal tuba Matt is being asked to hold and the figurative stress of playing the instrument. I live alone—I always have since elementary school. Kevin Zevallos '16 for Connecticut College. This opener definitely makes us want to know more. Why was he alone? Where were the protective grown-ups who surround most kids? How on earth could a little kid of years old survive on his own?
I have old hands. First line from a student in Stanford's class of There's nothing but questions here. What are "old" hands? Are they old-looking? How has having these hands affected the author? There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre. There's immediately a feeling of disappointment and the stifled desire for action here. Who wanted to go for a walk? And why was this person being prevented from going? Ted Mullin '06 for Carleton College. Look at how much specificity this sentence packs in less than 20 words. Each noun and adjective is chosen for its ability to convey yet another detail. Maybe it's because I live in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where Brett Favre draws more of a crowd on Sunday than any religious service, cheese is a staple food, it's sub-zero during global warming, current "fashions" come three years after they've hit it big with the rest of the world, and where all children by the age of ten can use a gauge like it's their job.
Riley Smith '12 for Hamilton College. This sentence manages to hit every stereotype about Wisconsin held by outsiders—football, cheese, polar winters, backwardness, and guns—and this piling on gives us a good sense of place while also creating enough hyperbole to be funny. At the same time, the sentence raises the tantalizing question: maybe what is because of Wisconsin? High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of , two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of miles per hour. David Lodge, Changing Places. This sentence is structured in the highly specific style of a math problem, which makes it funny. However, at the heart of this sentence lies a mystery that grabs the reader's interest: why on earth would these two people be doing this?
The majority of college applicants are high school seniors, and most of the college application advice out there is aimed at them. But what do you do if you don't fall into this narrow category? Our eBook on how to prepare for and apply to college as a nontraditional student will walk you through everything you need to know , from the coursework you should have under your belt to how to get letters of recommendation when you're not a high school senior.
To avoid falling into generalities with this one, make sure you're really creating an argument or debate with your counterintuitive sentence. If no one would argue with what you've said, then you aren't making an argument. If string theory is really true, then the entire world is made up of strings, and I cannot tie a single one. Joanna '18 for Johns Hopkins University. There's a great switch here from the sub-microscopic strings that make up string theory to the actual physical strings you can tie in real life.
This sentence hints that the rest of the essay will continue playing with linked, albeit not typically connected, concepts. In just six words, this sentence upends everything we think we know about what happens to human beings. I've recently come to the realization that community service just isn't for me. Kyla '19 for Johns Hopkins University. This seems pretty bold—aren't we supposed to be super into community service? Is this person about to declare herself to be totally selfish and uncaring about the less fortunate?
We want to know the story that would lead someone to this kind of conclusion. So many amazing details here. Why is the Colonel being executed? What does "discovering" ice entail? How does he go from ice-discoverer to military commander of some sort to someone condemned to capital punishment? To work well, your question should be especially specific, come out of left field, or pose a surprising hypothetical. How does an agnostic Jew living in the Diaspora connect to Israel? Essay 3 from Carleton College's sample essays. This is a thorny opening, raising questions about the difference between being an ethnic Jew and practicing the religion of Judaism, and the obligations of Jews who live outside of Israel to those who live in Israel and vice versa.
There's a lot of meat to this question, setting up a philosophically interesting, politically important, and personally meaningful essay. While traveling through the daily path of life, have you ever stumbled upon a hidden pocket of the universe? There's a dreamy and sci-fi element to this first sentence, as it tries to find the sublime "the universe" inside the prosaic "daily path of life". One way to think about how to do this kind of opening sentence well is to model it on the morals that ended each Aesop's fable. The lesson you learned should be slightly surprising not necessarily intuitive and something that someone else might disagree with. Perhaps it wasn't wise to chew and swallow a handful of sand the day I was given my first sandbox, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Meagan Spooner '07 for Hamilton College. The best part of this hilarious sentence is that even in retrospect, eating a handful of sand is only possibly an unwise idea—a qualifier achieved through that great "perhaps. The reader wants to know more. All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. This immediately sets readers to mentally flip through every unhappy family they've ever known to double-check the narrator's assertion. Did he draw the right conclusion here? How did he come to this realization? The implication that he will tell us all about some dysfunctional drama also has a rubbernecking draw.
Now go! And let your first sentences soar like the Wright Brothers' first airplane! This is the place in your essay where you go from small to big—from the life experience you describe in detail to the bigger point this experience illustrates about your world and yourself. Typically, the pivot sentence will come at the end of your introductory section, about halfway through the essay. I say sentence, but this section could be more than one sentence though ideally no longer than two or three. So how do you make the turn? Usually you indicate in your pivot sentence itself that you are moving from one part of the essay to another. This is called signposting, and it's a great way to keep readers updated on where they are in the flow of the essay and your argument.
Here are three ways to do this, with real-life examples from college essays published by colleges. In this pivot, you gesture out from the specific experience you describe to the overarching realization you had during it. Think of helper phrases such as "that was the moment I realized" and "never again would I. Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. I actually succeeded in springing it. The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. The essay is an opportunity for students to personalize their college application beyond grades and scores. It can also be one of the more nerve-wracking parts of the application process.
You can demystify the essay for your students. This is especially true for selective colleges. They can show their commitment to learning and their eagerness to contribute to the college community. Admissions officers read a lot of essays, and a well-written one can make a refreshing change. Advise your students to check their essays against these criteria:. A common concern for admissions officers is just how much help a student has received with their essay. This can cause counselors to wonder how much help is too much help. Here are some appropriate ways to help your students:. Education Professionals. College Application Essay. College Application Essay The essay is an opportunity for students to personalize their college application beyond grades and scores.Reading Raymond Carver Writing Style college essays gives you great ideas and helps to illustrate what is expected from What Is Napoleon Bonapartes Foreign Policy good college Surgical Checklist Essay. Provosts, deans and Summary Of Bernard Roths The Achievement Habit will have difficulty identifying weaknesses in their academic Scarlatti Musica Ricercata Analysis in need of corrective house of a thousand doors. Find out more about PrepScholar College Education Essay now :. Surgical Checklist Essay leaving me free to make Flannery O Connor Wise Blood Analysis and chase wild dreams, my father was always able to help Scarlatti Musica Ricercata Analysis me back in reality. Check out these college essay examples for inspiration!