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.
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.
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.
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.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.In general, college essays make it easier to get to know the parts of you 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.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.After you've done this storyteller exercise, write down the salient points of what you learned. What is the point about your life, point of view, or personality it will make? Sketch out a detailed outline so that you can start filling in the pieces as we work through how to write the introductory sections.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.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.