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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.
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.
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, this story is an accurate illustration of one of your core qualities, values, or beliefs.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.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.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: Want to write the perfect college application essay? Your dedicated Prep Scholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up.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.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.