A great beginning and ending are essential to a college essay. Beginnings draw the reader in while endings leave the reader wanting more. If you can achieve this, then your essay will stand out amongst the crowd.
So, how do you start an essay?
A great beginning doesn’t just happen; in fact, your perfect opening might not be in your first paragraph at all. Once you start writing, you may find that your golden hook (the opening line of your essay) is somewhere buried in a later paragraph.
There are a few ways you can begin an essay that will surely capture your reader’s attention.
1. Start With an Image
Unravel what’s happening in your story without being obvious it’s tricky. You want to sound mysterious, but you don’t want to leave your reader confused.
If you are going to start with an image, such as “My face slammed into the water,” make sure the reader understands what your essay is about by the end of the paragraph. For these types of openings, it might help to have someone read it over before you submit it.
II. Start With a Statistic
This is a great hook if your essay is all about action. If you are passionate about a problem in our society and are actively fighting to solve this issue, starting with a statistic will open your reader’s eyes and engage them.
III. Start With a Quote
This is controversial. Some colleges hate when essays start with a quote and dissuade students from doing so. The UC system tells its applicants to not start with a quote.
On the other hand, some colleges love it. Princeton even has an essay where you find a famous quote and write about it.
A quote is a good way to dive into a challenging conversation. But the key to nailing this hook is to make sure your quote works. Don’t pick a quote because it’s cute or it’s funny. It must link to the central idea of your essay. If you found an interesting, deep quote that cuts to the core of your message, than this can be a great beginning.
IV: Start with a Question
Similar to beginning with a quote, the question must be thought provoking and connect to your main idea. The best questions are the ones that don’t have just one right answer. The juicier the question, the more interesting your essay will be.
V. Start With a Fun Fact
This is an approach not used a lot, but it can be quite effective. For example, here’s a fun fact about Brooke:
“My great grandmother was the 6th female to get her driver’s license in Kansas City.”
It’s a unique fact, but how does it relate to writing a college essay?
Fun facts are great ways to set up essays. This fun fact, for example, could set up an amazing essay about strong women in her family and how it affected her.
VI. Start With a Memorable Detail
This detail will be the detail you build your essay around. Here’s an example of starting your essay with a detail:
“They called me a cry baby.”
Maybe you cried all the time as a kid. This can be a concept or idea you can build your essay around.
So, now you have your strong opening and you’ve written the meaty middle of your essay. How you do end your essay now?
There are a few key things you must do at the end of your essay
Your essay must reveal something about yourself and leave the reader with some sort of takeaway.
II. Have an Agenda
Your essay must have a purpose to fulfill. Maybe you were trying to show your reader how you are going to be a future journalist. Maybe you wanted to show how you grew as a musician in high school. Either way, your ending must leave the reader knowing something about you they wouldn’t have otherwise known.
III. Come Full Circle
You don’t have to do this, but it’s a great way to end an essay. Perhaps you posed a question in the beginning. Now, it’s time to answer it. If you started with an image, come back to it again.
IV: Say Something That Feels Final
Remember, you’re not starting a new conversation in the last paragraph of your essay. Don’t add; sum it all up.
V: Extend Outwards
End your essay looking into your future. Where do you go from here? What are the future dreams you hope to achieve? How are you impacting the world at large?
If you’re having trouble ending your essay, it may be because you haven’t found your essay’s true purpose yet. If you haven’t hit some of these points, go back and look through your essay again. It may need some polishing.