College Introduction Essay Samples

Admission Essay & Personal Statement Development Services
On the surface I think I am like most young and modern American women: I take school seriously, I have dreams and goals for the future that I am determined to make happen, and I don't expect anyone to do the hard work for me. I come from what is an increasingly normal background: my parents are divorced and I live with my mom and sisters and only occasionally see my dad since he now lives on the other side of the country, but I still feel very lucky to have a supportive, if spread out, family behind me. What makes me different from the rest of the crowd though is how I choose to fill my time away from school...
Sometimes a task can seem monumental when you try to visualize the entire thing, but if you break it down into smaller goals suddenly it can become manageable. When I first started to consider going to college so that I could make a better life for myself and my daughter, I thought it was going to be almost impossible. I was working in a convenience store trying to make ends meet as a single mother, but I just knew that there was something more out there for me...
My father always used to say to me: “if you want people to respect you, first you must respect yourself”. At this juncture in my life I see going back to school to earn a degree in nursing as a symbol of respecting myself and the goals I have set for myself. I have made sacrifices in my life that are common for many women: putting my husband’s career before my own, and my child’s life and growth before my own as well, and for many years these sacrifices have been worthwhile...
Many people enjoy building things with Legos when they are growing up, but usually not to the exclusion of all other activities. For me though, nothing was more fun that getting a picture in my mind's eye and then being able to manifest it in reality using those ingenious little blocks, or any other substance that lent itself to my uses...
I was born and raised primarily in Medellin, Colombia, which is a land rich in beauty, but sadly for many of the people living there it is also a land of where poverty is a way of life. I am one of the few lucky ones who has never had to suffer the pains of an empty stomach, or had to struggle to make a living off the land with little or no education to back up my choices. However, if called upon to find a people with a better disposition or more welcoming spirits than those same indigenous people I grew up near, one would be very hard pressed...
Sometimes in life it just takes the influence of one person to help you see yourself in a whole new light. For me that person is my high school counselor Mr. Jones. I have been meeting with him twice a month for the past two years and the difference these meetings have made in my outlook in life, my goals for the future, and most importantly my self-confidence, is amazing...
When I first moved to the United States from Jakarta 8 years ago I was upset about leaving all of people I knew and loved behind me to follow my mother and brother here where we could find better "educational opportunities". I resented the fact that my dad, who is a physician, had to stay in Jakarta to keep up his practice to fund this move, and that we would only be able to see him on the odd occasion he could get away long enough for the endless flight to Arizona, this land where we knew no one...
The curtains are swaying slightly before me and I know that they will soon part and a sea of faces will suddenly be before me, staring up with their eyes burning into mine, unseen because of the footlights, but felt nevertheless. My nervous energy is mounting, but this isn’t the first time I have preformed on stage, and hopefully it won’t be the last. I can remember decades ago in high school when I first began dancing in front of an audience...
There are many challenges facing my generation today: our nation is at war, there are people in our own extremely prosperous country who go to bed hungry every night, and this spring, when I will be lucky enough to graduate from one of the best private high schools in the country, there will be other students elsewhere in America who are also graduating even though they can't read their own diploma...
When I think of ____ University, the aspects that most impress me and fan my desire to immerse myself in this prestigious learning environment are _____ University’s excellent resources. In addition to having some of the most recognized and lauded faculty in world, ____ is committed to maintaining a diverse student population. As person of African heritage who grew up in Jamaica, and is now planning to embark on my university studies in the United States, I see this commitment to diversity as an essential element...

Introduction Types

The introduction is the most important part of your essay, and it has one purpose to fulfill above all others: to draw in the reader. Ideally this should all begin right from the attention-grabbing opening sentence. If the introduction can then go on to orient the reader to the focus of the essay, then that can be very helpful. Orientation, however, is not an essential purpose because that can be achieved gradually in the essay. Many people make the mistake of writing a paragraph that explains what they are going to talk about in the rest of the essay. Such a paragraph might include something such as the following: "My journey toward college has been shaped by a variety of experiences, including academic studies, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities." The reader knows that you are going to talk about these things and is most likely muttering to himself, "Get to the point."

If you have a paragraph such as this in your essay, the best move is to delete it. Often your second paragraph, which begins to discuss a specific experience, will work much better as an introduction. Yet you may also find that a later paragraph works even better. In general, you should bring your most compelling experience to the forefront and then structure your essay around that.

The following is a list of possible approaches to the introduction.

Jump Right In

Some people will start with a compelling experience but will insist upon prefacing that experience with a very generic statement such as the following: "I want to go to college to learn and achieve my goals." Often the reason people will write such a statement is that they feel compelled to restate the question in some way. If your essay is answering the question "Why do you want to go to college?" you should be able to demonstrate your reasons without relying on such a bland summary sentence.

Consider this applicant's introduction:

"I can't tell you in which peer group I'd fit best because I'm a social chameleon and am comfortable in most; I will instead describe my own social situation and the various cliques I drift in and out of."

This applicant writes what starts out as a potentially engaging introduction, but the paragraph immediately loses the reader's interest by telling him what the applicant is going to write about.

Now consider the applicant's second paragraph:

"My high school's student body is from a part of town that is much more diverse than the rest of the city, and the city as a whole is more diverse than most of the state. The location of my school, only a few blocks from the University of Oregon, is greatly responsible for the social atmosphere. Whereas the other high schools in town draw mainly from middle-class white suburban families, mine sits in the division between the poor west university neighborhood and the affluent east university one. East university is hilly and forested with quiet residential streets and peaceful, large houses. A few blocks west, using the university as the divider, the houses become small and seedy. On the west side of my school there are many dirty apartments; crime is high and social status is low."

Here, the writer engages the reader by providing a vivid description of the locale of his home and school. He probably felt he needed the introductory paragraph so the reader would not be confused by his second paragraph. However, by adding such a short and bland introduction, he has decreased the effectiveness of his personal statement. It is sometimes unnecessary to establish context right away. Let your story flow, engaging the reader and gradually relating setting and context.

The advice to jump right in also applies to anecdotes. One effective way to grab the reader's attention is to describe the action of your story.

Consider this applicant's introduction:

"'Breez in and breez out. Clear yor mind by zinking of somezing plasant.' For five minutes, all of us found ourselves sitting cross-legged on the floor with a soft, sleepy look on our faces as we subconsciously nodded to the soothing rhythmic voice of our French teacher. Our heads were still half wafting in the delicious swirls of dreamland, barely dwelling in the bittersweet shock of reality. Time whizzed by swiftly and we were forced to tend to the grueling task of untangling our aching frames, stiffened from prolonged straining positions."

The above introduction does a much better job of engaging the reader. Dialogue can be a very effective way to win over the reader's attention. This applicant lets the reader know the setting—his French class—even though he never explicitly states the location of the story. He paints a vivid picture in the reader's mind while incorporating the element of mystery, as the reader wonders what further action will occur, as well as what the point of this anecdote will ultimately be.

Show Your Originality

If you can make yourself stand out right from the first sentence, then you will have contributed a great deal to your case for admission. You should not just throw out a random fact about yourself. However, if your essay is going to emphasize a unique aspect of your life, then by all means that should come up right away.

This applicant starts with:

"When I was four years old I decided to challenge conventional notions of the human limit by flying through a glass window. The impetus was Superman, whose exploits on television had induced my experiment. Nine stitches and thirteen years later, while I no longer attempt to be stronger than steel or faster than a speeding bullet, I still find myself testing my limits, mental and physical."

This applicant takes a similar approach:

"I am an addict. I tell people I could stop anytime, but deep inside, I know I am lying. I need to listen to music, to write music, to play music every day. I can't go a whole day without, at the very least, humming or whistling the tunes that crowd my head. I sing myself hoarse each morning in the shower, and playing the trumpet leaves a red mouthpiece-shaped badge of courage on my lips all day. I suspect that if someone were to look at my blood under a microscope, they would see, between the platelets and t-cells, little black musical notes coursing through my body."

Both writers have succeeded in grabbing our attention and revealing something unique about their personalities, which they will go on to explain in further detail.

A Concrete Image

Starting with a concrete image helps the reader to grasp your point more immediately. For example, this applicant begins to describe her favorite places to think:

"While eating Cheerios, my eyes wandered from the yellow giant cardboard box, to the white plastered ceiling, with shades of dawn in muted colors, and back to my bowl of cereal."

This is probably not a particular episode, since the applicant frequently uses the kitchen table as a thoughtful refuge. Yet she offers a vivid description with concrete details, and so we can picture her sitting at her kitchen table, letting her mind drift into pensive thought.

The Element of Mystery

There are many ways to engage your reader, but the elements of mystery and surprise are perhaps the most effective. With admissions officers pouring over as many as fifty essays in a day, they begin to scan applicant statements, stopping to read only those that are written extremely well and are out of the ordinary. There is perhaps no better way to get your readers to finish reading your personal statement than to make them guess what you are writing about through the element of mystery.

Consider this applicant's introduction:

"I had a mental image of them standing there, wearing ragged clothes, hot and depressed, looking upon us as intruders in their world. They would sneer at our audacity. We would invade their territory only to take pictures and observe them like tourists."

Though the applicant provides precise details that help form a concrete picture in the mind of the reader, he makes sure to keep from relating other vital information that will establish context until the second paragraph:

"We climbed out of the van and faced eleven men assembled in the shade. My mental image was confirmed. My class, consisting of twelve primarily white, middle-class students, felt out of place. Our Politics of Food curriculum at Governor's School, a summer environmental program, included an interview with migrant workers. We were at a farm worker labor camp in southern New Jersey, but judging from the rural landscape, it may as well have been Iowa. I felt like a trespasser."

State a Problem

By stating a problem, you create instant curiosity because the reader wants to see how you will address the issue. This applicant relates how an issue of international prominence became personalized for him and his family:

"I have often wondered whether the United States has an obligation to get involved in the internal conflicts of other countries. When does the power to intervene become an obligation to act? I gained some insight into this dilemma when a small part of the Bosnian war spilled into my home last year."

You do not need to limit yourself to far-reaching global issues. You could state a general problem common to the lives of most people and then go on to personalize it for yourself, relating how it affects you and what you are doing or will do to address it. There are many possibilities here, but what unites them is the element of drama, and you should use that to your advantage in creating a strong introduction.

Next:Conclusions

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