How to write a college or university essay introduction!

When you start writing your college essay or personal statement, don't ignore the introduction! In fact, it's probably the most important part of your essay, because it hooks in the reader. Ideally, your intro should begin with an attention-grabbing sentence.

A lot of people make the mistake of writing an introductory paragraph that explains what they're going to talk about in the rest of the essay. You might write something like this, “I've had a lot of different experiences on my journey to college, like working with others, helping the needy, and other college activities. I think all these things have helped me grow as a person and prepare for what's ahead.” However, the reader doesn’t need so much fluff – so get right to the facts and be specific!

To write a great college essay, start by focusing on your most interesting experience and telling that story (the rest of your essay) in the strongest way possible.

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How to begin your college essay (also applies to application essays too!)

Starting any process can be difficult, especially if it has the potential to impact your future. If you're not sure how to get started on your essay, our essay prep tips can help.

    Step 1: Begin by simply writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper. This will help you to develop a clearer and more concise text later on.

    Step 2: Be prepared to spend some time on your essay. Your time is valuable, so be ready to allocate a few hours to working on your essay, rather than procrastinating or visiting friends.

    Step 3: If you are given the opportunity to choose your own topic, select something that is significant to you. It is important to write about an experience that has had a significant impact on your life. In this case, being general and common is not ideal.

    Step 4: It is important to take breaks while writing an essay. Trying to write the whole essay at once can be overwhelming and lead to subpar work. Instead, take a break for a few weeks to think about how to turn your notes into a cohesive text. This will help you produce a better essay.

    Step 5: It can be helpful to ask for help when writing an essay. The process can be tiring and tough, and it can be difficult to know what data to include. You can ask your friends or parents for help, or look at college essay editing services to be sure of what you have written. is a great option for fixing rough texts and essays.

Here’s a quick overview of the core steps to writing an amazing essay:

There are a few things to keep in mind when starting a college essay. First, make sure to start with a strong hook that will grab the reader's attention. Second, be sure to craft a clear and concise thesis statement that will guide the rest of your essay. Finally, make sure to use concrete and specific examples to support your points. By following these simple tips, you'll be well on your way to writing a great college essay.

Introduction: Part 1 of writing a college/university essay

After researching the expectations for college essays, you can begin to formulate a plan for your own essay.

The introduction to your essay is crucial in setting the tone and direction for the rest of the piece. It should be a clear text without any summarizing points, and it must include your thesis statement - the main idea of your essay. Its purpose is to give the reader a clear understanding of what is to come. The ideal length for a college essay introduction is around five sentences. This is enough to give a general first impression without going into too much detail.

The 6 Best Ways to Start a College or University Essay (this also applies to admission essays too!)

When writing your college essay, it is important to start with a strong introduction. This means creating a meaningful thesis statement and providing your readers with an overview of what they can expect to read in the essay. Here are some tips to help you write a strong introduction for your college essay:

Tip 1: Use all the time you have!

It is unnecessary to restate the essay prompt in the opening of the essay. If you begin with something like, “These are the reasons why Plato was brilliant,” this will take up the reader’s valuable time. It is best to avoid starting your essay with something generic.

Consider this essay introduction:

“I’m quite unsure which part of Kant’s theories are the most important, because all his philosophies are valid. I will outline the specific theories regarding his categorical imperative notion.”

This writer has a potentially valid introduction, but it doesn’t grasp the reader’s attention because it is vague and doesn’t focus on what will be written about. Remember, be specific!

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Tip 2: Jumping right in will help to engage the reader and keep them hooked.

An interesting introduction will do a superior job of hooking the reader and ensuring they stay engaged. Engaging the reader can be accomplished in various ways depending on what you’re writing about. By hinting at aspects of the story, you can create a vivid picture in the reader's mind and keep them guessing about what will happen next. This builds suspense and keeps the reader hooked on finding out what happens next.

Tip 3: Tell your reader what’s unique about yourself!

If there's something special about you that's also relevant to your essay, go ahead and start with that! You're competing against hundreds or even thousands of other applicants, so anything that makes you stand out from the crowd is bound to work in your favor.

Writing text that grabs the attention of the reader and talks about something unique in their lives is a great way to start your essay. Be sure to expand on these details in the following paragraphs.

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Tip 4: Depict an image in the reader’s mind

Beginning with a descriptive sentence can help build an image in your reader’s mind to better understand your point. Take for example this writer who paints a descriptive picture for the reader:

“When I need to clear my head, there are two places I go to. The first is the top of the hill near my house. I like to go there because I can see everything around me and it feels like I'm on top of the world. The second place is the library. It's quiet and peaceful, and I can find a corner to curl up in with a good book.”

Tip 5: An Element of Mystery

One way to engage your reader is by writing with mystery and surprise. This can make your essay stand out since admissions officers often have to read through many essays at a time. If you can make your readers guess what you are writing about, they are more likely to keep reading.

Tip 6: Share something personal or something you overcame

Share a problem you have faced, and then explain how you tackled it. This applicant relates how an issue of international prominence became personalized for him and his family:

“I remember when I was younger and my family and I faced a problem. We didn't know how to tackle it at first, but we eventually did. I'm so proud of my family for overcoming that difficult time.”


“I have faced many problems in my life, but one that stands out is the issue of immigration. This issue became very personal for me and my family when we had to leave our home country and come to the United States. We had to start over in a new country, with a new language and culture. It was a very difficult time for us, but we were determined to make it work. We worked hard to learn English and to adjust to our new life. It was a lot of work, but we did it and we are now doing well in the United States.”

You don't need to limit yourself to global issues – you can state a general problem that affects most people, and then personalize it by relating how it affects you and what you're doing or will do to address it. This will make your introduction more dramatic and powerful.

How to start college essay examples: a piece of inspiration for you

After learning about how to write essays, you may want to find a successful essay example to better understand the structure of the text. This can help you understand the formatting and style of the essay. Additionally, you may be able to find inspiration while reading a college admission essay example.

If you want to be a successful essay writer, it helps to read other successful essays. This way, you can learn the writing style and format in advance. That way, when you sit down to write your own essay, you won't have to waste time looking up how to do it.

If you're looking for tips on how to start a college essay, there are plenty of sources you can consult. Admitted students often share their successful application stories, which can provide you with valuable insights and knowledge. And, of course, spending some time reading these stories can be enjoyable too.


Q: How long should an introduction be for a college or university essay?

A: Although there's no set word count, generally aim for 5-7 sentences, including a thesis statement (if required).

Q: Is there a word count limit for a college admission essay about yourself?

A: There is no set word count for college admission essays about yourself, but most colleges will have a word limit for the essay, which is typically around 650 words.

Q: Is there a minimum word count for writing a college or university admissions essay?

A: The set minimum is typically around 400 words for college admission essays, but most schools suggest that students write around 650 words. This gives students enough space to introduce themselves and tell their story, without getting too bogged down in the details.   

Q: Is there an average word count for writing a college admissions essay?

A: There is no definitive answer to this question, as the word count for college admission essays can vary greatly depending on the specific requirements of the school or program to which you are applying. However, as a general guideline, most college admission essays are between 500 and 750 words.