How to Write a Killer Introduction — 4 Tips You Need to Know
by Ben Frederick MD
on August 9, 2016
Applicants typically have the toughest time writing the introductions of personal statements. You have all this great experience — where to begin? If you find yourself thinking the same thing, these 4 tips are about to change everything:
#1: Start with a story
The best way hook the admissions team into your essay is to start with a gripping story from a moment that changed your life. For example, one applicant described how she had lost a friend in a car accident and pulled the reader right into the thick of that life-changing situation: “Her body laid on the gurney, cold to the touch. I looked at her face once more, kissed her forehead, and whispered goodbye.” A little story like this not only gives the selection committee better insight into who you are, but it also keeps their attention longer so they WANT to learn more about you.
#2: Use vivid imagery
By including little details, active verbs and a more story-like format, you can transform your introduction into a gripping start to your essay. Incorporate aspects of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to really take it to the next level. As you can see in the following two examples, the little details make all the difference:
Not very vivid: We were sitting in the emergency room and were staring at the ground. It was hard to wait so long and not know if she was ok.
More vivid: The fluorescent lights buzzed as we sat in the emergency room. I sat bent forward with my head resting on my knees, staring blankly at the cracks in the tile floor below. Would she make it? Would I ever see her again?
#3: Bridge your past, present and future
Your introduction has one primary goal: It must tell the admissions team where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. You can do this by using transitions that seamlessly weave those parts together. For example:
“After working for five years as a researcher , I discovered that while I loved problem-solving, I longed to be able to work directly with the real people behind the data. By applying to medical school , I look forward to bringing my unique lab experience into a clinical setting. Becoming a physician , will allow me to form strong relationships with my patients and problem solve for them on an individual level.”
#4: End with your ultimate goal
In the above example, you’ll notice that the final sentence includes a note about what the long-term goal is: becoming a physician. Always make sure to include this in the last sentence or two of your introduction! The admissions team wants to know that you have a specific career goal in mind, which will give them more confidence in you.
Once you sew together a great introduction, it's always smart to run it past an editor to make sure you're on the right track. Don't hesitate to send your first paragraph to our team of pros and we'll help you craft the best intro possible for your killer personal statement.