Leading the Way
Closing Your Case
Beginnings and endings can be the most challenging part of crafting any piece of writing and, in many ways, the most important. Part of the reason that they are so difficult is that writers tend to worry about them too much. There is so much hype on the necessity of thoroughly introducing the subject and ending with sharply drawn conclusions that anxious essayists compensate by going overboard. They feel that in order to appear mature and worldly their essays must contain profound insights and sweeping observations.
Do not fall into this trap! One of the biggest complaints that our admissions officers had were essayists who tried to say and do too much in their introductions. "Just tell the story!" was repeated like a mantra in response to essayists who were trying too hard to impress. Many of these essays (not included in this book) would have been vastly improved had they simply removed their introductions altogether.
Do yourself a favor and forget about beginnings and endings during the first stages of writing. Just dive straight into the body of the text without bothering to introduce your themes or set the scene. The reason this technique works is that when you have finished writing the rest of your rough draft, you may discover that you dont need an introduction at all. But isnt that risky? Maybe. But believe it or not, more essays have been ruined by forced and unnecessary introductions than have been ruined by the lack of one. Largely this is because of the misconception of what an introduction is supposed to accomplish.
This is especially true if you are basing your essay around a story. It might feel risky or uncomfortable just letting the story stand on its own without being introduced first, but beginning with action is always a good idea as long as the action is tied closely into the points you are trying to make throughout the rest of the essay.
Leading the Way
The most important part of any beginning is, of course, the lead. Leads play the dual role of setting the theme of your essay and engaging the reader. The introduction should not be overly formal or stilted. You do not want an admissions officer to start reading your essay and think, "here we go again." Although admissions officers will try to give the entire essay a fair reading, they are only human - if you lose them after the first sentence the rest of your essay will not get the attention it deserves.
Just as you should not worry about your introduction until you have gotten an initial draft on paper, you should not begin by writing your lead unless you are feeling inspired about a particular line. Often, you will spot a good one floating around in the middle of your first draft of the essay, so dont waste time worrying about it until you have the bulk of your essay on paper.
There are many different kinds of effective leads. All of the examples below were taken from the essays in our database.
Closing Your Case
The final sentence or two of your essay is also critical. It must finish your thought or assertion, and it is an important part of creating a positive and memorable image. Endings are the last experience an admissions officer has with your essay, so you need to make those words and thoughts count. A standard close merely summarizes the main points you have made.
Some examples of standard closes include:
But most of all, I know that for me to bring meaning to the years of instruction my professors and textbooks have given me, I must give back to the community. I have chosen to do that by becoming a dentist.
As a lifelong commitment to society, the medical profession most completely encompasses my career goals and moral values.
In the future, I see myself as the pedodontist whose office will be filled with excited children who climb into my chair feeling as comfortable as I always did in my father's.
Reminiscing about how M. pulled the browned marshmallow from his chopstick, I am thankful to my campers and students, their families, and my friends for helping me to affirm that this is the path I wish my life to follow.
If you have introduced a clever or unusual thought in the first paragraph, try referring back to it in your conclusion. The aim is for the admissions officer to leave your essay thinking, "That was a satisfying read," and "I wish there were more."
One essayist, for example, closes with:
"The once bewildered seven-year-old at the scene of an accident now has the skills and maturity to do more than change diapers; she aspires to read the film of the broken humerus or to set the cast someday soon."
This writers reference to the bewildered seven-year-old relates back to her opening story about a car accident from her youth. This stylistic touch wraps the essay up nicely and shows that time was spent in planning and structuring.
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