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Avoid These Common Mistakes: How to Start a College Essay with Style

How to Start a College Essay: Common Mistakes to AvoidStarting a college essay can be a daunting task. You want to grab the reader’s attention, make a memorable impression, and showcase your unique qualities.

However, there are several common mistakes that many students make when it comes to beginning their essays. In this article, we will explore these mistakes and provide you with tips on how to avoid them.

By the end, you will have a clear understanding of what not to do when starting your college essay. 1) Pulling out the dictionary:

One mistake that students often make is pulling out the dictionary and starting their essays with a definition.

While it may seem like a good idea to start with a strong and descriptive word, this approach can come across as forced and inauthentic. Instead, focus on telling a story or providing a personal anecdote that engages the reader and showcases your unique perspective.


Instead of starting with “Webster’s defines success as…”, try starting with a captivating story of how you overcame a challenge and achieved success. By sharing a personal experience, you will draw the reader in and make a stronger connection.

2) Choosing clichs:

Another common mistake is starting with a clich or overused phrase. This not only makes your essay appear unoriginal, but it can also bore the reader.

You want to stand out from the crowd and show your individuality, so it’s best to avoid clichs at all costs. Example:

Instead of starting with “The sky is the limit” or “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, try brainstorming unique and creative ways to express your ideas.

This will make your essay more interesting and memorable. 3) Beginning broadly:

Many students make the mistake of starting their essays with broad and general statements.

While it may seem like a good way to introduce your topic, it can actually leave the reader feeling confused and disconnected. It’s important to be specific and focused when starting your essay.


Instead of starting with a broad statement like “Education is important”, try starting with a specific example or personal experience that highlights the importance of education in your life. This will engage the reader and make your essay more relatable.

4) Leading with a quote:

Starting your essay with a quote may seem like a good way to grab the reader’s attention, but it can often backfire. Quotes can be overused and generic, and they may not provide enough context or relevance to your essay topic.


Instead of starting with a quote from a famous person, try starting with an interesting fact or statistic that relates to your essay topic. This will provide a strong foundation for your essay and set you apart from other applicants.

In conclusion, starting a college essay can be a challenging task, but by avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a strong and engaging introduction that captivates the reader. Remember to focus on telling a personal story, avoiding clichs, being specific and focused, and providing relevant context.

By following these tips, you will be well on your way to crafting an impactful and memorable college essay. Good luck!

How to Start a College Essay: The StyleWhen it comes to starting a college essay, the style you choose can greatly impact how your essay is received by the reader.

A well-crafted and engaging style can captivate the reader’s attention, make your essay memorable, and leave a lasting impact. In this article, we will delve into different stylistic approaches that can help you start your college essay in a compelling and effective way.

By utilizing storytelling, vivid descriptions, and your own unique voice, you can create a captivating introduction that will set the tone for the rest of your essay. 3) Share a story:

One of the most effective ways to start a college essay is by sharing a compelling story.

Stories have a way of captivating our attention, invoking emotions, and making information more relatable. By opening with a story, you immediately draw the reader into your narrative and create a personal connection.

To craft an engaging story, focus on a specific moment or event that is related to your essay topic. Set the scene, introduce the characters involved, and describe the conflict or challenge you faced.

By including dialogue, sensory descriptions, and emotions, you can bring your story to life and make it more impactful. Example:

Imagine starting your essay with a story about a time when you volunteered at a local animal shelter during the summer.

You can describe the sights and sounds of the shelter, the interactions with the animals, and the emotions you felt as you witnessed their resilience and the impact you made. This story not only showcases your compassion and empathy but also sets the tone for the rest of your essay.

4) Use vivid descriptions:

In addition to storytelling, using vivid descriptions can transport the reader into your world and make your essay more engaging. By employing sensory descriptions and concrete details, you can create a more immersive experience for the reader.

When describing a place or event, incorporate elements that appeal to the senses. Describe how things looked, felt, sounded, smelled, and even tasted.

This will make your writing more vivid and memorable. Example:

Instead of simply stating that you visited a beautiful beach, paint a picture with your words.

Describe the powdery white sand beneath your feet, the gentle caress of the ocean breeze on your skin, the rhythmic crashing of the waves, and the scent of salt in the air. By incorporating sensory details, you can transport the reader to that beach and make your essay come alive.

5) Use your own voice:

One mistake many students make when writing a college essay is trying to adopt a formal or impersonal tone. Your essay is an opportunity to showcase your personality, so it’s important to use your own authentic voice.

Write in a conversational tone, as if you were having a casual conversation with a friend. Avoid using overly complex or technical language that may alienate the reader.

Instead, use language that feels natural and authentic to you. Example:

Instead of using complicated and obscure vocabulary, opt for words and phrases that reflect your own unique voice.

Be yourself and let your personality shine through your writing. This will make your essay more relatable and memorable.


By employing a storytelling approach, using vivid descriptions, and using your own voice, you can start your college essay in a way that captivates the reader, brings your story to life, and showcases your unique personality. Remember to focus on crafting engaging stories, incorporating sensory details, and maintaining an authentic voice throughout your writing.

These stylistic choices will set your essay apart and make it a compelling read. Good luck as you embark on your college essay journey!

4) More Resources:

In addition to mastering the art of starting a college essay, it’s important to have resources that can assist you throughout the entire essay-writing process.

Here are a few additional resources to help you further:

– Supplemental essays: Many colleges require students to submit supplemental essays in addition to the main personal essay. These essays often focus on specific prompts or questions that allow you to showcase your interest in the college or address particular aspects of your background or aspirations.

Be sure to research the specific requirements for each college’s supplemental essays and tailor your responses accordingly. – How to end a college essay: Just as the start of your essay is crucial in captivating the reader, so is the ending.

While this article focuses on the introduction, it’s important to spend time crafting a satisfying conclusion as well. Your conclusion should tie together all the main ideas and leave the reader with a sense of closure.

It can also expand upon the broader implications of your story or offer a reflective statement. Take the time to carefully consider how you want your essay to conclude and make sure it leaves a positive and lasting impression.

In addition to these resources, there are a plethora of blog posts, websites, and writing guides available that provide further guidance and inspiration for writing your college essays. Take advantage of these resources to enhance your essay-writing skills and create impactful essays that truly reflect your unique qualities and aspirations.

Remember, starting a college essay is just the beginning of a journey that allows you to showcase your passions, strengths, and character. With careful planning, thoughtful execution, and a commitment to presenting your authentic self, you can create essays that captivate admissions officers and demonstrate why you are a perfect fit for their college or university.

Good luck!

In conclusion, starting a college essay with an engaging and effective style is crucial for capturing the reader’s attention and making a lasting impression. By using storytelling techniques, incorporating vivid descriptions, and embracing your own unique voice, you can create introductions that stand out among countless other essays.

Remember to avoid common mistakes such as relying on clichs or broad statements. Instead, focus on sharing personal stories, transporting the reader through sensory details, and allowing your authentic personality to shine through.

The style you choose sets the tone for your entire essay, making it essential to put thought and effort into crafting a compelling beginning. With these strategies, you can start your college essay on a strong note and increase your chances of standing out in the admissions process.

Happy writing!

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