Various types of introductions for essays

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  1. Begin with a general subject that can be narrowed down into the specific topic of the essay.

Students face all kinds of problems when they start college. Some students struggle with a lack of basic math skills; others have never learned how to write a term paper. Students who were stars in high school have to cope with being just another number in the student population. Students with children have to find a way to be good parents and good students, too. Although all of these problems are common, I found an even more typical conflict. My biggest problem in college was learning to organize my time.

  1. Begin with a quotation (not necessarily from a famous person) that leads into your topic.

Everybody has heard the old saying, “Time flies,” but I never really thought about that statement until I started college. I expected college to challenge me with demanding course work. I expected it to surprise me with the wide range of people I would meet. I expected it to excite me with the fun and intrigue of dating and romance. But I never expected college to exhaust me. I was surprised to discover that my biggest problem in college was learning to organize my time.
3. Begin with a story that leads into your topic. This could be a personal anecdote told in first person, or even a fictional anecdote told in third person.

My friend Phyllis is two years older than I am, so she started college before I did. When Phyllis came home from college for the Thanksgiving holidays, I had a long list of activities planned for her to enjoy. I was surprised when Phyllis wanted to sleep late every day. I did not understand when she told me she was worn out. However, when I started college myself, I understood her perfectly. Phyllis was a victim of an old college ailment: not knowing how to handle time. When I started to college, I developed the same problem; I had to learn how to organize my time.

4. Begin by explaining why this topic is important.

I dozed off during most of my freshman orientation, and now I wish I had paid attention. I am sure somebody somewhere warned me about the problems I would face in college. I am sure somebody talked about getting organized. Unfortunately, I did not listen, and I had to learn the hard way. I hope other students will listen and learn from my mistake. My biggest problem in college was learning to organize my time.

5. Begin by raising a question (or several questions) to lead into your topic.

Have you ever stayed up all night to study for an exam, then fallen asleep and slept through the exam? If you have, then you may be the same kind of college student I was. This kind of student always runs into class three minutes late, begs for an extension on the term paper, and pleads with the teacher to postpone the test. I just could not get things done on schedule. My biggest problem in college was learning to organize my time.

Other possibilities:

6. Begin with a definition.

7. Create an analogy.

8. Give background information, particularly facts and statistics.

9. Present a common perception or stereotype and then challenge it with your thesis statement.
Adapted from various introduction examples by Dr. Teri Maddox (Jackson State Community College) and various introduction approaches by Andrea Franckowiak (Dyersburg State Community College). Revised 25 January 2010 by M. T. Clark.

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