Lesson Five: Intros and Conclusions

In the Graduate Statement Themes section, we touched on some of the purposes of the introduction and conclusion. Specifically, we discussed how an introduction can orient the reader to the ideas the essay will undertake, and, more briefly, how the conclusion can be useful in synthesizing those ideas. At that point, we were most concerned about the coherence of your essay's structure.

In this section, our focus is slightly narrower for the introduction and broader for the conclusion. That is, having covered one of the two major aspects of the introduction already, we will now focus on the other: how to draw in the reader. Conversely, since we have not yet covered the conclusion in depth, we will focus here on defining its purpose and offering tips on how to achieve that purpose.

EssayEdge Extra: Opening With a Quotation

There is no approach more hackneyed than opening with a quotation. The ones we see at EssayEdge are almost always just marginally clever expressions of the most obvious lessons about hard work, persistence, and fulfilling one's dreams—often barely relevant to the rest of the essay. Occasionally, someone will find a quote that's worth a pause, but even then the reader will not be impressed. The very sight of quotation marks at the beginning of your essay may very well elicit a cringe or a sigh.

The admissions committee is far more interested in hearing what you have to say. If you happen upon a fascinating or pithy quotation by another person, using it will not make your case for admission any more compelling. In fact, an impatient reader might simply write you off as unoriginal. Additionally, quoting a philosopher or Shakespeare will not make you appear well-read, because anyone can open Bartlett's Familiar Quotations to find something that appears intelligent and insightful.

Finally, even quoting your grandmother or some other wise relative has been overdone. This is not to say that you shouldn't use dialogue if you're describing a particular episode, but anything that sounds like an aphorism will only make your essay seem trite, no matter how perfectly it sums up your theme.

Next: Introductions

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