First Lines for Application Essays

In our University Consulting division, one of the most common questions we are asked when a student is applying to university is “How should my personal statement begin?”. This is a tough question to answer. The first statement needs to combine being personal and grabbing the reader’s attention yet make sure it doesn’t sound like a tabloid newspaper headline.

This week when we came across a Stanford Magazine article which details some of Standford’s undergraduate admissions staff’s favourite opening lines. It’s important to remember that the tone and focus of application essays can be different for different countries, but that doesn’t mean these aren’t great fun to read and wonder what happened next . Here is a taster:

Sitting cross-legged on the floor of a Bhimanager slum dwelling in Bangalore, I ran my fingers across a fresh cut on my forehead.


Cancer tried to defeat me, and it failed


Some fathers might disapprove of their children handling noxious chemicals in the garage.


On a hot Hollywood evening, I sat on a bike, sweltering in a winter coat and furry boots.

If you enjoyed those, do see more of them here on Medium.



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