Application essays --> Guided brainstorming exercises --> Sample introductions

Sample Introductions for Application Essays and Personal Statements


As you read the examples below, remember that different types of applications require different approaches. If, for example, your essay requires a clear and concise statement of your experience and professional goals, a straightforward introduction would be very appropriate (see Example #1).

For some applications, you may have a particular question to answer. In such cases, your introduction should be responsive to the question at hand (see Example #2).

When appropriate, a creative approach can also be quite effective, provided that its relevance to your career choice is clear and that you are able to use it to communicate essential information about yourself (see Example #3).

If possible, read examples of successful essays for your particular field and seek feedback from those knowledgeable about your chosen field.


Example #1 (Graduate study in the sciences)

The application prompt: Tell us why you want to pursue an advanced degree in this field and what has prepared you for such a course of study.

     I wish to enroll in the Environmental Toxicology

doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

in order to pursue my interests in the mechanisms of

neurotoxicology and the impact of chemicals on the

environment. My undergraduate course work, research

experience, and exposure to environmental negligence

while living abroad have all contributed to my interest

and preparation for graduate study in Environmental

Toxicology.

In this very straightfoward introduction, the applicant clearly identifies her particular interest in the field and introduces the main points of her essay.


Example #2 (Medical school application)

The Application Prompt: Describe some people who have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine.

     My high school sociology teacher gave my class an 

unusual project one week. Mr. R-- asked our class to write 

an obituary in the manner that we wished to be remembered 

by our peers. Mine started like this: "Dr. T-- G-- passed 

away one week ago today. He was a physician who cared, 

knew all of his patients by their first name and never 

thought a question was either too small or too trivial..."

In actuality, I could use this excerpt to describe my 

pediatrician, Dr. G-- S--. The picture of medicine he 

painted inspired me to look further into the science 

field and the rewards that a career in medicine offered. 

Others like Dr. Ortwein influenced and reinforced my 

decision to select a career in medicine.

In this introduction, the applicant has found a creative way to introduce people who have influenced him. He has also included enough detail to indicate right from the start why they have been influential.


Example #3 (Veternarian School Application)

The Application Prompt: Your personal statement should help the admissions committee learn something about you as a person, about the development of your interest in veterinary medicine and about your career goals.

     Up to your eyeballs in alligators takes on new meaning

when you work at the Emergency Clinic for Animals (ECA).

It was a typical Sunday afternoon and the waiting room was

full with a variety of pets and their owners, including an

iguana, a hamster, and an assortment of cats and dogs. One of

the dog owners brought along two small children who were busy

inspecting all of the pets in the waiting area. Working as a

veterinarian assistant, it was my responsibility to admit new

patients and discharge animals well enough to go home. As a

veteran Registered Nurse of 18 years this scene was not unlike

thousand that I had encountered in my nursing career, with of

course the addition of animals. And what a wonderful addition

they make.  On this day a very fragile 16-year-old kitty, Morris,

was to go home, but would require a lot of supportive care.

In this introduction, the applicant's use of description helps to convey information about her interest in veterinary medicine as well as something about her personality. Rather than say that she's interested and has experience, she shows it by painting an affectionate and thoughtful picture of the waiting room. At the same time, she provides valuable facts about her background as a nurse and her position as a veterinarian assistant along the way.