How to Write a Perfect Hook for Your Application Essay

Hook on a piece of wood.

Flickr user LongitudeLatitude

Did you know admission officers might read around 50 essays per day during the application season? 

A college application essay is not about your grades and scores, but your personality and who you are beyond school activities. You need to breathe life into it. Drawing attention to your writing, as well as making officers read it, should be your #1 priority.

And this is why essay hooks exist.

They are the first 1-2 sentences of your introduction, aimed at grabbing a reader’s interest. To stand out from the crowd of other applicants, begin writing a college essay with a captivating opening line.

But how do you do that? How do you make a perfect hook to make your essay stand out among the other 49?

Write Metaphors

Make your essay sound beautiful from the jump. Similes or metaphors in the introduction would signal that you are a great author whose works are interesting to read. Certainly, any stylistic devices you use should be relevant and non-plagiarized/paraphrased.

Example:

America’s elephant in the room is the high rate of poverty.

Add Anecdotes

This hook doesn’t fit all academic papers, but don’t be afraid of implementing it in your personal application essay. A humorous start grabs a reader’s interest, but it doesn’t mean your entire work should be comedic.

Example:

It was Christmas of 1995 when my parents taught me a valuable lesson: always expect the unexpected.

Give Interesting Facts

Such hooks surprise readers with something they might not have known. Provide a definition or fact related to the topic or arguments you are going to discuss in your essay, and that will make people want to keep on reading and learn more.

Example:

Ancient Egyptians used heavy eye makeup to keep evil spirits at bay.

Ask Questions

Rhetorical or not, questions attract interest better than anything: they make people think, wonder and continue reading your essay with the hope to find answers. That is why, if you decide to use a question as a hook, make sure to come up with the one engaging critical thinking rather than simple yes-or-no answers.

Example:

What would you do if you could play God for a day? That’s exactly what I tried to answer.

Reveal Common Misconceptions

Your essay should provide admission officers with new information. A perfect hook would be taking a common fact and demonstrating its false in relation to you. Needless to say, they will be willing to continue reading your essay to find out the details.

Example:

While most fitness enthusiasts would tell that it’s fine to drink 1.5-2 liters of water daily, I know they are wrong. Six is my minimum.

Start with Quotations

You can use two types of quotes here: literary citations and inspirational quotes from famous people or influencers in the field. A literary quote would be a perfect hook for your application essay, while quoting influencers helps to support an argument you represent in your paper. But make sure the quote is relevant to the topic.

Example:

When Hillary Clinton said “We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society,” she inspired me to start volunteering my time to help others.

Warning!

Some teachers consider this type of essay hooks too cliche and overused. They discourage essays started or finished with words of influencers, not students themselves. So, if you decide to use such hook, find a rare yet relevant quote. Don’t copy-paste the first available saying from a motivational quote website.

Add Statistics

Numbers and facts are powerful essay hooks because they demonstrate your awareness on the subject. When reading facts from the jump of your paper, the audience assumes that the entire essay will be well-researched and fact-based. Statistics give tone and set the style to the whole document.

Example:

70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies.

Final Words

Sure, a lip-smacking opening doesn’t make your application essay a masterpiece at once. It grabs attention and creates the first impression about your writing, it makes admission officers decide whether your essay is going to be interesting to read, and it highlights your voice as well as personality.

But to nail down a success, make sure your essay is personal, structured, well-written, and proofread. Check if it includes specific details and examples highlighting who you are, don’t make it sound too formal, and avoid vague language to not make officers get bored while reading it.

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