Introduction Choices

  • Anecdote
  • Description
  • Quotation
  • Allusion
  • Startling Statement

Samples from Odessa College's English Department:

The following are sample introductions for the following thesis: A good education is one that engenders curiosity, rewards intellectual risk-taking, and leaves a person wanting to learn more. Before each intro is a brief description of the type of lead-in used.

    • Anecdote: tell a short story to capture the reader's interest;
    • One time in elementary school, I showed my grandpa a history test that I'd made a 100 on. It was four pages of fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and true-false questions. I was very proud of myself and expected him to be as well. He studied the test, leaning his head back so that he could bring it into focus through his bifocals, which always slid down on his nose. "Hmm, hmm," he grunted, and then he adjusted his glasses so that he could study me. Finally, he said, "So, who was this Paul Revere?" I took the test back from him and found the multiple choice question about him, the one where I'd marked, "warned the colonists that the British were coming" and pointed to it. He shook his head a little impatiently and said, "But who was he? Why was he important? What was he all about?" I couldn't imagine what else he wanted to know past what I'd already told him. Then he invited me up onto the sofa beside him, and told me about Paul Revere, Nathan Hale, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as though they were old friends of his. He made the American Revolution come alive for me, and I know for a fact that he never made a 100 on a history test. He didn't even pass sixth grade, but he had, over the years, figured out how to give himself a good education. He may not have had the paperwork to prove it, but he was one of the best educated people I've ever known. He taught me through example that a good education is one that engenders curiosity, rewards intellectual risk-taking, and leaves a person wanting to learn more.

    • Description: Describe a relevant person or scene or event;
    • The kid stayed up late the night before, desperately going over notes, reviewing chapters, memorizing facts off of note cards. But now, he knows it was too little too late. All the information he'd stuffed into his brain the night before has retreated to some inner room in his cerebellum--he knows it's there, but it's not coming out. One or two questions seem answerable, but he knows at the end of the test that he's failed, and he feels like a failure. The bad grade he gets back on that test a few days later doesn't make him want to study harder; it makes him want to give up. Whereas he might have been eager to learn when he was little, his education has done almost nothing but make him feel bad about himself. Learning is not fun for this kid, and as a result, he doesn't do it well. (end of lead-in) Has the student failed the class or has the class failed the student? For too many people, school is a chore, a drudgery, a punishment. But it shouldn't be that way. A good education ought to engender curiosity, it should reward people for taking intellectual chances, and, most importantly, it should leave a person wanting to learn more.

    • Quotation: Begin your essay with something someone else has said. The "someone else" can be famous or not--the point is to have a memorable or interest-grabbing quotation;
    • Mick Jagger tells us that we can't always get what we want, but "if we try sometime, we just might find we get what we need." As modern Americans, we spend a tremendous amount of our lives, especially our early lives, in a classroom, pursuing some kind of formal education, from a high school diploma through as many college degrees as a person has time, energy and money for. But ironically, I'm not sure that the best education comes in the classroom, through formal schooling. Sometimes we find a true learning experiences inside the four walls of a classroom, but it's important to determine what constitutes a good education so that a person can find one whenever the opportunity arises. A good education is one that engenders curiosity, rewards intellectual risk-taking, and leaves a person wanting to learn more.

    • Allusion: You can reference something in literature, history, current events, or popular culture.
    • Everyone remembers the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the man in the horn-rimmed glasses, droning, "Anyone? Anyone?" as he unconvincingly tries to get a comatose group of high school kids to answer his questions about American history. Some of the kids are gazing straight ahead, with dazed looks on their faces, while others are doodling in notebooks, staring out the window, or asleep on their desks, with drool puddling out the corners of their mouths. This scene is funny because it feels so true. We've all been trapped in classes like this one, where no one--teacher or students alike--wants to be there. But that's not how education should be. Learning should be fun and fulfilling, and a good education should energize those involved. Whether it takes place in a classroom or not, a good education is one that engenders curiosity, rewards intellectual risk-taking and leaves a person wanting to learn more.

    • Startling Statement: If you can think of an interesting fact or statement that will make people curious to learn more, that's a good way to begin an essay.
    • A person goes to school for seven hours a day, five days a week, thirty-six weeks out of the year for thirteen years. By the time, an average person graduates high school, he's been in a classroom for over 16,000 hours of his life. No wonder that by the time most people get to college, they're burned out with just enough energy to take the courses for whatever job they hope to get once they've gotten their degree. It's a rare college student who gets excited about learning; most of them just want to know the minimum they have to do to get the grade they want. It's an alien thought to most that they might take a class just because they're curious about the subject-matter, just because they think it would be fun. But learning can and should be fun and rewarding, and an education--if it's any good--should not be restricted to a formal classroom. A good education should engender curiosity, reward intellectual risk-taking, and leave a person wanting to learn more.