How to Start a College Essay

If you are struggling to start your college essay then you have found the right place. By the end of this article, you will have your opening paragraph written, your thesis written (if required) and have a complete map of how you will structure your essay from start to finish. I am sure you will understand how to start a college essay.

Now if that doesn’t fill you with confidence I don’t know what will!

The Opening Paragraph

This is what will make or break your college essay. Your teacher will decide from just these few lines, whether or not your essay is worth reading and what kind of mark range you are looking at.
That is why it is so important to capture their attention from the get go. No BS’ing around, just a fantastic opening to your essay that you can be proud of. We all know you can’t judge a book by its cover, yet we still do.

Essays are no different. In fact I would say the only difference is that your teacher will also use the essay title as a ‘temperature check’ as to how good an essay they are about to read.
So essentially you have about 2/3 minutes to convince them that your college essay is the nuts. So it’s essential you spend a lot of your time on this opening essay paragraph.

Tips for Starting your College Essay

1. Don’t start at the beginning – This is often the hardest place to start. I know it’s contrary to what I have written above about spending a lot of time at the start of your essay, but if you are really struggling just start writing anywhere.
This could be in the middle or at the end of your essay. If you already have an idea of what your conclusion will be, start there. You will find that you quickly get into the flow of things once you just start writing.
So stop procrastinating and start writing.

2. Use a Mind Map – Using a mind map can be an extremely helpful tool to get you started in your essay. Essentially a Mind Map is a collection of thoughts that you join together to form a plan of action.
It can be as simple as having a start middle and an end. Or you can get more complex and have subsections that add more meat around the bones of your essay. Whichever way you do it, you will find it a heck of a lot easier if you pre-plan your essay with a Mind Map.
You can find a free online tool at, where you can create a free account and even save your Mind Maps (or brain dumps) in real time and revisit them later.

How to Start a College Essay – Trumphuts.com3. Quote someone famous – By using quotations, you are instantly given a pathway to follow and a core topic to write about. You can include your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree and even discuss your arguments for and against said quote.
Beware with this one however as your fellow students will use it often, and quite frankly it has been done to death. It is very hard to come up with a quotation that has not been used over and over again, and from a figure which your teacher would have even heard of!
Read the tip below for my own spin on this that really commands the reader’s attention.

4. Quote someone famous (with a twist) – This is the same as above however I like to make a statement after the quotation along the lines of;
“What I think X is trying to say here is that [insert some clever/whitty line]”
“What I think X is really saying here is [insert some clever/whitty line]”
I find this is great for making the reader pay attention and it shows that you have your own mind and that you really understand what you are writing about. Displaying these qualities can only increase the credibility of your work and is one of the best ways I know for when understanding how to start a college essay.