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Starting A College Essay With A Quote

Starting a College Essay with a Quote

Is starting a college essay with a quote wrong? I would say no! It is perfectly fine to start a college essay with a quote provided it fits really well into your essay. This article gives you some insights on how to start a college essay with a quote.

Finding that perfect quote

Avoid using oft-repeated quotes. It will bore your readers thoroughly and many will not even read further

Find a quote that can surprise your audience. It could be said by someone who is least expected to say such a thing or use a quote and then choose to contradict it. Essentially, you must try to create a surprise element for your reader.

Make sure the context of the quote is in sync with the context of your essay. An unrelated quote reflects poorly on your writing skills.

Find that quote will strike a chord in your readers' hearts. This means you have to know your target audience well. Think whether your readers will know the author of the quote well or do you need to provide some additional details of his or her background. Unless you want to contradict it, do NOT use a quote that can offend your audience.

Spend a little time to find a quote that will get the focus of your readers immediately.

Quote correctly

Introduce the quote in the correct manner and make sure you mention the name of the author. A good way to introduce a quote is: John F Kennedy once made a profoundly patriotic statement. He said, "Ask not what your country can do for you: ask what you can do for your country."

Make sure your punctuations are right. Put the direct quote within quotation marks. If you are paraphrasing it, then you need not use quotation marks, but you have to mention the name of the author.

Make sure you have researched the quote from credible sources. Do not use quotes without ensuring that the person actually said it.

Avoid misinterpreting the quote to suit your needs. If you do so, you will be guilty of academic dishonesty.

Provide the context of the quote. In the above example of John F Kennedy's quote, you can clearly understand the context under discussion is patriotism.

If it is a long quote (more than 4 lines), you can make an entire paragraph with and block it so that it attracts the attention of the reader.

Verbs/Phrases to introduce your quotation

Instead of simply saying "X said this" or "Y said that," you can use different verbs and phrases to introduce your quotes depending on the nature and tone of the quote. Each word or phrase has its own nuance and if used correctly will let the reader know what tone your essay is going to take. Here are some of the verbs and phrases to introduce quotes:

  • Maintains

  • Argues

  • Writes

  • States

  • Claims

  • Suggests

  • Insists

  • Demonstrates

  • Points out

  • Observes

  • Concludes

  • Explains

  • Counters

  • Comments

  • Asserts

  • Notes

  • Reveals

Quotes to avoid in your college essay

Meanings of words taken from dictionaries are to be avoided. Nothing is more frustrating for a reader to learn the definition of a word from you. Other than the fact that such beginnings are dry and uninteresting, using dictionary definitions convey your disinterest in writing the essay. It seems to say to the reader that you simply were not keen on finding out more.

Avoid using clichés in the form of quotes. Examples of these avoidable clichés include:

  • "Man has been at war since the dawn of time."

  • "War kills millions of people and ruins more."

Everybody knows this, so do not use them in your college essays. Your teachers will immediately mark your grade lower even if the content after the quote is above average.

While starting your essay with a surprise quote is fine, avoid using too many of them in your essay. Your essay should reflect your feelings, experiences, and learning. Filling it with quotes of other people gets across a message that either you are disinterested or you do not know anything. Neither of these reasons is good for your grades.

Final Notes

A college essay reflects not just your understanding of the subject but also your presentation, writing, and convincing skills. Great and relevant quotes can add immense value to your essay and clichés and irrelevant quotes can significantly diminish the value of your essay.

Hence, you must be prudent and sensible in choosing your quotations for your college essay. I would advise you to refrain from using a quote if there is even the slightest doubt that it may not fit in.

Our experts at Prescott Papers will be very happy to assist you in writing your college essays or any other academic writing creations.

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