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Students Ask: “Is it bad to start a college essay with a paragraph that is really short?”

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cropprinterQ: Would it be bad to start with a two-sentence paragraph? All the rest of my paragraphs are normal length.

A: When it comes to the college admissions essay, capturing the attention of an admissions officer can be difficult, and an opening paragraph that challenges traditional writing conventions can be an effective way to stand out. That said, students shouldn’t break the rules without good reason. What does this short paragraph accomplish? Does it ask a striking question? Does it entice the reader into wanting to learn more? Would a third sentence (three is usually the least it takes to craft a solid paragraph) actually enhance the rhythm and value of the first two statements? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask yourself before committing to a two sentence opener. Risks in writing do have rewards, but only if there is logic and impact to back up those choices.

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