For my college application essay, I would like to write on the topic of music. Music decribes who I am, and my taste in music describes how I act in society. My question is, how can I start this essay? What would be a good thesis sentence?

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The most important thing to keep in mind when you're writing a college application essay is that everything about it represents you to people who don't know you. It should sound like you (be written in your voice), it should reflect you (tell them something about yourself that the application...

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The most important thing to keep in mind when you're writing a college application essay is that everything about it represents you to people who don't know you. It should sound like you (be written in your voice), it should reflect you (tell them something about yourself that the application committee does not already know), and it should represent your best you (no grammar/mechanical errors).

You do not mention a specific question you're answering, so I assume there are no parameters on this essay. In one way, this is rather intimidating; in another, it is quite liberating, as it gives you the freedom to write virtually anything. 

It is not enough to suggest that music describes you or to describe your taste in music. The more important issue is what music, or your taste in music, actually says about you. For example, if music inspires you, what does it inspire you to? What does liking a certain types of music say about you? In other words, you have to make certain you talk less about the actual music and more about how the music embodies who you are.

I'm glad you're thinking about a thesis statement, as that will give you some clear guidance as you write. Obviously I don't know you or exactly how music is part of your life (and I really don't know what you mean by "music describes how I act in society"), but take these ideas and create a strong statement that suits what you want to say. Here are a few choices with which you might begin a thesis statement:

  • Music inspires me to...
  • My music reflects my personality because...
  • I use music to help me...
  • It is music that symbolizes who I am, including...

Notice that, in each of these examples, the focus is on you; the music is simply a way to explain who you are, what you do, or how you think. There are obviously plenty of other possibilities, but these should get you thinking, anyway. Add two or three clear and specific points to the sentence and you will have told your readers exactly what you want them to know about you. Then you can go on to add the details that will support your thesis.

Your introduction should be interesting, of course, and the thesis sentence will probably fit best toward the end of your intro. Remember that the goal is to share things about yourself which are not necessarily on your transcripts and which will compel the selection committee to want you on their campus.

Speak in your own voice; your writing should sound like your "best" you and not like it is something anyone could have written. The eNotes site (attached below) offers one final piece of advice:

Get many different people to read your essay and share their thoughts. To make sure that you are expressing the most important points, ask each reader for his or her impression about what you were trying to prove. Listen carefully to everyone’s opinions—but trust yourself in the end. 

Again, as you think about your interest in music, ask yourself what your musical taste says about you, not just what your taste in music is. If your essay does not say anything about you, the essay has failed. If it reveals who you are to whoever reads it, the essay is a success. Happy writing!

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