- Is this an interesting opening paragraph (with a strong thesis)? Or is a boring opening paragraph?
- What would make it a better opening paragraph?
- What do you think this paper is going to prove based on that opening paragraph?
- Is this an interesting concluding paragraph?
- Does it sum up the paper that this person wrote
- But does it also leave us with something new to think about (new but related to the essay you've just read)
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER AS YOU WRITE YOUR INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH: Think about what your Alum told you about their lives. Think about what your thesis is. Is there a story they told you--or a story they started to tell you that you could ask them for more info on--that feels like it could be a kind of metaphor, an example that illustrates all the different parts of the paper, that sort of suggests to a reader what you are going to try to prove in the rest of the paper.
Here is my fake introductory paragraph for the fake paper I've been writing for you:
When Jane Alumna was a little girl, she used to play nurse a lot. Her mom, who was also a nurse, would give her her old uniforms, and Jane would lay out stuff she found around the house--bandaids, cotton balls, the safety scissors from her craft box. Then she'd line up her Barbie dolls and her stuffed animals and admit them one by one into her bedroom--her pretend Doctor's office. She'd give them fake shots to immunize her stuffed rabbit from measles and wrap her Barbie's fake broken leg up in toilet paper and band aids. Sometimes Jane's older sister, who was in school at the time to become a nurse, would play with her too. Sometimes Jane played other things. She played softball with her friends and went swimming in her pool. She liked some of her brother's video games and she liked to pretend she was Jasmine from Aladdin sometimes too. Sometimes she even played school. She'd line up all those dolls she nursed back to health and she'd read to them and ask them questions about the story after. Next to playing nurse, reading was the thing that Jane loved to do most. But if you asked five year old Jane what she wanted to do when she grew up she would tell you: she wanted to be a mom, drive a car, and be a nurse. But when I asked 35 year old Jane where she ended up, only two out of those three things turned out to be right.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER AS YOU WRITE YOUR CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH: The worst part of the first paper was the closing paragraph. It's because pretty much all you did was repeat what you said in your introduction--sometimes almost word for word. A good closing paragraph should, yes, remind people about what you talked about, but also, it should bring your reader to a new place where they understand your thesis more fully and completely.
For this paper, you should consider what you learned from your alum. You should think about what you had in common with your alum and how what they said affected you. Remind us what your thesis is, but go someplace new.
Here is a sample conclusion to my fake paper.
I learned a lot from Jane from talking to her. I learned that it's OK to not know for sure what you want to do right away in college. I learned that it's OK to change your mind. I learned that its good to take the time to figure out what you really want to do in life and to go after it. Even though she didn't become a nurse, technically, Jane still takes very good care of the people in her life that she's been given to take care of: her family, her friends, and, of course, her students. "I could have never predicted how much I would love teaching, but now I wouldn't think of doing anything else. I love knowing that the work I'm doing with my students will help them to be healthy, happy people for the rest of their lives."And, like Jane, I feel like I could trust my friends and family to both help me make my own decisions about my life and career and to support me once I make it. Talking to Jane made me see how valuable that resource can be. In the end, Jane's life has turned out pretty well. She did, after all, become a mom to two great and crazy little boys, and she did learn to drive. So five year old Jane got a lot right--and so has 35 year old Jane.