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Interesting Introductions

In the Writing Center, we have seen countless papers that begin with a sentence like this: "Abortion is one of the most controversial topics in America today." What a sleeper! As a writer, you should pay close attention to your first few sentences because they have the power to pique your readers' interest and encourage them to keep reading; unfortunately, they can also make your readers yawn and toss the paper aside. Below are some suggestions for attention-getting introductions, with examples about graduate teaching assistants.

A Controversial Statement: Some students swear that graduate teaching assistants are inexperienced, ignorant, and uninteresting; others insist that they are enthusiastic, friendly, and inspiring. 

An Element of Surprise: That slightly older dude, garbed in jeans and a sweatshirt, sometimes with a beard, often with a pipe, nearly always with a sack of books, is neither a student nor a professor, but a peculiar species known as a graduate teaching assistant.

A Note of Contradiction: Graduate teaching assistants are neither fish nor fowl, neither completely students nor teachers, neither really graduates nor assistants.

A Short, Dramatic Statement: Beware of graduate teaching assistants.

The Use of Statistics: Most of the two million freshman entering colleges and universities this fall will be instructed by graduate teaching assistants.

A Figure of Speech (Simile or Metaphor): A graduate teaching assistant is like a pilot on a new route: each is capable, but each is unfamiliar with the course.

The Use of a Quotation: "Although they are inexperienced, most graduate teaching assistants are generally effective instructors because they relate well to their students." state Adelstein and Pival in their book The Writing Commitment.*

A Reference to a Current Event: The recent debate in the freshman dorm about graduate teaching assistants was almost as heated as the one in the United Nations about the Middle East.

Proof of your Authority: Having had seven graduate teaching assistants in my first two semesters at college, I feel well qualified to discuss their strengths and weaknesses.

*Taken from The Writing Commitment by Adelstein and Pival










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