Monday Morning Essay Tip: Opening with a Famous Quote

Beginning an essay with a famous or eloquent quotation is a common practice and one that business school candidates can use to capture a reader’s attention. For example, an applicant might use a quotation as the very first line of his or her essay:

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt’s words are as true today as when he spoke them. The essence of a manager is…

Another option is to embed the quotation within the first line of the essay, as shown in the following example:

As Peter F. Drucker said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” I have found the distinction between management and leadership especially important…

There is really only one rule about using quotations: do not overdo it! One grand quotation per application (not per essay!) is sufficient—but it is certainly not mandatory. When deciding whether to include a quotation in one of your essays, consider the following:

• Does the quotation fit the essay’s main theme?
• Does the quotation reflect who you are or what you believe?
• Does the quotation enhance the essay?

If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, making the quotation a part of your narrative just might be a good idea.

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