University North Central Writing Center Handout
and Conclusions in Expository Writing
How Can I Get My Readers' Attention?
The opening sentence is somewhat like the introductory "tease" in a television commercial: both hope to attract people's attention so they will not turn away. Advertising writers may rely on such standard visual devices as ravishing girls, virile athletes, appealing children, or breathtaking scenery. Writers have none of these options, but they have others. By considering these other choices, you may find one that strikes your fancy if your own inspiration fails. Here are some possible attention-getting approaches, 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 sweatshirt, sometimes with beard, often with pipe, nearly always with a sack of books, who strides in late the first day of freshman class, is neither student nor 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 completely teachers, neither totally graduates nor totally assistants.
A short, dramatic statement
Beware of graduate teaching assistants.
The use of statistics
Most of the two million freshmen 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 the authors of The Writing Commitment. (In a footnote you would cite the source from which you took this quotation.)
A reference to a current event
The recent debate in the freshman dorm about graduate teaching assistants was almost as heated as the one at 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.
The conclusion of a paper serves two functions: it signals the end and leaves readers with something important to remember. The first is necessary for readers' sense of completeness, suggesting that they have just finished a well-planned, carefully conceived paper. The second is necessary for readers' sense of the subject, leaving them to think about what is important and appropriate. To fulfill both these functions in only a few sentences is no mean achievement.
Perhaps the first point to make is that the conclusion should not be long. Lingering good-byes may be enjoyable with a loved one, but they bore readers. In short papers, a conclusion may even be omitted when enumerating a series of reasons in climatic order, the most important being reserved for last. In other instances, about three or four well worded sentences should do the trick.
You may look either backward or forward in these concluding sentences. In looking backward, you may return to some metaphor or other motif in the introduction, restate the thesis, or in longer papers, summarize the main points. In looking forward, you may forecast the future, call for action, discuss implications, or point out the significance of the ideas. Here are some examples of these options.
Return to the introduction (the italicized words refer to a comparison made in the introduction).
Despite all these suggestions, finding a summer job may still be as difficult as locating an inexpensive apartment near campus. But at least you can be confident that you have gone about it efficiently and looked into all the possibilities. The rest is up to luck.
Restate the thesis
You can see that looking for a summer job need not be a hit-or-miss process. It can be conducted in a systematic, efficient manner that should produce results. Almost always, it will.
Summarize the main points (only on longer papers).
What is important is to start looking for a summer job early and to follow the specific suggestions noted here. You may not want to investigate all the possibilities - employers overseas, federal agencies, local or state governments, industries in other areas, and local businesses. But you should realize it is better to have too many opportunities than too few. That is why all these suggestions have been offered.
Forecast the future.
Despite these suggestions, you may not find summer work. The growing demand for these positions and the diminishing supply of them means that many young people will be unemployed. The result may be a return to the campus to attend summer sessions, which could double present enrollments. The end product might well be many three-year bachelor's degrees. That is what the future may hold.
Call for action
The important point to remember is to get started looking for that summer job today. You can write letters to federal agencies, check into local and state government possibilities, get a copy of the Summer Employment Directory, and follow the suggestions about seeking work in local businesses. Those who hesitate may be lost this summer.
The implications of these suggestions should be apparent. Summer jobs will be more difficult to find this year than last. You may wait for Lady Luck to smile upon you or roll up your sleeves and start searching for yourself. You may even decide to chuck the idea of getting a job and enroll in summer school.
Point out the significance of ideas
Perhaps what is more significant than these specific suggestions is that even such an undertaking as finding a summer job can be carefully researched and planned. Some people go through life haphazardly, meeting problems with hastily conceived, last-minute answers. Other people anticipate problems and study how to meet them. To do so is usually more rewarding.
The Writing Commitment, Adelstein & Pival