how to conclude a college essay
So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they’ve finished the essay.
- Don’t simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long–more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like “in conclusion,” “to conclude,” “in summary,” and “to sum up.” These phrases can be useful–even welcome–in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You’ll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you’ve immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you’ve finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you’ve produced. (And if you haven’t immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don’t undercut your authority by saying things like, “this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . .”
Try new things. Edit and tweak. Don’t stop until your ending gives you the chills.
Tying up your story this way showcases advance writerly ability and often has a poetic effect.
Last Friday we worked on how to identify your Pivot , the key moment or climax of your college essay, as the first step to make sure your essay meets the three requirements of the form: that your college essay needs to be short and energetic, and reveal your character.
4. Go full circle.
For example if you’re writing about auditioning for a school play and being turned down, write what you’ve learned from this and either how you won the audition this year through determination and perseverance or how you’re going to continue to strive for that acting part in the next few months.
If it’s possible (and it may not be) leave your reader with a thought provoking question about the future.
Ending your essay by neatly tying up all the different themes, story lines and characters that you’ve introduced will give the reader a satisfying sense of completion, as well as a strong feeling of confidence in your writing skills. Leave no questions unanswered, complete all anecdotes, and most importantly, keep the tone upbeat.
With this technique, you disclose a significant piece of information, or a part of yourself, that you haven’t revealed in the body of the essay. In an essay about your inspiring first coach, it might go something like, “Coach Jane passed away last year and now, every time I get a new pair of tennis shoes, I write her initials on the inside. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think it helps me play better.” This approach can help tie together earlier parts of the essay and also be very dramatic, which is always a positive.