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Strong Conclusions: College Admissions Essay Help (page 2)

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Updated on Dec 8, 2010

End your application essay memorably. As with your introduction, you want your conclusion to both stand out and work as an integral part of your essay. Here are three important conclusion pitfalls to avoid:

  • Answering the big questions. If you wrote about a topic such as world peace or a personal tragedy, resist the temptation to give reasons or solutions. You don't need to explain the nature of evil in the world, or how hunger can be stopped.
  • Using clichés. Many essays end with therefore, in conclusion, or in summary. Save transition words to help you make connections in the body of your essay, and end your essay in your own voice, using fresh words and phrases.
  • Summarizing your essay. This is the biggest blunder—your essay is short enough that you can expect your reader to remember what you wrote a few paragraphs ago. Summaries are boring, and waste an opportunity to leave your reader with something memorable. Instead, you want your conclusion to echo the dynamic start of your essay. How can you achieve that? Consider the following strategies.
  • Continue your essay's discussion. Propose where it might lead, what it might mean to future generations, and how it might be resolved.
  • Make sense of what happened. If you told a story that would benefit from an explanation of what it means to you in larger terms, take a few sentences to explain. What did you learn? How will you benefit from the experience?
  • Connect your content with the desire for a college education. What does your essay say about your decision to apply to a specific college?
  • Echo—but don't repeat—your introduction. This helps to provide balance. Use some of the same words, phrases, or ideas mentioned in your first paragraph.
  • Bring the reader to the present day. This works especially well if you wrote about something that happened in your past. What does it say about who you are now? How has it influenced the plans you are making for the future?
  • If it works, end with a famous quote. Be certain the quote substantiates what you've written, and speaks obviously and poignantly on your topic.
  • Link your discussion to a wider context. For example, your weeklong hands-on experience with a small group of migrant farm workers could conclude with a paragraph on the nature of the issues they face.

Endings that Work

The author of the essay found on page 108 concludes by making sense of what happened. She explains what she takes away from the events described in the essay.

Friday afternoon. I am on my way home, staring out the car window, seeing yet not seeing the trees rush by. As I reflect hack on the past few days, I realize that I have grown. There is a strength within me that held firm through a pair of difficult events that came to me simultaneously. I can call on that strength when I need it in the future, as I continue to strive for success.

In the conclusion to her essay, the writer continues her discussion. She expands the lesson about familiar landscapes to encompass those that are unfamiliar or as yet unmade.

Wessels has not only permitted me to read the forested landscape at home, to constantly observe and note details of familiar woods to give me a story, but he has also allowed me to question the lands I've never been to before, and let me imagine and speculate vast forests of the future, places that have never been, and may never be, save for the realm of imagination.
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