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How to End Your College Application Essay

a young student writes her college essay on her laptop

Your essay is one of the most essential parts of your college application. It's your chance to tell your story, using your unique voice to showcase your personality, achievements, and goals. And arguably, the ending of your essay is the most important part of it all. It's your last chance to make an impact and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

In this article, we’ll look at some do's and don’ts for ending your essay and give you five simple but effective techniques you can use to wrap things up. All right, enough chatter. On to the good stuff.

How to End a College Essay

The following tips were shared by a professional writer and approved by an English teacher, so you're in good hands.

  • End Your Essay with Dialogue

Did someone congratulate you, tell you good job, or thank you? Did you finally speak up or get something done? Please put it in dialogue. It’s a powerful way to end an essay. It’s an alternative to the “I learned…” essay ending we discussed earlier.

So, you learned never to give up?

“Hey, mom,” I said into my phone. “Yeah, I’m not coming home right away–I’ve got practice.”

BOOM. Look at that.

  • End Your Essay with Action

Ending your essay right after your pivot or critical moment can leave a lasting impression on your reader. This might sound familiar to you because English teachers often advise students to end their essays earlier or directly after their success or big takeaway.

Think of the “fade-to-black” in a movie – you want to end on a high, glowy feeling.

End with the robot’s arm lifting, your call home to celebrate, or your grandma thanking you. Then stop. Leave your reader wanting more! Keep the admissions officer thinking about you.

Or, here’s a simple example:

I pushed open the door and stepped inside.

Even without context, you can tell this student took a risk and committed to something. It’s all in the actions.

  • End Your Essay Using Descriptions

Maybe you want to end in a mood, or by creating a wider view of things, or by focusing in on a certain important object. We can get behind descriptive endings.

The whole robot shuddered as it creaked to life and rolled across the concrete floor. Its silver arm gently grasped the upturned box and then lifted it.

There’s some combination here with action, but that’s perfectly fine.

  • End Your Essay by Going Full Circle

Did you talk to someone at the beginning? You might end by talking to them again. Or if you described a specific object, you might mention it again. There are many ways to end where you began, and it’s often a satisfying technique.

  • End Your Essay by Directly Addressing the College

Tell them what you’re going to do there or what you’re excited about. T might look something like this:

And that’s why I’m so excited about the Core Curriculum: I’m going to study everything.

This technique breaks the “don’t tell them what your essay is about” rule–but only a little. Be sure to still sound like yourself and to be very confident in your plans.

Don't End Your Essay With a Summary

So far, we've only talked about what you can and should do. Not it's time to leave you with one big don't.

Don't end your essay with a summary. Don’t ever say the point of your essay. Cut every single “that’s when I realized,” “I learned,” and “the most important thing was….” Every single one. They’re boring, unconvincing, and doing you no favors.

When you tell the reader what to feel or think, you stop telling a story. And then the reader stops connecting with you. And then they stop caring. Don’t let this happen. Don’t summarize.


5 ways to end your college application essay graphic


Is Ending Your Common App Essay Different?

No. The process of writing and concluding the essay is the same regardless of whether you are using the Common App or applying directly to a college. But there are some differences between the prompts you'll get and what you'll write about.

When you use the Common App, you'll write one main essay that will be sent to all of the colleges you're applying to. The essay prompts for the Common App are designed to be broad and open-ended, so you can write about something that works across the board for any college. 

But when you apply directly to a college, you might be required to write an essay that's specific to that school. So the essay prompt may ask you to address certain aspects of the college or program or list questions you'll need to answer in your essay.

Being Strategic About Your Applications & Essays 

Writing essays and submitting applications is hard work, especially in addition to your high school classes and extracurriculars. So, you need to be strategic about where you apply. That’s where Appily comes in.

Find out where you rank for all of the schools you are considering. Determine if the schools on your list are reach, match, or safety schools so you can make the best application decisions. Once you create a free Appily account, you can also search and apply for scholarships. 

Click the button below to start making smarter application decisions. 

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