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How to Write a Conclusion for a College Application Essay

Discover the dos and don'ts of writing a conclusion for your college application essays and get tips for making your essay shine.

February 3, 2023

A college essay is a personal statement that is submitted as part of the application required to gain admission to a university. Colleges use essays to evaluate a student's abilities, achievements, and potential.

Most essays are written in response to a prompt or question posed by the institution. The prompt may ask the student to describe a significant experience, discuss a personal interest or passion, or explain why they are interested in attending that specific university.

Its purpose is to give the admissions committee a sense of the student's personality, interests, and motivations. It’s also an opportunity for the student to share their unique perspective, and demonstrate their writing skills and ability to think critically.

A well-written college application essay can be a powerful tool in helping a student stand out from the competition and improve their chances of being accepted to a top-tier college university.

How to Write the Conclusion

Though each part of the essay can be difficult to write, typically the conclusion is one part that students really struggle with. It’s hard to succinctly, yet powerfully, summarize your main thoughts and make a final case for admission.

The conclusion is also important because it is the last thing that the admissions committee member who is reviewing your application will read. In other words, it’s your last opportunity to make a good impression and leave the reader with a clear and lasting conviction of your potential and your fit.

When writing a conclusion for a college application essay, there are a few key steps to follow.

Summarize your thesis.

In your introduction, you should have stated your thesis, which is the main argument or point that you are trying to make in your essay. In college essays, this may also be a theme. For example, is your story that you are an underdog who life continuously tried to beat down but at each step, you persisted? Or maybe it’s that you had a family member who had health struggles and you have made it your life mission to get an education that would allow you to help solve these medical mysteries. The angle that you decide to take will be entirely dependent on your unique story and strengths; take time to figure out the overall story that you want to tell. What picture of yourself are you trying to paint?

In your conclusion, restate this thesis, purpose, theme, or argument in a new and interesting way, so that the reader is reminded of what your essay was about and why it was important.

Synthesize your main points.

In your essay, you should have made several key points that support your thesis. In your conclusion, synthesize these points briefly so that the reader has a clear understanding of what you have argued and why. Don’t just repeat what you have already written; show how the different parts of your essay work together. You don’t need to go too in-depth here, one or two sentences are usually enough to remind the reader of what they have just read.

Explain why your essay is important.

In your conclusion, you should also explain why your essay is important and why the reader should care about your argument. This can be done by connecting your thesis to a larger issue or problem, or by discussing the implications of your argument. For college essays, this usually means connecting the argument to your future.

Remember: when admissions committees are deciding whether to admit students, they’re basically betting on their future potential. It’s your job to demonstrate this potential in your essays. You can also think of this part as answering the “so what?” question.

End with a strong statement.

Finally, end your conclusion with a strong statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Generally, we recommend avoiding quotes unless it’s extremely relevant. It’s usually a lot more effective to use your own words. Also, in almost every case, your conclusion should not leave the reader wanting more; in other words, they should feel like it ended and walk away with a sense of closure.

When you’re getting ready to write your conclusion, think about each of these questions and write down a few bullet points for each.

  • What is my argument (in one sentence or a few words)?
  • What impressions or feelings do I want the admissions committee member to walk away from this essay with?
  • How do I want the reader to feel while reading this essay?
  • What tone do I want to convey? Formal, informal, friendly, assertive, humorous, convincing, etc.?

What Not To Do

As you write your conclusion, here are a few things that we recommend you do not do.

Use a cliche closing phrase: Usually, it’s better to develop your conclusion naturally without the inclusion of “in conclusion,” “in closing,” “in summary,” or a similar phrase.

Introduce topics that you haven’t included earlier in the essay: Your conclusion is not about opening up the door to further topics. Rather, it’s about tying everything together and putting a bow on it, so to speak. Don’t introduce a new idea or try to stuff something in that should’ve been included in the body.

Change the tone/argument style: This goes for both tone and argument style. For example, if your argument is primarily a logical one, don’t switch to an emotional one in the conclusion. If you employ a formal tone in the body of the essay, don’t switch to a casual tone in the end.

Summarize the essay: The conclusion should not just repeat what you have already written. Not only is this a waste of the already-limited space, it’s also dull and unconvincing to read.

College Application Essays Tips

Writing a college admissions essay can be daunting, but it is also a significant opportunity to share your perspective and experiences with the admissions committee. Now that we’ve covered the conclusion, here are a few general tips that will help you write a compelling essay body.

  1. Start early: Begin writing your essay as early as possible, so that you have plenty of time to revise and edit. This will also help you avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
  2. Be yourself: Your essay is an opportunity to share your unique background and stories with the admissions committee. Be honest and genuine in your writing, and avoid trying to be someone you are not. Lean into what makes you different because that is what will help you stand out from the many other applicants.
  3. Follow the prompt: You may think this point is obvious, but it’s something many students struggle with. Make sure to carefully read and understand the essay prompt, and respond to it directly. Avoid going off on tangents or writing about unrelated topics. Because of the word limit, every part of the essay should be immediately relevant to the broader story you’re trying to tell.
  4. Show, don't tell: Instead of simply telling the admissions committee about your accomplishments or experiences, show them through specific examples and anecdotes. This will make your essay more engaging and compelling. With every statement you make, include stories that support the claim.
  5. Proofread and read it out loud: Make sure to carefully proofread and edit your essay for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. It can also be helpful to have someone else read your essay and provide feedback. Once you have a solid draft, we also recommend reading your essay out loud. This will give you an idea of how the essay will sound to the adcom member.

Final Note

We know that writing your college application essays is an arduous process, especially if you have to do it alone. The best way to nail your application essays is to work one-on-one with a coach who can provide personalized feedback and revisions. Below are a few of our top Leland college admissions coaches who specialize in essays; browse all of them here.

As you put together your college applications, here are a few other resources you may find helpful:

Here at Leland, we provide you with the content, community, and coaching that you need to get into your dream school and accomplish other ambitious goals. Sign up today to gain access to additional free resources, community events, small group classes, world-class coaching, and more.