Writing The Common App Essay Conclusion

You’re on the home straight. The introduction and the main paragraphs for your Common Application essay are written. You’ve just got the conclusion to go.

Don’t flag now, even if you feel like giving up - this is a key section and needs focus and concentration. Follow these top tips to make your conclusion a sucess:

1. Make it memorable

An essay conclusion should aim to stay in the reader’s mind whether that’s because it’s a great story, the thought of what may come next or you’ve left a resounding impression.

It’s about ending an essay with an actual conclusion not just tailing off or drifting, as the main story has been told.

Your essay conclusion should summarize what’s been said and aim to complete your story.

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.

As well as summarizing your main points, make reference back to your introduction and your key outcomes. Don’t repeat the same words but write them in a new way.

For example if your introduction started with:

After passing my driving test at the second attempt, my independence was less than I imagined.

And the main points featured helping friends and neighbors who couldn’t drive, ferrying your siblings to their out of school activities and using the car to arrive at your weekend job earlier; then your conclusion could say,

During the last 12 months of driving independently, I’ve gained far more than just the ability to drive from A to B. I’ve helped others less mobile than myself and my employer is impressed that I’m showing up energized for my weekend job and willing to learn more.

It is also worth checking back over each paragraph at least twice and making sure any loose ends are resolved in your conclusion, otherwise the reader (the admissions tutor) may have a query in their mind about “what happened to x?” 

2. Think ahead

Try to end your conclusion with a look forward into the future. What are you planning next?

For example if your weekends were spent volunteering at the local Hispanic community center, chatting through housing rights then your conclusion could say:

During my 6 month volunteer work at the Hispanic community center, I’ve come to realize just how valuable it’s been for people to have someone who will listen and understand them as an individual. I’m aiming to continue this at College by forming a Hispanic College student club, set up and run by students for students.

If you’ve written your essay about a science experiment or you’ve asked family or friends to take a research survey on a specific topic, your conclusion must state what you analyzed and found out, not just that you’ve completed your survey.

If it’s possible (and it may not be) leave your reader with a thought provoking question about the future.

For example if you’ve written about the prejudice you’ve encountered as a woman while trying to set up an all-women’s American football team at high school, ask the reader in your conclusion…

How far would you go to support equality and your students? Would you champion the right to have an all-women’s student football team at College?

3. Avoid making jokes

Humor is a great skill to include in writing a conclusion, but please be careful.

It is better to leave it out, than try too hard and it falls flat.

A second check of your conclusion by family and friends will let you know whether it’s worked or not. 

Above all else your conclusion should be passionate and show how much you still love life and can’t wait to start college.

4. Get feedback

When you have a full draft of your essay, reread it and make any amendments as you see fit, and then pass it on to family and friends to ask for their opinions.

It's important to carry out at least several rounds of revision by third parties, to ensure your essay is as polished as it can be. Asking other people to look at it for you provides a level of objectivity that, as the writer, you will probably not be able to provide yourself.

If you're still not entirely happy with your first draft, you can check out our library of Common App Essay Examples for inspiration on how you might improve your own essay.

Further information

For more tips and advice on putting together your common application for college, please see: