How to End a College Essay

Student on laptop
August 16, 2022
How to End Your College EssayCollege Essay Endings ExamplesCollege Essay Endings to AvoidFAQs: How to End a College Essay


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Are you having trouble writing a conclusion for your college essay? Here’s how to end a college essay with expert tips and examples. 

Writing the perfect ending for your college essay is no easy feat; it can be just as challenging as starting your college essay. But don’t fear - we’ve got you covered! This complete guide, will discuss everything you need to know about how to end a college application essay. Follow along for tips, examples, and more.

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How to End Your College Essay

After an energetic essay, it’s essential to end on a high note. Your conclusion should be clear, concise, and, most importantly - memorable. Since college admissions advisors read hundreds of essays, your conclusion will be the last bit they remember. 

No matter what approach you take to the concluding paragraph, you’ll want to focus on the lesson learned. Think of the end of a great movie; what was it that gave you the warm and fuzzies before the credits rolled? The ending should be impactful, moving, and nod toward the future.

Your ending shouldn't summarize the essay, repeat points that have already been made or taper off into nothingness. You don’t want it to just fade out–you want it to go out with a bang! Keeping it interesting at this stage can be challenging, but it can make or break a good college essay.

College Essay Endings Examples

Let’s go over some college application essay ending examples. Follow along to learn different powerful strategies you can use to end your college essay.

1. The Lesson Learned

One of the best things you can do in your college essay is demonstrate how you can get back up after getting knocked down. Showing the admissions committee how you’ve learned and grown from a challenging life event is an excellent way to present yourself as a strong candidate. 

Think of this method as the ending of a good novel about a complex character: they’re not perfect, but they try to be better, and that’s what counts. In your college essay, you’re the main character of your story. Don’t be afraid to talk about a mistake you’ve made as long as you demonstrate (in your conclusion) that you learned something valuable.

Here’s an example of a college essay ending from a Harvard student using the “Lesson Learned” technique:

"The best thing that I took away from this experience is that I can't always control what happens to me, especially as a minor, but I can control how I handle things. In full transparency: there were still bad days and bad grades, but by taking action and adding a couple of classes into my schedule that I felt passionate about, I started feeling connected to school again. From there, my overall experience with school – and life in general – improved 100%."

2. The Action-Packed Ending

Like you see in the movies, ending your college essay in the action can leave an impactful impression on the admissions committee. In the UMichigan example below, the student ends their essay on an ambiguous, energetic note by saying, “I never saw it coming,” as the last line. 

You can also achieve this approach by ending your essay with dialogue or a description. For example, “Hi mom, I’m not coming home just yet,” or “I picked up my brother's phone, and dialed the number.” These are examples of endings that leave you “in the action”–dropping off the reader almost mid-story, leaving them intrigued. 

Here is an example of an “action-packed” college essay ending from a UMichigan student.

"No foreign exchange trip could outdo that. I am a member of many communities based on my geography, ethnicity, interests, and talents, but the most meaningful community is the one that I never thought I would be a part of…

On that first bus ride to the Nabe, I never saw it coming.”

3. The Full Circle

As you may know, a “full circle” ending ties the story’s ending to the very beginning. Not to be confused with a summary, this method is an excellent way to leave a lasting impression on your reader. 

When using this technique, tie the very first sentence with the very last. Avoid over-explaining yourself, and end with a very simple recall to the beginning of the story. Keep in mind if you use this method, your “full circle” should be straightforward and seamless. 

Here is an example of a “Full Circle” college essay ending from a Duke student:

“So next time it rains, step outside. Close your eyes. Hear the symphony of millions of water droplets. And enjoy the moment.”

In response to the beginning: 

“The pitter patter of droplets, the sweet smell that permeates throughout the air, the dark grey clouds that fill the sky, shielding me from the otherwise intense gaze of the sun, create a landscape unparalleled by any natural beauty.”

4. The College Address 

Directly addressing your college is a popular method, as it recalls the main reason you want to attend the school. If you choose to address your school, it is imperative to do your research. You should know precisely what you find attractive about the school, what they offer, and why it speaks to you. 

Here is a college essay ending example using the “College Address” technique from a UMichigan Student:

"I want to join the University of Michigan’s legacy of innovators. I want to be part of the LSA community, studying economics and political science. I want to attend the Ford School and understand how policy in America and abroad has an effect on global poverty. I want to be involved with the Poverty Solutions Initiative, conducting groundbreaking research on the ways we can reform our financial system to better serve the lower and middle classes.”

5. The Look To the Future

Admissions committees want to know how attending their school will help you on your journey. To use this method, highlight your future goals at the end of your essay. You can highlight what made you want to go to this school in the first place, and what you hope to achieve moving forward. If done correctly, this can be highly impactful.

Here is a college essay ending example from a med student using the “Look To the Future” technique:

“I want to tell my peers that doctors like my grandfather are not only healers in biology but healers in the spirit by the way he made up heroic songs for the children and sang the fear out of their hearts. I want to show my peers that patients are unique individuals who have suffered and sacrificed to trust us with their health care, so we must honor their trust by providing quality treatment and empathy.

My formative experiences in pediatrics contributed to my globally conscious mindset, and I look forward to sharing these diverse insights in my medical career.”

College Essay Endings to Avoid

You want your essay to have an impactful ending - but these methods may have the opposite impact. Now that you know some effective ways to end your college essay, let’s go over some methods to avoid. 

1. The Summary

Remember that you’re writing a college essay, not a high school assignment you need to scrape through. Avoid simply summarizing the points you made during your essay. This method can come off as lazy and ultimately leave a negative impression on the admissions committee–or no impression at all. Instead, end the essay on a high note, with a point of action, or with your future goals. 

2. The Famous Quote

Some students start their college essay with one, and some end it with one. Neither is a good idea. Avoid using a famous quote anywhere in your essay as it can give the impression that you don’t know what to write. The admissions committee wants to get to know you–they already know the famous quotes.

Unless you’ve done thorough research and are quoting someone affiliated with the school, you should avoid quotes altogether in your college essay.

3. The Needy Student

In your college essay conclusion, avoid begging for admission. You don’t want to come off desperate in your essay. Saying things like “Please consider me” or “I really want to attend” doesn’t say anything about you and doesn’t read smoothly. Instead, demonstrate who you are and how you’ve learned and grown in your life. Focus on you, not them!

FAQs: How to End a College Essay

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about how to end a college application essay.

1. How Do You Conclude a College Essay?

The end of your college essay should be strong, clear, and impactful. You can talk about your future goals, end in a moment of action, talk about what you’ve learned, or go full circle. Whatever method you choose, make sure to avoid summarizing your essay.

2. What Is a Good Closing Sentence?

A good closing sentence on your college essay is impactful, meaningful, and makes the reader think. You’ll want to ensure the reader remembers your essay, so conclude with something unique that ends your story with a bang.

3. What Words Can You Use to End an Essay?

Avoid saying “to conclude,” “to summarize,” or “finally.” Your essay should end on a high note, like the ending of a movie. Think of moving sentences such as “I never saw it coming,” “I’ll always remember what happened,” or “I’ve learned so much since then.”

Final Thoughts

By following our tips, you should be on track to write a stellar college essay with an impactful ending. Think of what you’ve learned, what you’ll do in the future, and where you can end the story that would leave a lasting impression. 

If you’re still having a hard time ending your college essay, you can always contact an admissions expert or tutor to help guide you through the process. 

Good luck with your essay!

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