There is an old show business adage (attributed at times to both P.T. Barnum and Walt Disney), “Always leave them wanting more.” As it relates to your college application essay, however, I would suggest a slight adjustment: “Always leave them wanting you.”

Easier said than done, of course (what isn’t?), but Step Twenty Two of the twenty five ways to make your college application essay the best writing you’ve ever done might make it easier.

#22. Close Memorably

The end of your essay is your last chance to leave a positive impression on an Admissions Director or Committee Member and it is vital to make the most of that opportunity. Here are three techniques that will help you do it.

  1. The Buzz Lightyear

This technique involves extending the theme of your essay “to infinity and beyond” or as most of us call it, the future. You can transition to the Buzz Lightyear with a straightforward sentence such as, “As I prepare to enter college, the lessons I learned will continue to resonate.” From there, be as specific as you can about what you will do in college – and beyond – that reflects the concepts you’ve explored in your essay.

  1. The Echo

This technique simply calls back an event, person, or other element that was introduced earlier, and uses it to bookend the essay. If used effectively, it will give the reader the sense that your essay is unified and complete. A student of mine used this technique recently by introducing a song she and her friends used to sing, signifying their closeness. She brought it back at the end of the essay stating that whenever she hears the song, in college and beyond, she will always stop to remember her friends and what they learned together. It was honest, emotional, and a demonstration of good writing.

  1. Pull Back the Curtain

Let’s say your essay is about your relationship with a young cancer patient and how you struggled to keep his spirits up as he battled the disease. An effective way to end that essay (assuming, of course, it was true) would be to reveal that the patient was your little brother. By withholding that information and “pulling back the curtain” at the end, you enhance the drama of the essay and give the reader an irresistible emotional moment.

With all of these techniques, and any others you might use, it is also worthwhile to strive for a witty, highly literate, philosophical or surprising closing sentence. You might not get it on your first, second or third draft but don’t give up. If your final words can bring an appreciative and concurring nod, a smile to a reader’s face, or a tear to his eye, your essay can be considered a success.

For more personal help with the Common Application essay, supplemental or any other college application essays, please contact Craig Heller at, or 818-340-1276.

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