If you are like me when I was as a teenager, that means you never outline.  What’s the point? You’re going to write the essay later on anyway, so why waste valuable time making an outline?  Furthermore, if you’re like teenage me, that means you spent a few too many nights staying up until 2 AM finishing an essay you should have started weeks ago.  After years of writing, I finally understand the wisdom of outlining. It saves time, organizes your thoughts and shows you what resources you must collect. You should be outlining everything including (especially!) your college essay.  

If you set out to write an essay without proper planning, you’ll spend a lot of time starting and stopping.  You’ll have to collect your thoughts and fit pieces back together as the piece morphs. You may discover that you don’t have enough meaningful anecdotes to support your initial narrative arc.  A thorough outline means you won’t have those difficulties. You’ll know how the disparate parts of your essay coalesce to create a cohesive narrative. Additionally, you won’t be fumbling for the perfect turn of phrase every paragraph; a good outline creates an organizational structure that lets you ruminate and tinker with your self-expression.  Furthermore, if you want to go the extra mile and incorporate multimedia or another innovation into your essay, then outlining will help you decide how to do so.

Your outline should resemble the ones you’ve (theoretically) written for school.  That means you start with your thesis: what are you going to show college admissions officers about yourself?  Have three paragraphs of evidence and end with a conclusion. That final paragraph is often used to demonstrate how much more room you have to grow after being accepted to college.

Here’s an example essay outline about a student’s desire to become a veterinarian

  1.    Introduction
  • Opening sentence, something punchy and eye grabbing: When I was six years old, my mom brought home a VHS tape that would forever change my life.  It wasn’t Bill Nye the Science Guy or Power Rangers. No. It was Pokemon.
  • Connect watching Pokemon as a child to desire to help animals


  1.    Evidence one: Humanitarian interest
  • Discuss the role that pets play in our lives and the necessity of animal welfare


  1.    Evidence two: Person intellectual interest
  • Combines biology with psychology


  1.    Evidence three: Previous experience
  • Detail working at a local vet the previous summer.
  • Talk about a specific case which was observed


  1.    Conclusion
  •    Return to the Pokemon example: “While I may no longer be trying to catch em all, I do want to save em all.”


While every student’s essay might not include Pokemon, every piece of writing benefits from as strong outline.  Contact us today for a free consultation to begin outlining both your essay and future!