A Conclusion Case Study

In my last post, I gave you some tips on how to finish your college scholarship essay with a bang. Using examples to demonstrate the points we want to make is a solid strategy for essay writing, so let’s take a look at this introduction to an essay written by a girl who longs to save the endangered orca whale population of the Salish Sea:

While riding in my father’s boat as we navigate the passages between the San Juan Islands, I am tempted to lean against the deck railing, chin in hand, while I think to myself, “Boring!” But, I don’t. While the wide expanse of dark water surrounding me all looks very much the same, my eyes are alert and my interest is piqued. At any moment, I might hear a wet exhale of air and see the upward jet of water that indicates the nearby presence of an orca whale! The times in my life when I’ve been lucky enough to witness a pod of these majestic animals feeding or at play are my most treasured memories. I’m dedicated to my goal of becoming an environmental scientist and discovering new ways to protect marine life from extinction, because I cannot imagine living in a world where the unique possibility of encountering a wild orca whale no longer exists.

Would this be an interesting and effective way to for the girl to conclude her essay?

In summary, the orca whale population of the Salish Sea is being threatened by pollution, food shortages, and too few females of breeding age who can add calves to the pod. To help fight these threats, I have volunteered for many beach clean-up projects, written letters to my senator asking for the removal of the dams that are killing the salmon, and campaigned for the release and rehabilitation of an adult female who was captured from these waters many years ago. As I finish school to become an environmental scientist, I will continue to do everything that I can to help these whales that I love.

Not so great? I agree. The girl has merely repeated what we can assume she already told the judges in the body of her essay. Let’s give her a second try at catching her audience’s attention:

As I ponder these things, a young male orca surfaces only a few yards away from Dad’s boat. He breaches joyfully before my eyes, and I consider the splash of water that hits my face as he lands to be the whale’s thank you for all my attempts to help his pod—both past and future.The orca’s beauty and grace heighten my resolve to become an environmental scientist, so that I can work toward finding solutions for marine mammals at risk of extinction. If the top predators of our oceans can’t be saved, what hope does that leave for the top predators on land—mankind?

Much better, isn’t it? Using exactly the same number of words as she did before, the girl has written a new conclusion that is more than just a litany of her essay’s previous content. She has linked back to her introduction by returning to the boat scene where she began. Without boring her audience by repeating the details, she has reminded them of her two main points: a) the orcas are going extinct; b) she has been active in trying to stop this from happening. She has stated her intention to continue to fight for the environment, and she’s told her readers why her goal is of importance to them by posing a question they may never have considered before. That’s a lot to accomplish in only four sentences, but I know YOU can do the same, if you put some thought and attention into writing your conclusion.

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

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