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Essay Outline Sample Examples Of College

How to Outline a College Admissions Essay

By the time high school graduation comes around students should have acquired a solid working understanding of the basic essay structure. Unfortunately, not all high school English departments are created equal, and some students may find the prospect of writing their college admissions essay more than a little daunting. But if we take some time to review the basic essay structure, and consider how to approach your admissions essay, you will be well on your way to a successful submission.

Sample of a Basic Template Structure

Before we delve to deeply into the process, let's review the basics. The standard essay format that you have been writing in high school, and will be expected to write in college, has a basic structure of five paragraphs. A standard essay consists of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and a final paragraph presenting your conclusion. Obviously, you can have additional body paragraphs depending on the breadth of your argument, but the five paragraph essay is a working model best suited to our current purpose. It is through this simple essay structure that you will present, defend and conclude your argument in a neat and cohesive manner.

Introduction Ideas

The typical introductory paragraph for any essay will present your thesis statement, which will clearly define the subject and purpose of your essay. For example, a simple thesis statement might be, “Switching to a paperless office model will not only save the company money, it will also reduce wastage and create a more efficient workspace while helping the environment.” As you begin your introductory paragraph you will want to approach your topic broadly, bring it into focus over the course of the paragraph and present the reader with your thesis. By the time the first paragraph is finished you should have introduced the reader to your subject, suggested your supporting points of discussion and interested them in your argument.

Formal Body Paragraphs

As you move on in your essay, you will want to dedicate a paragraph to each of the salient points you wish to make to support your thesis statement. Once again, the traditional model includes three paragraphs for developing your argument but this is not a hard and fast rule. As you progress in your essay writing while at college you will find much longer essay forms will be needed. The paragraphs making up the body of your essay should be ordered to reflect your supporting points as addressed in your initial thesis statement. Each paragraph should be supported with research and original ideas that defend you initial assertion.

When you are preparing the outline for your essay, you will want to briefly jot down the supporting points for each paragraph, and list examples or research points you want to include that will prove your original thesis statement. When you look over your outline, you should recognize the skeleton of your finished essay. Your outline will also allow you to see and address any holes in your argument, and to take note of any supportive points that are either too light or too heavy on information.

In Conclusion

The final paragraph of your essay is where you will summarize your argument and present the reader with your ultimate conclusion. The standard format for an essay's conclusion is to restate the thesis, and then concisely demonstrate how your supporting points have proven your original assertion. It is important that the conclusion of your essay be strong and definitive. In the end, you want to present your reader with a coherent and concise essay that demonstrates your knowledge of the topic at hand, and your ability to reason and argue clearly and with precision.

Preparing for your college admissions essay may seem daunting at first. But with an understanding of an essay's basic structure, and a detailed outline, you will be able to present the college admissions board with a cohesive essay that will impress the judges and move your application at the top of the acceptance pile.

When it comes to writing essays in college, we all need a place to start. Think of the five-paragraph essay as just that. Some students may find this to be a simple process, while others may spend a greater amount of time understanding this basic building block of college writing. Whatever the case, use the following guidelines to strengthen your knowledge of this preliminary essay format. Five-paragraph essays are incredibly useful in two situations — when writers are just starting out and when a writing assignment is timed.

The five-paragraph essay has three basic parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay, and it serves several purposes. This paragraph gets your reader's attention, develops the basic ideas of what you will cover, and provides the thesis statement for the essay. The thesis statement is usually only one sentence and is made up of the topic, focus, and three main points of the essay.

Each body paragraph should start with a transition — either a word or phrase, like First, or Another important point is. Then, the first sentence should continue with your topic sentence. The topic sentence tells your reader what the paragraph is about, like a smaller-level thesis statement. The rest of the paragraph will be made of supporting sentences. These sentences, at least four of them, will explain your topic sentence to your reader.

Be sure that each sentence in the paragraph directly addresses both your topic sentence and your thesis statement. If you have a point to make that is not directly connected to the topic sentence, it does not belong in the paragraph. You might write a different paragraph on that other point, but you may not stick it into any old paragraph just because you thought of it at that point. (You can't stick a red towel into a load of white laundry without causing damage to the rest of the clothes, and you can't stick a point that' off-topic into a paragraph without doing damage to the rest of the essay. Keep your laundry and your paragraph points separate!)

The conclusion is the last paragraph of the essay. This paragraph brings the essay to a close, reminds the reader of the basic ideas from the essay, and restates the thesis statement. The conclusion should not contain new ideas, as it is the summation of the content of the essay. The restatement of the thesis is a simpler form that the one originally presented in the introduction.

An outline is often used to demonstrate the content of most five-paragraph essays:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
    1. First Point
    2. Second Point
    3. Third Point
  3. Conclusion

Before we finish, it is important to remember that the format of the five-paragraph essay is the foundation of nearly every other essay you'll write. When you get ready to write longer papers, remember that the job of the introduction and conclusion are just the same as they are in the five-paragraph essay. Also, when you write longer papers, change your idea of support from three body paragraphs to three (or two or four) body sections, with as many paragraphs as necessary in each section (just as you had as many sentences you needed in each body paragraph).

Below is an example of a 5-paragraph essay. Notice how the essay follows the outline.

Outline of this essay:

  1. Introduction about camping, with three main points and thesis statement
  2. Body
    1. bad weather
    2. wildlife
    3. equipment failures
  3. Conclusion reviewing three main points and thesis statement

Enjoying Your Camping Trip

Each year, thousands of people throughout the United States choose to spend their vacations camping in the great outdoors. Depending on an individual's sense of adventure, there are various types of camping to choose from, including log cabin camping, recreational vehicle camping, and tent camping. Of these, tent camping involves "roughing it" the most, and with proper planning the experience can be gratifying. Even with the best planning, however, tent camping can be an extremely frustrating experience due to uncontrolled factors such as bad weather, wildlife encounters, and equipment failures.

Nothing can dampen the excited anticipation of camping more than a dark, rainy day. Even the most adventurous campers can lose some of their enthusiasm on the drive to the campsite if the skies are dreary and damp. After reaching their destination, campers must then "set up camp" in the downpour. This includes keeping the inside of the tent dry and free from mud, getting the sleeping bags situated dryly, and protecting food from the downpour. If the sleeping bags happen to get wet, the cold also becomes a major factor. A sleeping bag usually provides warmth on a camping trip; a wet sleeping bag provides none. Combining wind with rain can cause frigid temperatures, causing any outside activities to be delayed. Even inside the tent problems may arise due to heavy winds. More than a few campers have had their tents blown down because of the wind, which once again begins the frustrating task of "setting up camp" in the downpour. It is wise to check the weather forecast before embarking on camping trips; however, mother nature is often unpredictable and there is no guarantee bad weather will be eluded.

Another problem likely to be faced during a camping trip is run-ins with wildlife, which can range from mildly annoying to dangerous. Minor inconveniences include mosquitoes and ants. The swarming of mosquitoes can literally drive annoyed campers indoors. If an effective repellant is not used, the camper can spend an interminable night scratching, which will only worsen the itch. Ants do not usually attack campers, but keeping them out of the food can be quite an inconvenience. Extreme care must be taken not to leave food out before or after meals. If food is stored inside the tent, the tent must never be left open. In addition to swarming the food, ants inside a tent can crawl into sleeping bags and clothing. Although these insects cause minor discomfort, some wildlife encounters are potentially dangerous. There are many poisonous snakes in the United States, such as the water moccasin and the diamond-back rattlesnake. When hiking in the woods, the camper must be careful where he steps. Also, the tent must never be left open. Snakes, searching for either shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, can enter a tent. An encounter between an unwary camper and a surprised snake can prove to be fatal. Run-ins can range from unpleasant to dangerous, but the camper must realize that they are sometimes inevitable.

Perhaps the least serious camping troubles are equipment failures; these troubles often plague families camping for the first time. They arrive at the campsite at night and haphazardly set up their nine-person tent. They then settle down for a peaceful night's rest. Sometime during the night the family is awakened by a huge crash. The tent has fallen down. Sleepily, they awake and proceed to set up the tent in the rain. In the morning, everyone emerges from the tent, except for two. Their sleeping bag zippers have gotten caught. Finally, after fifteen minutes of struggling, they free themselves, only to realize another problem. Each family member's sleeping bag has been touching the sides of the tent. A tent is only waterproof if the sides are not touched. The sleeping bags and clothing are all drenched. Totally disillusioned with the "vacation," the frustrated family packs up immediately and drives home. Equipment failures may not seem very serious, but after campers encounter bad weather and annoying pests or wild animals, these failures can end any remaining hope for a peaceful vacation.

These three types of camping troubles can strike campers almost anywhere. Until some brilliant scientist invents a weather machine to control bad weather or a kind of wildlife repellant, unlucky campers will continue to shake their fists in frustration. More than likely, equipment will continue to malfunction. Even so, camping continues to be a favorite pastime of people all across the United States. If you want camping to be a happy experience for you, learn to laugh at leaky tents, bad weather, and bugs, or you will find yourself frustrated and unhappy.

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