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How to Write a Reflective Essay – It’s Personal

October 01, 2015 - Posted to Catchy Research Paper Topics

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How to Write a Reflective Essay – It’s Personal

Throughout your college years, you will be exposed to a lot of literature, philosophies, experiences and events. In the course of all of this exposure, you may occasionally be faced with writing a reflective essay. Don’t freak out about this – they are really pretty easy to write. There is no research involved; the essay will not be a lengthy piece. And you will structure it just as you structure any other essay. The difference is that you will be asked to give the reader your reaction or response to something you have read, seen, heard, or experienced.

Typical Topics for Writing Essays that are Reflective

Suppose you have read a book or have viewed a movie; perhaps you have taken a field trip to an art museum; perhaps you have listened to lots of period music in an appreciation course; maybe you have finished your student teaching or a nursing practicum. All of these things could easily become topics for a reflective essay. You will be asked to think, or reflect, on this thing and discuss how it impacted you and how you might have been changed by it.

How to Write a Reflective Essay Once You Have the Topic – Be Thoughtful

If you are tasked with writing a reflective essay on a book you have recently finished, stop and ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Did the author “speak” to me in any way? How
  2. Were the author’s themes important to me? Why?
  3. Has the author moved me to some kind of action? What?

The same kinds of questions might be asked if you are to prepare a reflective essay on a movie you viewed.

Suppose you have just finished an internship, a student teaching assignment, or a practicum of some sort. Think about the experience and what it has meant for your career goals, you self-confidence, or your understanding of diverse groups of people. Are you more empathetic now? Do you have a better appreciation of people about whom you did not know much?

Doing this kind of thinking is the first step in writing your essay. From that, you will then follow the same steps for writing essays of any type.

  1. Get your thesis statement. What was the most important “takeaway” from the experience? If you can answer this question, you have your thesis statement.
  2. Now, identify three things that impacted. If you only have two, that is okay.
  3. Even if the thing or event did not impact you in any significant way, you can develop 3 paragraphs relative to this “low impact” experience.
  4. Write your body paragraphs first, just as you have done with other essays, so that you can reflect further as you write.
  5. Your introduction only needs to introduce the thing or event you experienced and that it impacted you in three ways. But do it a bit more creatively than this, of course.

Let’s look at a quick example: Suppose you have just completed an internship in a web design firm and you must now write that reflective essay. Your introduction might go something like this:

“An internship with XXX(name of firm) was the smartest move I have made thus far in college. I am now more excited about my career than ever before and cannot wait to graduate and enter this profession. Three things really impacted me that have given rise to this excitement – being able to collaborate with real pros in the business; meeting and learning how to relate to people from really varied backgrounds; and watching a logo I created be selected by a client.”

Now the reader knows what you did, and the three things that you mentioned are now becoming it really the sub-topics for each of your body paragraphs. Yes, it really is pretty straightforward.

Don’t Let the Term “Reflective” Scare You

This type of essay causes you to think above all else. But it’s a good kind of thinking.

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