How to Write a College Essay Outline

Your ability to write a persuasive and effective essay is essential to a successful college experience. Knowing how to write a college essay while writing with substance and adhering to the formats required (with or without formatting software) by your instructors is crucial to successful college writing. It is essential that you can express yourself in a compelling way within the accepted academic paper writing format.

Before you begin writing your paper, you need to address how to write a college essay outline. Your outline needs to contain the following sections:

  • Title
  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting paragraphs
  • Conclusion

To write a successful outline for your college essay, there are some other important ideas that you should consider first in order to increase your odds of ultimately writing a well-received paper and a good grade.

The Topic for Your Paper
First and foremost, you should give careful consideration to the topic of your paper. Think about what interests you and what you would enjoy writing about. Your topic should definitely be something that you are genuinely interested in, and, if possible, perhaps even on a topic that you are passionate about. Following this advice can pave the way for a good writing experience. When you have a genuine interest in the subject, your writing tends to flow more easily and effortlessly. If you don’t resonate with the assigned topic or perhaps even the class you are enrolled in, try to hone in on at least some aspect of the assignment that you can bring your voice to. This one consideration alone can make your essay-writing experience infinitely easier and more enjoyable. You are more likely to receive good feedback and ultimately a higher grade.

Your POV and Intended Audience
The next step is to select your point of view on your selected subject and identify your target audience. Don’t try to be all things to all people; hone in on a specific point of view to a well-defined target audience. Don’t be afraid to have a defined opinion on your subject matter unless your class is in the sciences. Express your passion and point of view as the assignment allows. Contribute something impactful rather than writing a paper that tries to please everybody or that is very general.

By following these two critical aspects of how to write a college essay, writing your outline should be relatively easy: title, thesis statement, supporting paragraphs and conclusion should flow logically from this groundwork.

The Devil Is in the Details
Putting passion into a specific point of view focused on a well-defined intended audience isnΓÇÖt enough to get you a good grade. You can lose points for lack of flow, errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar, and also if you donΓÇÖt adhere to the style guidelines set forth by your instructor. While learning how to write a college essay and editing your paper can take time, there are resources readily available to help with what many college writers find time consuming: editing your paper to the proper APA or MLA format.

Fortunately there is formatting software available on the market which will take the guesswork and tedium out of formatting your paper on your own. Instead of spending hours figuring out if you have the proper headers, footers, in text citations and more, these formatting software products will do it for you with just a couple of click making it easier than ever to write excellent college essays, and to enjoy the process.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto or write to:
info @

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

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