An Expert Guide to Crafting a Reflective Essay like a Pro

Ever sat under a tree on a beautiful sunny day and thought about your life and the lessons that you’ve learned along the way? If not, then that’s okay. Many college students are too busy to spend their days doing deep introspection. But, if your professor has given you a reflective essay to write on, then it’s the perfect chance to do so.

You can start by reflecting on your past grades and what you could have done differently. Then, thinking about what you can do now to improve them. A great first step involves learning how to start an award-winning paper. This article will take you through a comprehensive step-by-step process of how to write a reflective essay that you can look back on one day and think, “Hmmm... I was a modern-day genius!"

What is a reflective essay?

It’s part of human nature to think about the events and experiences that you’ve been through in the past. Most people consider them in the context of how they shaped them into who they are today. Reflective essays do just that. They allow you to analyze specific sequences of events or experiences and derive the lessons learned.

To write it, you’ll need to become vulnerable. Open up about your emotions and thoughts to unveil your background, personality, character traits, and mindset. It requires an in-depth description of a given experience along with explanations of your feelings, reactions, and thoughts on it. While reflective essays are subjective and personal, they should be well-structured and maintain a formal tone.

Steps to writing reflective essays that’ll get you through the door 

Most reflective essays are usually part of the college admissions process. It’s up to you to define what kind of experience you want to share with your audience.

Without further ado, follow the reflective writing example below that’ll leave a mark on anyone who reads your essay.

Step 1: Topic selection

Usually, professors give topics relating to lectures, books, or films studied in class. You’ll then have to discuss how a given topic resonates with you. 

In some cases, your professor may grant you free rein to decide what you wish to write about. The selected theme will be the building block for the rest of your reflective essay. 

Step 2: Brainstorm and create an outline

Taking notes is an important part of the writing process. It plays a major role in organizing your thoughts and ideas into a logical format. It makes the writing process faster and more efficient.

Start by jotting down a few sentences that relate to your theme. Use these thoughts as a mini-summary for the rest of your notes.

From there, write down some ideas that are relevant to this theme. The idea behind this kind of essay is to give your views on a subject so keep this in mind while brainstorming. Some popular techniques you can use include lists, charts, and diagrams. The outcome of the process serves as a roadmap to your paper. 

Step 3: Structure is key

From the notes that you took during the brainstorming process, take a few minutes to create a basic outline for your paper. Here’s the basic reflective essay structure you should follow: 

  • Incorporate reflective questions - Ask yourself “How is this topic relevant to me? How does it make me feel?” This helps to set the tone of a reflective essay.
  • Write a powerful introduction - Here’s where students usually get lost in their words. Avoid beating around the bush. Get straight to the point with a few sentences stating why the given topic resonates with you.
  • Focus on the thesis - Write the thesis in your introduction, briefly stating how your expectations were or weren’t met, and why.
  • Detailed explanation - It’s in the body that you offer an in-depth explanation of your thesis. Include details on how a given subject fulfilled or failed to meet your expectations.
  • Wrap things up with a conclusion - It perfectly sums up your emotions and thoughts on the topic in three to five sentences. This includes pointing out the take-home message from your detailed personal experience. Remember not to veer off the main idea. 

Practice makes perfect

Reflective essays require you to vividly express your thoughts and emotions. While it may be tedious at first, it gets easier with practice. Eventually, you’ll elevate your skills and get proper direction to express your feelings and thoughts.

Do you still need help? You can count on the support of our expert writers to craft a reflective essay for you that’ll be one for the record books.