Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.
Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CSUCI Code of Conduct.
View the examples
View Sample Reflective Essay #1
View Sample Reflective Essay #2
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One of the things that make a reflective essay different from other types of essay is that it is focused on your personal insights or what you think about something. However, it is also similar to other types of essay. Its main parts are introduction, body and conclusion. Brainstorming and writing a reflective essay outline would also help you write the essay much easier and faster.
Why You Should Write an Outline
Writing a reflective essay outline would help you know what to write. It also helps in organizing the paragraphs so they flow smoothly. When you write an outline, you will think about what you want to include in the essay. You can easily reorganize it if you feel that there is a better flow. Because the topics are already arranged, you should be able to save time in writing the essay itself. Many people spend a lot of time when writing an essay because they cannot decide what to write next. If you have an outline, you will just have to follow it and elaborate it to finish your essay.
There Are Two Types of Outline
You have two options when creating an outline. You can create a topic or sentence outline unless you are making it as required by your teacher who specified the type of outline that you have to make. The main difference between the two is that the sentence outline must be stated in complete sentences while the topic outline can be a phrase that describes what you want to write.
How to Create an Outline
All essays have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. These are the main parts of your essay and your outline. Thus, your outline should look like this with the phrase or sentence that describes what you write:
Each part would have sub-parts so your outline might look like this:
- I. Introduction
- II. Body
- An experience or event
- Its effects on you and/or other people
- What you learned from it
Tips to Make a Good Outline
When writing an outline, it is best to be specific in your phrases or sentences. Do not worry about having too many lines. It would pay off later when you are writing the essay and using the outline as basis. However, keep each line short so that each takes only one line.
There is no rule on how your essay or outline should be arranged but there are common structures or arrangements. For instance, some start from general and move to specific topics. Others use narrative or a chronological structure.
If you are about to create a reflective essay, creating an outline first would help you keep organization and finish faster. You can choose between topic and sentence outline. Be specific when creating a reflective essay outline and keep each line short.
Louise Ammentorp is a PhD candidate in Developmental Psychology, received her BA in Psychology and Art History from Rutgers University. In her dissertation writing project she explored the study of linguistic meditation and children’s understanding of conflict. Follow the updates on her most recent works here.