Descriptive essays are assigned to upper class high school students and first year college students to teach them how make their readers share the students’ feelings about a subject. A good essay must paint a picture for the reader and also convey a deeper meaning or mood. A strong conclusion to a descriptive essay must show the reader why the essay is valuable.

Personal Meaning

St. Cloud State advises writers to consider why the particular situation, object or location they wrote about matters. Begin with your subject’s personal meaning. If you describe your dorm room, for example, you should have used figurative language throughout the essay to show how you feel about the room. The conclusion should say why you feel that way. If you show pride through your description, you could begin your conclusion stating that you’re the first person in your family to attend college or that you doubted your ability to be on your own at first. This step should take several sentences.

Universal Meaning

Next, show why the reader should care about what you’ve written. The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina advises that you ask yourself, “So what?” Use the question to connect your personal experience to some greater truth. If you have pride in your dorm room because you are more mature than you assumed, for example, you could discuss that milestone and why it is important. You could allude to this meaning, describing how proud you felt when an older relative visited and complimented your maturity, or you could spell it out. This section should also take several sentences and could end your paper.

Circling Back

Another option put forward by the UNC Writing Center is to end by reconnecting to the introduction of your paper. If you wrote about your family’s vacation spot when you were a young child, you could end the essay with a sentence or two saying how excited you are to go back there now that you are older. This option should get your reader to think back to the beginning of your paper when you first mentioned the location and ponder your work. This last section should only contain one or two sentences.

Common Pitfalls

Butte College warns students the conclusion of the paper should remind the reader of the meaning that was implied throughout the essay. If your conclusion seems shocking or appears to change what you had implied earlier, you will need to make changes. For example, if you describe your dorm room to show your pride in it but your conclusion talks about how you miss privacy, the mismatch needs correcting. Review your essay to make sure the conclusion fits the rest of the paper. Everything should fit together logically to ensure your reader keeps up with you.