How to Write a College Essay Outline: Guide & Template

Every college student will have to write an essay at one point or the other – it is almost unavoidable and contributes to your overall evaluation as a student. This means that you must know how to write an essay as a student. However, writing an essay is less about writing and more about planning.

When writing a college format essay, you must ensure that you follow an outline. An outline makes it easy for students to organize their thoughts and helps them complete their essays in a shorter period.

Why Should You Create a College Outline?

A college essay outline provides a guideline for students to follow while writing an essay. It makes it easier for students to better understand the essay they are writing. An essay outline also allows students to present their opinions systematically.

A well-written essay makes it easier for the reader to understand the student’s perspective. And, generally, it is a prerequisite to write outstanding and captivating college essays (and all essays). In summary, essay outlines allow you to do your best and do it with ease.

How to Structure a College Essay

All essays are not the same. They address different topics and have different kinds of conclusions. However, all essays have the same structure. Whatever the type of essay you are writing, a college essay format must be divided into the following:

  1. Introduction: The introduction of your essay is your chance to magnetize your reader’s eyes and interest. A strong introduction will motivate your reader to read further into your essay. However, if your introduction is poorly written, no one will want to continue reading. You will have to write several essays when you are in school. Whatever the kind of essay you have to write, you must make sure that you start with a strong introduction. The main purpose of an introduction is to grab a reader’s attention. You need to ensure that your introduction serves that purpose. Another thing to be included in your college essay header is a thesis statement. This should inform your reader about what you will be discussing in the essay. Finally, the last part of your introduction will tell your reader what to expect from the body.
  2. Body: After getting your reader’s attention in the introduction, you can proceed to do the main business – the body. The body of your essay will contain a minimum of three paragraphs. Each of these paragraphs will talk about different ideas. You can write more or less than three ideas depending on how much information you have and your instructions. Make sure that you go into details in each of these paragraphs. Talk extensively about the idea that each paragraph covers—present facts, statistics, and any other information that you can use to support your ideas.
  3. Conclusion: This is the last and final part of your essay. At this point, you must have presented all your facts and impressed your reader with your ideas. The conclusion is usually the easiest part of the essay because it is a revision of all you have written. It is a summary of all that you have written in your body. It gives a rundown of all your ideas and gives a conclusion. A conclusion also reiterated the thesis statement in your introduction.

How to Write a College Essay Outline

If you are writing a college essay, you must make sure that it follows the structure given above. The outline is a more detailed structure of your essay. And an outline will depend on the kind of essay you are writing. Below is an example of a college essay outline:

The Introduction

  • Information to grab attention.
  • A brief insight into the main points of the essay.
  • A thesis statement


  • Paragraph 1
    • Idea
    • Evidence (Facts, Statistics, and anything else to support the idea).
  • Paragraph 2
    • Idea
    • Evidence (Facts, Statistics, and anything else to support the idea).
  • Paragraph 3
    • Idea
    • Evidence (Facts, Statistics, and anything else to support the idea).


  • Reiterate the thesis statement
  • Reiterate the points in the body
  • Fade out

This example above represents a simple outline for a college format essay.

The format of your essay should also be a secondary part of your outline. You should get the writing format from your supervisor or lecturer. If you can’t get it from your supervisor, you can also check for the institution’s standard to know the format to follow. However, if you must do it on your own, use a legible font and make sure it is well-formatted.

If you want to make college essay more engaging, check out this essay sample to get inspired for your own writing:

College Essay

Growing up and having been born in the South American country of Venezuela, I understood the world as a delicate network of dirty streets and alleys. I could only relate to the crumbed up houses that were only a necessary need more than a luxury to us. The streets were filled with people who were only speaking in the Venezuelan dialect. I was known as the half generation since I had immigrated at an early age. I migrated to the U.S about one and a half years ago. My family was however left behind in Venezuela as I perused my education in the United States of America.

I have learnt a few traditions in the schools and school system for the period that I have been here. I could easily identify myself to a few social groups since I had an interest in learning the foreign culture that I had come across. Being from a Christian background, I understand he morals and values that should be held as a student. While in Venezuela, my family had moved from the large conservative community to the large cities where I realized an enormous significance in the diversity and I was able to appreciate the American multiracialism.

It has made me embrace different cultures and gain the ability to live with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I have been volunteering at a hospital here in America, and I have been able to interact with people from various nationalities, especially the doctors and nurses. I am now aware of the effects of different cultures that are around me. It has fascinated me by knowing how the American towns can be conventional and have different cultures all in one basket. In this exposure, I have been able to connect with other people freely and not forget who I am, a Venezuelan in the half generation.


It would be best to create an outline before you write any essay. You should not ignore or underestimate the importance of an outline when writing a college essay. An outline makes essay writing easier, faster, and more interesting.

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