What does it mean to reflect effectively? Why does it matter?

Guide to the Role of Effective Reflection in Personal College Essay







At Ivy Central, we help students look inwards to write essays that showcase the most honest version of themselves. We encourage students to brainstorm ideas for numerous iterations until they are satisfied with the version that represents them the best. In our experience, reflection is key to an outstanding and memorable essay. The best essays are also the ones that are personal and honest.

On the surface, reflection seems easy. In reality, it isn’t. Reflecting is more than just going down the memory lane. It is about thinking about how you have grown as a person, mapping those milestones, and thinking deliberately. To string an outstanding narrative through reflection needs practice because like anything else, this is a skill and it takes time to build.

Reflection seems to be difficult for multiple reasons:

·       It needs you to confront your past; something you may not always be comfortable doing because it could be painful.

·       Sometimes, you struggle to remember events from your past. Memory distorts facts.

·       It is hard to think deeply and deliberately. Distractions often get in the way.

·       you are afraid of being judged. Therefore, your voice gets drowned in the multitude of voices that tell you who you should be rather than who you are.

Here are 5 strategies to help you reflect effectively:

1.     Write a running resume, including all of your achievements. Think deeply about why you took up an activity and what you gained from it.

2.     Journal your ideas: Carry a pocket diary to jot down essay ideas on the go.

3.     Record an unusual day: For instance, you had a bad day at the chemistry lab. Break it down into why it was bad and if it was all that bad. There are always takeaways from bad days.

4.     Try Mindfulness techniques that involve your sensory organs. This will help you become more imaginative.

5.     Reflect through observation. Watch the mundane and write your thoughts about it. This could include something as simple as the movement of trees. It is important to call attention to detail.


In order to reflect effectively, you need to :

1.     Be mindful

2.     Call attention to detail

3.     Accept your own unique way of looking at the world

4. Get started. Often, writing your first draft will prompt many ideas you’d not tapped into.

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