How to write a winning scholarship essay about your academic goals

Have you ever opened up a scholarship application only to find that you have to write yet ANOTHER scholarship essay, this time about your academic goals? We get it. There’s a lot of writing involved when you’re applying! Well, we’re here to guide you through your academic goals essay, with scholarship essay tips and a template. We’ve even got a surprise for you at the end that will save you time on your scholarship applications.

1) Start brainstorming and writing as early as possible.

2) understand your current goals of where you are now, and your future goals of where you want to be., 3) stay positive., 4) keep it personal., 5) spell check., 6) be proud of your academic goals essay., what are you studying right now, what do you enjoy, what are you not-so-crazy about in your current studies, what do you want to achieve in college, what things outside of pure academics, might complement your academic goals, how will your academic goals help you achieve other goals, what has inspired these goals, how will you hold yourself accountable with your academic goals, bonus: let your academic goals influence your college class planning, it’s here your academic goals essay brainstorm template, extra bonus: apply for scholarships more easily, with going merry .

Student writing academic goals essay

6 tips for scholarship essay success

Writing any scholarship essay takes time, thought, and energy. The earlier you start, the better!

Your goals today may change tomorrow. Think about where you are now in your high school career – what are you studying that you love? What would you like to change? What do you aim to accomplish in college? Ask yourself these questions and write down those goals.

No one is perfect – we all have our hardships and our downfalls. But think positively when it comes to your academic goals. If you didn’t do so hot in one subject, try not to include that exact phrasing in the essay, but think about how you can turn that around into a positive.

Similar to personal statements , share your story – a moment that brought you to where you are today. Especially for local scholarships, the providers want to feel like they’re supporting real people to achieve their academic dreams. So make sure you share enough personal details about where you are and where you want to be.

Using a tool like Grammarly helps check your spelling and grammar as you’re writing. Ask a friend, family member, or expert to review your academic goals essay before you submit it with your scholarship application. This will help your writing for college appear polished and professional.

You did it! You wrote it! That’s your work, and now it’s up to the scholarship providers to review and accept your application.

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Student writing academic goals essay with Going Merry

Points to consider while writing your academic goals scholarship essay:

Think about your current studies in high school. If you’re a high school junior, think about what classes you’re currently taking, and what you plan to take next year as a senior. If you’re a high school senior, reflect on your last two semesters of classes. What’s your curriculum look like? You might be taking an English class, Math, a focused class, such as Sociology, maybe a World Religions course, Geography, Government and an elective such as music, art, or physical education.

High school student study books

We all know a high school teacher who made going to class enjoyable because of their personality – OR – we just really loved the subject (No one? Just us? Okay…it was Mr. Nixon’s Law class that made research and debating against classmates fun for us).

Capitalize on the enjoyable aspects of that class in your academic goals essay. Explain how your teacher made the class engaging in a way that helped you retain information while also enjoying the class. Consider what the ideal academic class would look like in college. Would you aim to take a similar course in college where the professor promotes engaged learning? Or would you prefer to sit in a lecture hall where you can listen, digest detailed information, write down notes, and ask questions as needed? Think about your learning style as you organize your academic goals essay.

Going back to the point of staying positive, think through a subject that you’re currently not too thrilled about, and get creative with how you can turn that into an academic goal.

Ex: Statistics was one of the most challenging subjects of my junior year curriculum. However, I know I’ll need to have sufficient knowledge of the subject to major in Psychology in college. My goal is to find a study buddy – a colleague, a tutor, someone skilled in the subject, to improve my understanding of the subject so I can later help patients understand research study statistics in the future.

It might be a 3.5 GPA. Or you might want to walk across the stage on graduation day with summa cum laude cords. Maybe you want to become president of the student government association on campus.

The great thing about college is that you’re furthering your education, and you’re growing as a person! You’re learning about yourself, how you work, how you interact, and there are so many opportunities to get involved on campus. Think about how these fits in with your academic goals by naming any organizations, department clubs, and honor societies that catch your eye.

How might your near-term academic goals help you in your future (e.g. career after college)–or how might they help others (e.g. your friends, family, future customers/patients)? Think long-term: what will your current academic goals help you achieve further down the line? Whom might that impact?

Ex: Taking 18 credits helped us knock out our required wellness course during the second semester of our freshman year of college. By sophomore year, we could focus on classes related to our major and enjoy time after class. We later graduated a semester early thanks to study habits and credits. We spent time at the on-campus career center, working through mock interviews. Then, we later landed a job soon after graduation, working for a company and helping them bring on new customers.

All of this happened as a result of creating academic goals to plan classes early and work through those credits.

Everyone finds inspiration from different outlets. Whether it’s your parents, a teacher, your guidance counselor, classmates, siblings, or even an athlete, briefly describe who inspired these goals. Heck, you might have inspired yourself to make these goals! If it wasn’t someone who inspired you, discuss what inspired you to set these goals in your academic goals essay.

Writing down goals for ourselves is great. It makes our goals seem more concrete once we talk or write about them. Now, it’s time to make those goals happen! Toward the end of your academic goals essay, you might want to explicitly state your plan for holding yourself accountable to these goals — this will seem impressive to a scholarship provider who wants to make sure their award money is going to someone who’s serious about their future.

How might you stay accountable? Maybe your best friend can text you every Wednesday to check in with you mid-week on your progress. Or maybe that’s too much, and you’ll just set a reminder on your phone to check in with yourself once a week. Or maybe you’re a real planner– and you’ve created clear milestones for the next couple years, and you’ll check in regularly to make sure you’re hitting them. Whatever it is, bringing your lofty academic goal down to concrete steps is likely to make your academic goals essay stronger. 

Student writing academic goals essay with Going Merry

Don’t just think of your scholarship essay on academic goals as a chore that you complete and then never look at again. Once you’ve written it, let it help serve as your beacon as you decide what majors or classes to take, or what student organizations to join.

Then you can plan your semesters accordingly. For example:

  • Jot down your goals for your class schedule, what you plan to do with your time before, after, and in between classes.
  • Consider what time of day you would be most effective in taking the classes necessary to meet your academic goals. Are you a night owl or a morning person? Do you need lots of time between classes to really digest the material?
  • How many classes (or credits) do you plan to take? You can take a full load of classes, usually up to 18 credits per semester depending on the school, without going over your tuition limit, to help give you a lighter load your junior and senior years. Or, you can take the standard 12 – 16 credits per semester to avoid overloading your schedule and leaving room for socializing and other activities. This may also affect your graduation year. So if part of your academic goals (or your plan for reducing tuition ) requires you to graduate early — you’ll also want to plan this out!

Ready to start brainstorming to write your essay?

Print this sheet – OR – if you want to fill out this sheet digitally, make a copy to save and edit on your device by going to File > Download > Microsoft Word, OpenDocument Format, etc.

Also, check out this helpful list of the 10 most common scholarship essay topics!

Top 10 Most Common Scholarship Essay Prompts Graphic

Feeling more confident about your academic goals scholarship essay? Great! 

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Academic Goals

Academic Goals

Whether you’re a high schooler striving for acceptance into your dream college or a busy mom going back to school, it’s important for students to set academic goals for themselves.

Your academic achievements can lead to success in your career, fulfillment in yourself, and great exercise for your brain. Whatever your goals are, you shouldn’t aim to please anyone but yourself. Set your goals and work hard for them.

What Are You Working Towards?

Your academic goals should reflect the desires you have for your life. If you want to be a doctor, you must set your academic goals accordingly.

The best way to set your goals is first to determine where you want to end up. Start by asking yourself what your passions are in life, and what kind of academics would let you enjoy those passions. Different paths of life require various levels of education.

While the first thing that often comes to mind when you think academics is college, college may not lead you to where you want to be. For instance, if your passion is hair styling or cosmetology, you should set your academic sights on cosmetology school rather than a traditional college.

On the flip side, someone who wants to be a lawyer has to put a big focus on college as well as graduate programs. They may very likely also want to consider things like internships for additional experience.

As you can see, it’s vital that you have a clear endgame in order to set the best goals for yourself. Even if your goal is as simple as learning more about business, finance, or a certain topic, clarifying this within yourself will help you set, and keep your goal.

Setting Up for Success

Once you’ve decided what you are looking to get from your academic experience, there are a few things you should focus on before settings your goals. To set goals like an expert , focus on positivity, realism, and objectives.

Be Positive

There are many benefits to thinking positively . In fact, you can achieve things like an increased life span, lower depression risk, and even a better immune system all by practicing positive thinking. Those who think positively also see fewer stress impacts in their life along with better cardiovascular health.

So, what can a positive attitude do for your academic goals?

As a matter of fact, positive thinking can actually lead to better academic success. Studies show that your outlook on life matters just as much as your IQ and work ethic. A particular study on young children showed that kids excelled in the subjects they were good at. However, they were also good at the subjects that they enjoyed, thus associating a positive mentality towards academic achievement.

This kind of attitude and its impact, of course, follows us through our academic career, whether that entails a GED or a doctoral degree.

Although science and studies back this theory up, many people believed in a positive attitude long before there was any documented proof. Positive thoughts help keep you on the right track and keep negative feelings that may slow you down at bay.

A quick tip to staying positive through your academic goals is to keep them positive. For example:

  • Incorrect: I won’t be late for class anymore
  • Correct: I will make it on time for all my classes
  • Incorrect: I won’t fail my philosophy class
  • Correct: I will get an A in my philosophy class

It seems like such a small change, but the positive words replacing the negative words really make a huge impact on the way our minds take in our everyday tasks and academic goals.

Negative Thinking

According to experts, some clear signs of negative thinking can greatly impact not only your academic goals but your overall health and well-being. The four most common forms of negative self-talk include:



Filtering happens when you look at a situation and magnify the bad rather than the good. A negative mindset has you filtering out all of the good aspects within a situation so that you can only see the negative. A good tactic to eliminating this issue is to put a great focus on the positives.

Look at a situation through a positive filter, focusing on the good things instead of the bad things. For example, your professor canceled class on the night of a big presentation you’ve been working hard on and were looking forward to getting over with.

The positives could be that you now have more time to practice and perfect. Even if you feel you’re prepared enough, take the extra time to catch up on other work or relax before the stressful presentation.

The act of immediately blaming yourself for everything bad that happens is referred to as personalizing. Someone with a negative mindset is likely to think that everything is their fault. You may have a big paper due, and the school’s library computer network crashes.

Obviously, this situation isn’t your fault, but a negative thinker would put the pressure on themselves. They should have started the paper earlier; they should have invested in their own laptop, etc.

Someone who practices catastrophizing thinks the absolute worst is bound to happen. Your alarm didn’t go off, and you arrived to class 5 minutes late, so you automatically think your professor hates you and is going to fail you.

When you polarize, it means that you can only view a situation as completely good or completely bad. With this type of negative mindset, there is no middle ground, no in-between. If something isn’t absolutely perfect, it’s considered a failure and therefore a completely negative situation.

Be Realistic

It’s important that the goals we set for ourselves academically are realistic. Setting unreachable goals is setting yourself up for failure, and nothing crushes us quite like failing to reach our goals.

But how can we make sure our goals both align with the outcome we want and maintain a realistic level of achievement? Experts recommend following Professor Robert S. Rubin of Saint Louis University’s SMART goals:

Let’s dive into each of these attributes that all of your realistic goals should fall under.

Broad-based goals don’t help anyone achieve much. Sure, you could make yourself a goal of getting up earlier, but what does that mean, exactly? The goal is so unspecific that you can bend and flex it to fit your needs, rather than using the goal to better yourself.

And so, if you typically get up at 9 am every morning and decide you want to get up earlier, you could technically justify to yourself that 8:45 am is earlier. However, if you set the specific goal of getting up at 7:30 am every morning, not only will you achieve greater discipline, but you’ll probably get a lot more done in your day.

When setting specific goals, remember to define the who, what, where, why, and how of the goal. These specifics will help you attain your goal with more efficiency. Take the waking up earlier example:

  • Incorrect: I want to wake up earlier.
  • Correct: I want to set the alarm to wake up at 7:30 am every morning, so I can get extra work done, freeing up more time for sleep and extracurricular activities as well as improving my grades.

If you wish to track your progress—and most people do—your goals should be measurable. Rather than throwing a blanket statement out there of wanting to raise your grades, you should set a measurable goal.

Ask yourself how much, how many, and how you’ll know when it’s accomplished. Otherwise, your goal is some outlandish dream floating around that doesn’t really have an endpoint. If you want to improve your grades, set a letter goal. Perhaps you’re currently at a C in a certain class, and you want to be at a B. That’s a measurable goal.

Part of being realistic is making sure it’s actually possible to achieve your goal. Before you set a goal for yourself, ask yourself two questions:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • What constraints would make this goal unachievable? (i.e., finances, time)

Perhaps you like to make weekly goals for your academics. You take a look at your workload for the week to find that you have several papers due and a few exams to study for by Friday. To say that you’ll finish it all by Monday night, thus freeing up your week, is probably not very achievable.

Instead, set realistic goals that let you achieve everything on time and with quality work. Make yourself a schedule, prioritizing in a way that lets you achieve your goals.

Your goals should matter to you and your life. Don’t set goals just for the sake of accomplishing something; do it for the betterment of your academic career. Ask yourself if the goal you’re thinking about is worthwhile. Is now the right time to do this? Will it benefit my loved ones and me? Is it going to hurt me more than help me?

Maybe you’re a full-time mom, but you really want to go back to school to get your master’s degree. Ask yourself if now is the right time. Can your family afford to miss you for several hours a week? Will it be a reasonable workload? Can your family take on the educational costs? Is your master’s important to you, or to someone pressuring you?

A timeline is what will help you actually achieve your goals. Goals without a deadline kind of just float there with no real beginning or end. Plan out a specific timeline for your goals, defining where you want to be at certain points.

Depending on your goals, you can lay out what you can get done today, what you want to have done in a few weeks, and where you want to be in a few months. You can also determine your end date. Time is especially important for short-term goals, like planning out your senior capstone presentation. You have a presentation date, so plan mini goals from now until that day.


It’s useful to note that some experts and authors have adopted the updated version of the SMART goal technique but adding on the “ER.” The “E” stands for evaluated, while the “R” stands for reviewed. Simply put, once you’ve nailed down your SMART goals, evaluate and review them to double-check that they’re realistic.

Set Objectives

Objective should be seen as steps and tools you can use and take to reach your goals. Setting objectives makes your overall goal seem less daunting and more achievable. Rather than focusing on the overall goal, you can set your sights on smaller, less intimidating feats.

For example, let’s say your ultimate goal is to lose 20 pounds. That in itself and alone can be a hefty task that seems miles away. However, setting objectives along the way will help you attain your goal. Try objectives like these:

  • Go to the gym three times per week
  • Cut sugar from my diet
  • Drink more water

Any of these things alone will not magically make you drop 20 pounds, but each of them achieved together gets your closer to your end goal.

The same goes for academics. It’s one thing to say that you want to get an A in a class—everyone wants to get A’s. Setting smaller objectives will help you get there. Take it one assignment at a time and set objectives for projects. It will be much easier to focus on getting A’s on your exams than on the whole semester, and every A assignment gets your closer to that final A.

Tips for Accomplishing Your Academic Goals

Once you have set up realistic and positive goals to attain in your academic career, you need to stick to them in order to actually accomplish them. Staying with your goals for the long haul can sometimes be a little difficult, especially when other easier situation come up. Use these tips to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Write Them Down

We’ve all heard that writing things down helps us remember them better. Writing is used all throughout academics—we take notes, we write things on notecards while we study, teachers write things on the board.

The key here is the emphasis on the word “write.” By write, we don’t mean type or take a picture of it. We’re talking good old fashion pen to paper kind of writing.

According to psychological studies , writing things down with pen and paper can help us remember things better. Various experiments showed that those who took notes longhand rather than on a laptop did better on exams and overall had a higher quality of learning.

Therefore, when setting goals, we follow the same logic. Writing down your goals locks it into place, making it more concrete and therefore of more importance in your mind. Picture yourself setting a goal in your mind without writing it anywhere. It becomes lofty, a mere possibility. When you write it down, it seems more real, something to attain rather than something to maybe consider doing someday.

So, whether you write it on a sticky note and keep it on your desk or detail it in a journal, you should write your goals down somewhere.

Get a Journal

Some people might refer to this as a dream journal or an aspiration diary; either way, keeping a more detailed record of your goals can help you stay on top of them.

When you use a journal for academic goals, it lets you not only write down your initial goal but keep track of smaller objectives and progress. If you’re really into writing, you can even keep a personal journal throughout your academic goals.

Write down how you’re doing, how you can improve, and how you’re feeling about your goals. Add details to the goals and pen why you want to achieve your academic pursuits.

Look at your goal journal like you would your academic assignments. When you read a book for a class, you take notes as you read it, so you remember key aspects and can keep track of where you are. Your goal journal should follow that same context.

Not only will you be able to track and look back at previous entries, but your journal will align with the methods you already use in your academics, fitting right into your routines.

Find Accountability

Many students find it helpful to have an accountability partner or system of some sort. It’s easier to do something when another person is pushing you to do so. Accountability partners keep you on track, checking in regularly to make sure you’re at the right stage in your goal process.

Often, accountability partners will have the same goals, but they don’t have to. While you’re trying to achieve your goal, your partner may be working on something totally different. However, you both remain accountable with and for each other.

This is a great way to ensure that you don’t fall off schedule, and it’s also a nice way to connect with a friend and increase levels of trust and responsibility.

If you have a hard time finding an accountability partner, there are other ways of staying accountable. For example, if you have an academic goal that requires you to do something every day, you can set an alarm or a reminder on your phone. When the alarm goes off, you do what you have to do.

You can also use a planner or a calendar to keep you accountable. At the beginning of every month, go through the days and write down what you need to do each day. Then, when you look at your planner each day, your objectives and goals are already written as a reminder.

Sticky notes are also great tools to use during stages of academic goal-setting. Place sticky note reminders in places you spend a lot of time, like on your refrigerator or on your desk. Use bright colors that will capture your attention. When you’ve completed the task, rip the note up and throw it out—you won’t believe how satisfying that feeling is!

Stay Flexible

As much as you want to achieve your academic goals, it’s important to note that we live in an ever-changing world with lots of surprises. Life is unpredictable, so it may be of great help to you if you have a flexible mindset.

Don’t be flexible in a way that allows you to be too lax with your goals, but remain open enough where you can adjust your goals if need be.

For example, if your goal was to get a 4.0 in a semester and you fail a pop quiz, it will no longer be possible to attain that 4.0. Don’t panic—just adjust. Just because you can’t attain your original goal doesn’t mean you should abolish it altogether. Re-evaluate your options and set a new goal. A 3.8 GPA is still impressive and completely doable.

Flexibility in your goals will also help you remain positive because it allows you to achieve success even if you don’t hit your initial goal. So, relax a little bit and remember that life is not perfect, and neither are you—and that’s okay!

Why Are Academic Goals Important?

At certain stages in our academic careers, we have all questioned the importance of what we’re doing, what we’re learning, and why everyone is so focused on what we’ll achieve. Many high schoolers in particular hit stages where they find it hard to believe that their grades now will determine their entire futures.

While it may be a bit of a stretch to claim that one F on a test will decide whether you’re a busboy for life or a successful businessman, it is still true that academic success is likely to lead to overall life and career success.

When students of any age set goals, they can achieve the following :

  • Improved academic performance
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased pride and satisfaction in performance
  • Improved self-confidence

The first of these is fairly typical: setting academic goals can help students improve their academic performance. However, the following three have further implications for the rest of your life.

Students who set goals are more motivated than those who don’t, which make sense. If you don’t have an endgame in mind, it seems like you’re working for nothing, and that doesn’t seem worthwhile at all. Setting goals are important, especially at a young age, so that students can achieve the motivation they need to go further in life.

At the same time, setting goals can have a big impact on self-confidence, pride, and satisfaction. When you set realistic goals and achieve them, you have a great sense of self-fulfillment and worth. You set your mind on something, and you did it. Having confidence in your abilities is such a strong feature to have. Setting academic goals can be a huge confidence builder.

Think about it: everyone starts their life off in academics. That’s where the first goals come into play. Young children have goals set by their parents, like when their child learns to read or count or spell. But eventually, there’s a transition where children start to set their own goals.

Practicing this habit sets us up for bigger goals—life-long and career goals. Academic goals are just the building blocks for every goal we’ll set for the rest of our lives, whether they be in education, family, or health.

Reward Yourself

You’ve done it: you have set your goals, you detailed your objectives, you tracked your progress, and you finally did it. You achieved your academic goals.

Whether this goal was short-term, like an A in a difficult honors class, or long-term, like walking across that graduation stage and moving that tassel, an achievement is an achievement. You put good, honest, hard work into your goals, and now it’s time to celebrate.

Don’t write off any academic goal as no big deal. No matter the size, your goals were always and should be important to you. It’s important to recognize hard work, so even if your goal was personal and unknown to others, you should reward yourself.

Just as a diploma often earns you a graduation party, achieving that A deserves a celebration. Do something for yourself: get a manicure, treat yourself to dessert at your favorite restaurant, or buy that video game you’ve been waiting for to avoid distraction.

By putting in the work and reaching that benchmark, you earned something nice. Treat yourself, and then set your next goal!

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how to write an academic goal essay

/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="how to write an academic goal essay"> Cornell University --> Graduate School

Writing your academic statement of purpose.

Student typing on a laptop

What is it?

Each applicant must submit an academic statement of purpose (ASOP). The ASOP is one of your primary opportunities to help the admissions committee understand your academic objectives and determine if you are a good match for the program you are applying to. The goal of this document is to impress upon the admissions committee that you have a solid background and experience in your area of interest and that you have the potential to be successful in graduate study.

Why is it important?

The ASOP is one of the most important pieces of your graduate school application because it:

  • Gives the reviewers an understanding of your academic background and interests.
  • Allows you to illustrate in your own words what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Helps them determine if you are a good match for the program to which you are applying.
  • Shows your communication style and ability.

Information to Include

Introduce yourself and your academic interests.

  • Provide simple background information on your area of interest and how it became of particular interest to you.
  • Here you can also share with them how and why you decided to pursue a graduate degree in this field.

Describe your academic background, preparation, and training

  • Skills you have learned from academic, lab, or research experiences (e.g., undergraduate coursework, research opportunities, scholarly writings, jobs in the field, presentations, etc.). Whenever possible, give specific examples and illustrate the points you are making, don’t just simply tell them.
  • Research you conducted – project title or focus, research mentor, your specific role, what you learned and the outcome. If there were challenges, don’t be afraid to mention what you learned from them. This shows persistence and resilience in the face of adversity– these are also things they are looking for!
  • Important papers or thesis project you completed, as well as anything scholarly beyond your academic degree requirements.
  • Relevant work or internship experience as related to the field you are applying to.

Show them you are making an informed decision

  • Indicate what you would like to study in graduate school in enough detail to convince the faculty that you understand the scope of research in the discipline and are aware of research trends.
  • Show them that you have thoroughly researched the program, its faculty, and research focus areas, and why you are applying to this program specifically. This will help you write a more informed essay that is relatable to the faculty who will be reviewing your application.
  • Describe why you are a good fit for the program and why the program is a good fit for you.
  • If there are specific faculty you are interested in working with, check the program’s ASOP instructions and determine how best to mention this in your essay. Some programs require you to name a professor(s) with whom you would like to work.
  • Are there any aspects of the program that are of particular interest to you (immersion program, opportunities for collaboration with others outside of the institution, research centers associated with the program, etc.)?
  • Include information that is important to you outside of the program – supportive environment for first-year students, access to amazing literary resources, opportunities to participate in professional/career development programming, etc.
  • Professional goals – you may wish to outline what you plan to do after you complete the program as a way of underscoring the importance of your choice to pursue graduate study.
  • Share any extracurricular opportunities you have had that show leadership, ability to work with a diverse group of people, teaching skills, etc.
  • Research degree applicants should identify specific faculty members whose research interests align with your own interests. 

Important Things to Remember

  • Pay attention and follow instructions very carefully – every program is different and some have specific items/topics they want you to address.
  • Unless otherwise noted, this is an academically focused essay, not necessarily a personal essay. You will likely add some personal details here and there, but be sure to keep the focus on your academic background and future potential.
  • Proofread and pay close attention to details – they really matter!
  • Have others from a variety of perspectives read your essay before you submit it – they should be looking at it in terms of content, style, and grammar. Remember, those outside of your field can provide you with valuable perspective and feedback.
  • Keep in mind that you can continue editing your ASOP after you have submitted it to programs with earlier deadlines.

Length, Format and Tone

  • Unless otherwise noted one to two pages in a standard font and size is typical.
  • Include your full name and proposed program of study at the top of each page – if faculty are not reading an electronic version of your essay, pages can become separated.
  • Write with confidence and in an active voice – doing this makes your sentences clear and less wordy/complicated.
  • Language should be positive and focused. Since faculty are the ones reviewing your application, it is fine to use discipline-specific terminology, tone, and style in your ASOP.

Final Checklist

  • Described your academic background in enough detail to show your experience and preparedness in the field?
  • Shown that you are a good fit for the program you are applying to?
  • Defined why you want a graduate degree in this field?
  • Demonstrated that you are self-motivated, persistent, competent, and have the skills necessary to be successful in graduate school?
  • Followed the ASOP instructions as defined by the program you are applying to?
  • Polished, proofread, and had others review your ASOP?

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how to write an academic goal essay

October 13, 2022

How to Write a Goal Statement for Graduate School

How to write a goal statement for graduate school

Note: This article uses the terms “statement of goals,” “goal statement,” and “statement of purpose” interchangeably, to reflect the variable language used in graduate application prompts.

Motivations matter

Your statement of purpose is one of the best ways you can sell the admissions committee on you as a well-qualified, purposeful candidate. A strong goal statement will demonstrate your knowledge of your chosen field, your suitability for it, as well as your intellectual development, maturity, and ability to write and think clearly. Further, it will prove that you understand what you’re getting into and that you are committed to attending and completing a demanding academic program.  This is important, because graduate admissions committees want to know that you understand and are realistic about your academic and professional goals, and how your chosen program will serve you in reaching these goals.   

As a first step in planning the content of your essay, think about your motivations for your career choice. What first got you interested in this course of study? What experiences have confirmed that this academic focus is ideal for you? When did you realize that this wasn’t just a casual interest but a serious and sustained interest that has become the basis of a career? Additionally, identify specialty areas that interest you most. If you are applying for an art history MA, for example, name artistic traditions, historical time periods, admired artists, and methods of analysis that appeal to you. Refer to particular scholars who have shaped the field, and professors, especially those at your target school , who will play critical roles in your academic training.

Share some “snapshots” of the experiences that made you want to enter this field. As you consider which anecdotes to share, include those that will reveal your career motivations behind the financial. Additionally, write about elements of your background that make you stand out from the crowd of other applicants who want to achieve much the same thing.

Show your prep work

Your undergraduate major may be a starting point to reveal the foundation you’ve already laid, but you may have also taken post-graduate courses, earned a certification, or worked in the field for a period of time. These activities provide a track record of your commitment to this career or field of study. Explain not only what you know about your field, but also what you don’t know. Openly conveying this  awareness shows you’ve done your homework about why you need this program and how you will apply the knowledge afterward.

Personality counts

Being well suited to a career involves much more than academic talent alone. Your personality, aptitudes, and interests also play a role. For example, some people enter the academic world because they have a burning desire to teach; others are born researchers whose dream job would involve spending all day in a lab. If you are going for a social work degree, can you see yourself handling the constant flow of listening to people’s serious, often heart-breaking problems? Do you have the balance of empathy and boundaries so that this is suitable for you? Think about your personality profile and how you have discovered in what field, and in what role, you will fit.

Work with a grad school admissions expert to create a statement of purpose that gets you accepted >>

Consider your “fit” with your target school

You may have always dreamed of getting your degree from an Ivy League school, but remember: The best school for you is the one that fits YOUR needs, and the school where you also fulfill the needs of the program. 

How do you assess whether there is mutual “fit”? Read the program’s website closely; read student profiles and blogs, read up on faculty profiles and identify who has done work in your field of interest, written books or taught courses that appeal to you. If you plan to apply for teaching or research assistantships, have you contacted faculty members with experience or publications in your area of interest who could sit on your committee? Have you come up with a “short list” of courses that will bring you closer to your career goals?

What sorts of departmental opportunities exist, such as special labs, study-abroad programs, internships, or clubs or monthly workshops? How does the location of the program suit your academic, professional, and personal goals? Make sure it is clear to both you and to your target school why you are a perfect match.

What’s your post-graduate plan?

How well versed are you in the career options available to you after earning your degree? Be prepared to identify the potential places of employment and/or job functions you hope to get after completing the program. Your research can include internet and library searches, talking to people already in your field of choice, and reading articles on industry websites. 

If you are headed into academia, do you envision yourself on the “tenure track,” teaching and researching at a large university? Or teaching at a community college where you may have a private practice on the side? Will you be able to achieve your career goals with your master’s degree, or will a Ph.D. be the natural next step? Be clear in your statement about where you hope to land professionally or academically at the end of the program. 

Remember that graduate school is one step in an ongoing and flexible process. No school requires that you “promise” them you’ll assume a certain career post-graduation. Still, even if you anticipate that your career could take you in several different directions, try to commit to a single clear career path in your application. You can always change your mind!

If you would like the guidance and support of experienced admissions consultants as you work on your statement of purpose or other parts of your grad school application, Accepted is here to help. We offer a range of services that can be tailored exactly to your needs.


For 25 years, Accepted has helped applicants gain acceptance to top undergraduate and graduate programs. Our expert team of admissions consultants features former admissions directors, PhDs, and professional writers who have advised clients to acceptance at top programs worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, INSEAD, MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern.  Want an admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Download our free report: GET YOUR GAME ON: Preparing for Your Grad School Application

Related Resources:

  • 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Graduate School Statement of Purpose , a free guide
  • How Personal is Too Personal?
  • How to Write a Great Statement of Purpose, a podcast episode

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how to write an academic goal essay

  • November 30, 2022
  • Academic Advice

How To Write an Academic Essay: A Beginner’s Guide 

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During college, you must participate in many writing assessments, one of the most important being academic essays. Unfortunately, only a few are well-informed about the process of academic writing. 

If you’re reading this, you probably want to learn how to write an academic essay. Follow our guide! Here we’ll introduce the concept of the academic essay, the five components of an academic essay, the format of an academic essay, and more.

Ready to master your academic essay writing? Let’s go!

What Is an Academic Essay?

An academic essay is writing created to initiate debate, defend an idea, or present a new point of view by supporting it with evidence. 

One of the most important components that differentiate it from typical essays you have written in high school is supporting ideas with evidence. If you claim that, for example, “divorces have a negative impact on young children,” you need to find sources that support your argument to make it more convincing.

Interpreting facts is another essential element of a successful academic piece of writing. Academic essays should be written in a formal tone, with a set structure, and have a critical, based, and objective viewpoint. You should be able to understand and transmit different points of view to your readers in a simple but formal manner. 

Are you still trying to figure out what steps you should take to start writing? Keep scrolling!  

How To Write an Academic Essay

how to write an academic goal essay

Writing an academic essay can initially seem intimidating, especially if you are unfamiliar with the rules and requirements. 

The time and effort spent on the writing task might differ depending on the topic, word limit, deadline, and other factors. However, the key steps, including preparing for the writing, creating a thesis statement, introduction, conclusion, and editing process, must be included in every academic writing style. 

By following the detailed list of actions below, you can start and finish your essay in no time.

Prepare to write your essay

Before going into the technical part of the writing process, one piece of advice you should keep in mind is planning. Planning is as important as the writing process. If you plan correctly, you will have sufficient time to perform every step successfully. Failure to plan will lead to a messy essay and, worst-case scenario, an unfinished writing piece. 

Understand your assignment

First and foremost, before you take any action regarding writing your essay, you must ensure you have clearly understood every tiny detail that your instructor has provided you—this step will determine your academic essay’s effectiveness. But why is that? Understanding the assignment in detail will leave no space for any irrelevant information that would lead to wasted time and, ultimately, a lower grade. 

Develop your essay topic

If your instructor doesn’t give you a specific topic, you should spend some time finding a topic that fits the requirements. Finding a topic sounds easy, but finding the right one requires more than just a simple google search.

So, ensure you develop an original topic, as it adds more value to your academic writing. However, ensure that there is enough evidence from other sources to help you back up your arguments. You can do this by researching similar topics from trusted sources.

Do your research and take notes

Once you determine the topic, go on and do some research. This part takes a lot of effort since there are countless sources online, and obviously, you have to choose some of the best. 

Depending on your topic, there might be cases where online sources are not available, and you’ll also have to visit local libraries. Whatever the case, you need to take notes and highlight the components you want to include in your essay. 

A quick tip: Go back to your topic often to avoid getting swayed or influenced by other less relevant ideas. 

Come up with a clear thesis statement

An excellent academic essay contains a strong thesis statement. A strong thesis statement successfully narrows your topic into a specific area of investigation. It should also intrigue your readers and initiate debate. 

A good thesis statement is:

  • NOT a question  
  • NOT a personal opinion

Create a structure

After gathering all the necessary information, you can begin outlining your main ideas. The primary academic essay structure is classified into the following 

  • Introduction

Failure to maintain these three components in your academic essay will result in a poorly written assignment. Luckily, you can easily avoid that by following our guide.

Writing the introduction


Your essay will be divided into paragraphs of equal importance, but the introductory part should always stand out. You must make your introduction as presentable as possible and get the reader’s attention. Work on it as if you were to get graded only by the evaluation of that first paragraph. 

The purpose of the introduction is to demonstrate that your thoughts and ideas are logical and coherent. Also, depending on the word limit, you can use more than one paragraph.  

Hook the reader

All forms of writing benefit from an attractive hook. If you have no idea of how to hook the reader, you can go the safe way and choose a recent fact or statistic. Statistics will give your essay credibility, surprise the readers, and make them want to keep reading.  

Give background on the topic

Now that you have the reader’s attention, you should strive to expand the essay’s key points but to a limit since the introduction is only one part of the whole essay. You should generally explain what gaps from previous sources you will cover and what others have covered so far. 

Present your thesis statement

When introducing your thesis statement, you can present it as a statement of fact or controversial. If you decide to give a statement fact, it will be challenging to keep your audience engaged since facts can be easily proven. But presenting it more controversially will keep your audience awake and can even result in a better grade overall.

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Writing the body of your essay


The body part of your essay is where you’ll expand all of your ideas presented in the introduction. It’s essential to stay consistent and not include irrelevant information. Since it is the longest part of your essay, you can easily get lost, and to prevent that, it would be best to map an internal outline specific to each paragraph. This way, you know what to include and where. 

Paragraph structure

Each paragraph should follow a specific structure. It should begin with an introductory sentence that tells the reader the main ideas you will discuss in the paragraph. It’s advisable to point back to your thesis statement to identify the relationship between it and the existing idea. Also, ensure that each paragraph demonstrates new ideas.  

Length of the body paragraphs

Depending on the topic and the arguments you’ve gathered, it’s advisable not to exceed 200 words per paragraph in academic writing. If your paragraphs are too long and contain unnecessary wording, it will become difficult for the reader to follow your point. So keep them clear and concise.

Writing the conclusion

Congratulation, now you’ve made it to the last paragraph of your essay. The conclusion’s primary purpose is to summarize the ideas presented throughout your essay. Writing a good conclusion should take little time since you know what the essay contains. However, be aware of what points you should or shouldn’t include.

What to include in your conclusion 

A strong conclusion needs to have an introductory sentence. In some cases, if your instructor approves, it can include other areas that need to be investigated in the future. But at its core, it should only remind the reader about the main arguments discussed.

What not to include in your conclusion 

You should at all times refrain from including new ideas. Since the essay ends with the conclusion, don’t go into details or support new points. Doing that will confuse the reader and result in a poor grade. 

Editing your essay


Without a doubt, editing is just as important as writing. No matter how careful you are during writing, there’s a high possibility that there will be some slip-ups. These can range from spelling mistakes to grammar, punctuation, and so on. We suggest you spend time doing other things and return to the essay again. This will help you notice errors that you otherwise wouldn’t. 

Tips for Writing a Great College Essay

Now that you have a clear idea of the process of writing an academic essay, we have a few more tips: 

  • Always cite your sources
  • Gather enough sources to support your thesis statement
  • Keep your sentences short and comprehensive
  • Start the research as early as possible 
  • Do not skip revising 

The Bottom Line

Writing an academic essay is a complex task. But with the right tools, guidance, and willingness to learn from your mistakes, you will master academic writing in no time. Make sure to follow each of the abovementioned steps and practice as much as possible. And don’t forget to edit!

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how to write an academic goal essay

How to Write an Academic Essay: Guide and Tips

how to write an academic goal essay

A large portion of university and high school education is based on writing academic essays. They are most effective at demonstrating students’ knowledge of a subject and showcasing their abilities to gather and present information and data. In this guide from our essay writing service , we are going to explain to you how to write an excellent academic essay and show you the different types you can choose from.

What Is an Academic Essay?

In a nutshell, an academic essay is a structured form of writing students face in school, college, and university as a part of their curricula. The most common purposes of such writing are to either present some new pieces of information or to use existing facts and knowledge to deliver specific ideas. This type of assignment allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and creativity and encourages them to develop their ideas to communicate a message.

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Compared to other types of academic writing, essays are usually shorter in length and present the authors’ opinions to support their arguments. Here are some key features of an academic essay for you to keep in mind:

  • Conciseness — as a rule, essays are short; the length of such papers range from 200 to 500 words.
  • Topic — due to their short lengths, a perfect topic for an essay should be narrowed-down and not too broad.
  • Well-structured text — although essays can be considered as one of the least formal types of writing, they still need to have a solid structure and follow the proper academic paper format.
  • Clear central idea — every academic essay should deliver a specific point that should be clear and powerful (i.e. thesis statement).
  • Personal motivation — unlike other types of writing, essays often imply that their authors are personally interested in the subjects they are discussing.
  • Supporting facts, evidence, and examples — although essays may present an author’s personal beliefs and ideas, they should also provide arguments that support those ideas.

It helps to develop your academic writing skills early—as they are skills you will carry forward throughout your studies and lifetime. People who are good at writing academic essays also tend to be able to articulate themselves more clearly, and tend to have more confidence when speaking.

To fully understand how and when to use an academic essay, our custom writing service will describe the main types of them for you.

Academic Essay Example

Here is a perfect academic essay example from our research paper writer .

Types of Academic Essays

Academic writing can be categorized into four main types of essays that serve unique purposes—though some share similar structures. With that being said, the four types of academic papers are narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive.

Expository and persuasive types are most commonly seen in university curriculums as they are more scientific and objective. Narrative and descriptive essays are more subjective and engage your creativity. Now, let’s break down each type and look at each academic essay definition.

Narrative Essay

This type of writing requires the author to create a compelling story of practically anything imaginable. In other words, it is a super-condensed version of a novel. This type of essay requires students to demonstrate their creative abilities. Therefore, it implies the constant use of strong adjectives. Their use will help the author of an essay to create a strong, graphic picture for their story and enhance the audience's perception of the topic. Although telling a compelling story is basically the main purpose of this type of essay, there is much more to it than there seems. A well-written narration should also have a point that is “written between the lines”. Simply put, there should be a clear message delivered through the text. By putting a hidden message between the lines, you motivate the reader to read the paper in its entirety as it sparks their curiosity.

Read more about how to write a narrative essay .

Descriptive Essay

In short, in this type of essay, the author chooses a specific thing, experience, emotion, or idea and describes it for the reader. Just like with narrative writing, this style requires the author to be subjective and creative. And, just like a narrative essay, the author is meant to draw a picture in the audience’s eyes. Another key to success in writing a descriptive essay is carefully selecting words. Such a paper should evoke certain emotions in the reader and connect them to the object of discussion. Finally, the paper should describe the subject in simple terms. When the reader understands the subject well after reading an essay - that’s when you know you have written a stellar descriptive paper.

Expository Essay

Another type of academic writing — an expository essay is used to help readers understand subject matter by providing grounded information and facts. This type of writing requires its author to support all of the information included in the paper with valid evidence. An expository paper is no place for opinions or personal views on a subject. A quality paper should use analysis that consists of factual information on its subject. The author's key goal is to inform and educate the audience through clear logic and facts. Just to give you an example, this “How to Write an Academic Essay” article can be considered as expository writing.

Persuasive Essay

Writing a persuasive paper requires one to embrace the role of a salesman (or saleswoman). You can state an opinion, project, or idea which you then have to sell to your reader(s). The logic behind how you supply the reader(s) with information should be impenetrable, leaving them with no doubt that what you are expressing is the only truth they need to know. Cater your points carefully to avoid being pushy, and hide your sales tactic behind well-thought-out sentences. When it comes to defending an argument, you can use logical tactics, emotional tactics, or a mix of both; this depends on what you are attempting to argue.

Good Academic Essay Topics

Logically, topics will vary based on the style of writing you are creating. Sometimes you can find the same topic within separate academic essay categories, but the main content will always vary depending on the category of paper you write about. That being said, here are some good academic essay topics for high school and college students:

Narrative Essay Topics

  • Describe how you and your family survived the quarantine. Explain how it affected you.
  • Talk about your experience of being engaged in remote learning. How did it affect your grades and overall performance? Do you think that remote education is better or worse than the traditional alternative?
  • Write a story that explains the importance of technology in the modern person’s life.
  • Write a story that explains the value of every person’s contribution to the process of solving the global problem of climate change.

Descriptive Essay Topics

  • Describe a person who has had the biggest impact on your life.
  • What is the most significant recent event in global history?
  • Describe the experience of falling in love. How does it affect one’s personality?
  • Describe the most impactful piece of art or music you have ever seen. What traits do you think define powerful art?

Expository Essay Topics

  • Why does the rate of teen suicides keep increasing? What forces youth to commit suicide?
  • What can each individual do to contribute to the prevention of climate change and reduce the threats it brings with it?
  • What strategies can our society adopt to recover after the global pandemic as quickly and painlessly as possible?
  • George Floyd’s death and the police’s abuse of authority: What can we do to prevent future cases?

Persuasive/Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Should the government make relevant amendments to the constitution to restrict the actions permitted by police officers during arrests?
  • Should we keep on following self-distancing rules even now since the danger has diminished?
  • Gun control: Provide arguments for stricter gun control in the US.
  • Should technology (apart from those devices used for educational purposes) be banned in colleges?

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Proper Format for Your Academic Writing

Usually, an academic essay follows the standard 5-paragraph structure: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Moreover, each section will have its own unique internal structure. The introduction’s main goal is to introduce the topic and to reveal the essay’s main message (a.k.a. the thesis statement). The body paragraphs’ primary tasks are to defend the thesis with 3 sub arguments—1 per paragraph. Lastly, the conclusion is there to wrap up the entire argument and to leave a lasting impression in the form of an overall concluding statement. Down below we have presented a graphic organizer that illustrates the breakdown.

how to write an academic goal essay

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Start Off the Writing Process by Creating an Outline

Before commencing any academic writing, you need to create four essential components that need to be answered beforehand. They are the thesis statement, subpoints, a connection, and the summary.

how to write an academic goal essay

  • Thesis Statement: This is the focal point of your writing and one of your introductory paragraphs' key elements.  It is the main message the author is trying to deliver. ‍
  • Body Points (Subpoints): These are the key points or statements that you will use to support your thesis. ‍
  • Connection: When writing an academic essay, it is important to tie it directly or indirectly to the real world. Provide a reason why it is important to you or why it is relevant to society. This will fill your paper with new meaning and showcase your unique way of thinking. ‍
  • Summary: This is a short and strong statement that briefly explains your given points.

You might also be interested in getting more info about HOW TO WRITE AN OUTLINE in MLA and APA styles.

To help you get a better idea of how to shape a perfect outline for your essay, here is a sample outline for a paper written about “Police Brutality and Its Impact on the Society”:

  • Introduction
  • ~ Hook: Statistics show that in 2019 alone, almost two thousand people were killed due to police brutality.
  • ~ Background information and explanation of key terms: The term "police brutality" refers to the excessive, unwarranted, and often illegal use of force by the policemen. Throughout the US, and throughout global history, there have been plenty of cases of fatal force that range from assault to torture, and even murder. Moreover, statistical data indicates that the levels of violent crime in the United State do not determine the rates of police violence. That is why, recently, police brutality has become a real and prevalent issue that is being widely discussed and spotlighted in the media.
  • ~ Thesis statement: The unwarranted use of force is a real problem that has a significant impact on how people view their society, and it has to be addressed appropriately to prevent further growth of discontent and violence.
  • ~ Point 1 + example/evidence
  • ~ Point 2 + example/evidence
  • ~ Point 3 + example/evidence
  • ~ Summary of the key points discussed in the main body.
  • ~ Restatement of the thesis statement.
  • ~ A final sentence that leaves readers with more to consider.

Once you have created a proper outline, listed your main points, and collected evidence to support your ideas, it is time to start writing your paper. A lot of people choose to come up with a title before the writing process as it helps them set the mood for their work. Others prefer writing first and then creating a title based on their written information. The second option is more suitable for writing a narrative or descriptive essays, as the title’s meaning could be abstract. However, when it comes to expository and persuasive papers, it is important to set a specific essay title and to follow its general theme.

Introduction: How to Start an Academic Essay

The academic essay format we are talking about in this article is pretty basic. It has been widely used to create high-quality essay examples for university for years. The main reason students still use it is that it is considered to be the most effective in terms of delivering information to the reader.

Where to start: When writing any academic writing assignment, a student should begin by shaping a solid introduction.

Quick tip: If you are not too experienced in writing academic papers, don’t hesitate to find a good academic paper example to give you an idea about how to make a good introduction. Looking at good samples can help to get you going.

A reader’s attention span is at its peak at the very beginning of a paper, when they just start reading, so your introductory paragraph will basically set the tone for the entire academic paper. Luckily, EssayPro can share a few handy and highly effective techniques to help you build a compelling introduction!

First of all, you should begin with a powerful hook. The term “hook” is used to refer to the first sentence of the introduction paragraph—the main purpose of which is to grab the reader's attention and encourage them to read on. To help you get on the right track, here are some of the best tactics for creating a hook that works:

  • Quote: Starting an introduction with a creative and meaningful quote is one of the most popular techniques for introducing a paper. When the quote is chosen right, it can make a powerful impact on a reader and set the right tone for the entire essay. Therefore, quotes often serve as good openers. However, it is vital to pick the right quote that will directly relate to your topic and does not distract your reader from your topic’s main point.
  • Fact: Another common opening technique is to begin an essay with a factual statement or statistic. This is most helpful when writing an expository or persuasive essay, as, in this case, such an opener will add credibility to your paper. Also, starting with a fact will demonstrate that you have researched your topic well.
  • Rhetorical Question: Finally, another way to begin your essay is to start with a rhetorical question. This technique will help you to connect more with your reader(s). A good rhetorical question will stick in your reader's mind as they go through the rest of the paper. However, it is important that you answer the rhetorical question from the introduction in your essay’s body or, at least, guide your audience towards a relevant observation.
Bad Hook Example: “Police brutality must stop.” – This is not intriguing and does not grab the reader’s attention, though it gives the reader an idea of what the essay will be about.
Good Hook Example: “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” – This hook will have a stronger impact on a reader because it is a famous quote from a police-brutality victim. Consequently, it hints on the topic of the essay, but keeps the intrigue.

When you have a powerful hook, it is time to give your readers an insight into the essay's main topic. Since the main theme of the paper may not yet be evidently clear at this point, you need to narrow down your paper’s focus by introducing some valuable contextual background information. Outlining the background data will help readers understand how the topic will unfold throughout the paper. Finally, after you provide the background, it is time to shape your golden sentence (a.k.a. thesis statement).

In a nutshell, the thesis statement is the key theme, idea, or argument of your essay. In other words, it summarizes the entire message you are going to deliver in a single sentence.

Bonus tip: When shaping your thesis statement, do not overload it with unnecessary information. Keep it straight to the point and concise. Remember that the main purposes of this sentence are to lay out the focus of the paper and to introduce the readers to the main ideas you will cover within the body paragraphs.

Bad Thesis Statement Example: “Police violence is bad for society.” – This is too short and does not indicate a solid opinion from the author.
Good Thesis Statement Example: “The unwarranted use of force is a real problem that has a significant influence on society and has to be addressed appropriately to prevent the growth of discontent and violence further.” – This is concise, but detailed enough to let the readers understand the purpose of the writing. It is logical and states the clear position the author supports.

The Main Body

The body paragraphs of your essay will be the source of information for your audience. The main body is always the biggest part of a 5 paragraph assignment and requires the most attention. When writing your body paragraphs, your main points should be stated according to the order of your outline and should support your thesis statement with valid arguments and facts. If you deviate from that, it’s going to confuse the audience, especially those who are very attentive to your essay’s flow.

Here are the main requirements for writing a strong body section:

  • Accuracy : Be cautious with information and do not contradict yourself. Include the relevant subpoints (based on the body paragraphs) you presented in your thesis.
Bad Example: Due to the rapid growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, we can assume that climate change is a real issue. (Point 1) However, according to some sources, Antarctica is now gaining back ice, which indicates that the problem is being resolved. (Point 2)
Good Example: Due to the rapid growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, we can assume that climate change is a real issue. (Point 1) Also, according to scientists and the reports from statistics taken from satellites, Antarctica keeps losing its land ice rapidly, which also indicates continued global warming. (Point 2)
  • Evidence: Every topic or idea you present should be defended with sufficient evidence to accredit your words. Provide details such as facts, statistics, and references.
Bad Example: Global warming is a real threat because of the increase in the carbon footprint left by people.
Good Example: According to the official Nasa report, the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have now almost reached the point of 420 parts per million. This indicator is considerably larger compared to the level of the atmospheric carbon dioxide reported in 1950, which barely reached 320 parts per million. These facts let us conclude that the issue of climate change is now indisputable.
  • Word Choice: Mind your vocabulary, especially when it comes to persuasive or descriptive papers. The words you use should accurately represent your information. Use vivid adjectives and strong adverbs. Some things you want to avoid in terms of word choice are misused words, jargon or technical terms that confuse readers, slang or inappropriate language, cliches, wordiness, etc.
Bad Example: Last but not least, police brutality cases cause society discontent that leads to mass riots and generates even more violence.
Good Example: Lastly, police brutality causes discontent that leads to mass riots and generates even more violence. 
  • Keep It Consistent: A body paragraph should be between 5-7 sentences. Logically, they should all follow a similar structure, with the main difference revolving around the presentation of the subpoint. We always recommend students check out a quality academic writing sample to get a good idea of how the whole piece should look like.

The main body's goal is to answer any questions that have appeared in the reader’s mind after the introduction. Every new point should get the audience closer to understanding the complete concept you deliver throughout your essay. Ideally, your goal is to bring them to the same level of knowledge on the subject as you have in your capacity. After doing so successfully, it is time to transition to the conclusion.

Academic Essay Conclusion

In any assignment you write, you have to start strong and finish even stronger. As you move towards the end of your paper, your reader might not even remember what the first paragraph you wrote was about. Therefore, you have to remind them. Overall, a good essay conclusion is going to include:

  • Summary: A condensed paraphrasing of the information stated in the thesis and the subpoints. (Only if you are writing an expository, descriptive, or persuasive paper)
  • Personal or Social Connection: In other words, why this information is relevant to society. Stating such a connection showcases the general importance of the subject and its modern-day relevance.
  • Overall Concluding Statement: This will normally be the last sentence that serves the purpose of tying a knot around your work. If you have initially started with a rhetorical question, a nice touch would be to give the audience an answer to it here. If you have written a quote, rephrase it in your own words. It is important to leave the audience with a strong statement that will stay in their minds.

Writing Process

The drafting process takes you from a compilation of information to the structured delivery of your idea within your essay. No excellent-quality paper has ever been written in a single draft. The process begins with a rough draft – a stage where you use all of the information you have acquired from your relative outline. From there, you narrow down this information to the most relevant parts that add actual value to your academic essay topic. Every new draft must also rid itself of content problems, structural flaws, or simple typos. The final draft of an essay might end up being drastically smaller than its original draft.

how to write an academic goal essay

Word Choice ‍

Word choice is one of the factors that define the quality of an academic essay. It is also often overseeded or neglected. It is no secret that some words are better at communicating ideas than others. It is also no secret that vocabulary plays a big role in the writing process. Focusing on word choice is especially significant in descriptive essay writing when your goal is to paint a picture in a reader’s mind. If you are writing a paper on a specific area of study, it is crucial to use words related to that field and avoid simple neutral words that offer no contribution to the text.

Finalizing the Submission ‍

At this stage of writing, your content should be well polished. After taking your essay through a peer review and/or red pen edits, make sure to:

  • Fix all grammatical mistakes and punctuational errors
  • Finalize your title
  • Add a bibliography if needed (basically, a “references” or “works cited” page that also includes the sources you have used, but weren’t referenced within the text)
  • Make sure your paper meets its specified academic paper formatting requirements.

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We hope we’ve given you a good head start at becoming an expert academic essay writer. Remember, the purpose of an academic essay is to develop your ideas to deliver a message. As a result of getting better at academic essay writing, you will be able to articulate yourselves clearly and be able to write and speak more confidently. Good luck with your assignment!

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  • Academic writing

What Is Academic Writing? | Dos and Don’ts for Students

Academic writing is a formal style of writing used in universities and scholarly publications. You’ll encounter it in journal articles and books on academic topics, and you’ll be expected to write your essays , research papers , and dissertation in academic style.

Academic writing follows the same writing process as other types of texts, but it has specific conventions in terms of content, structure and style.

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Table of contents

Types of academic writing, academic writing is…, academic writing is not…, useful tools for academic writing, academic writing checklist.

Academics mostly write texts intended for publication, such as journal articles, reports, books, and chapters in edited collections. For students, the most common types of academic writing assignments are listed below.

Different fields of study have different priorities in terms of the writing they produce. For example, in scientific writing it’s crucial to clearly and accurately report methods and results; in the humanities, the focus is on constructing convincing arguments through the use of textual evidence. However, most academic writing shares certain key principles intended to help convey information as effectively as possible.

Whether your goal is to pass your degree, apply to graduate school , or build an academic career, effective writing is an essential skill.

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how to write an academic goal essay

Formal and unbiased

Academic writing aims to convey information in an impartial way. The goal is to base arguments on the evidence under consideration, not the author’s preconceptions. All claims should be supported with relevant evidence, not just asserted.

To avoid bias, it’s important to represent the work of other researchers and the results of your own research fairly and accurately. This means clearly outlining your methodology  and being honest about the limitations of your research.

The formal style used in academic writing ensures that research is presented consistently across different texts, so that studies can be objectively assessed and compared with other research.

Because of this, it’s important to strike the right tone with your language choices. Avoid informal language , including slang, contractions , clichés, and conversational phrases:

  • Also , a lot of the findings are a little unreliable.
  • Moreover , many of the findings are somewhat unreliable.

Clear and precise

It’s important to use clear and precise language to ensure that your reader knows exactly what you mean. This means being as specific as possible and avoiding vague language :

  • People have been interested in this thing for a long time .
  • Researchers have been interested in this phenomenon for at least 10 years .

Avoid hedging your claims with words like “perhaps,” as this can give the impression that you lack confidence in your arguments. Reflect on your word choice to ensure it accurately and directly conveys your meaning:

  • This could perhaps suggest that…
  • This suggests that…

Specialist language or jargon is common and often necessary in academic writing, which generally targets an audience of other academics in related fields.

However, jargon should be used to make your writing more concise and accurate, not to make it more complicated. A specialist term should be used when:

  • It conveys information more precisely than a comparable non-specialist term.
  • Your reader is likely to be familiar with the term.
  • The term is commonly used by other researchers in your field.

The best way to familiarize yourself with the kind of jargon used in your field is to read papers by other researchers and pay attention to their language.

Focused and well structured

An academic text is not just a collection of ideas about a topic—it needs to have a clear purpose. Start with a relevant research question or thesis statement , and use it to develop a focused argument. Only include information that is relevant to your overall purpose.

A coherent structure is crucial to organize your ideas. Pay attention to structure at three levels: the structure of the whole text, paragraph structure, and sentence structure.

Well sourced

Academic writing uses sources to support its claims. Sources are other texts (or media objects like photographs or films) that the author analyzes or uses as evidence. Many of your sources will be written by other academics; academic writing is collaborative and builds on previous research.

It’s important to consider which sources are credible and appropriate to use in academic writing. For example, citing Wikipedia is typically discouraged. Don’t rely on websites for information; instead, use academic databases and your university library to find credible sources.

You must always cite your sources in academic writing. This means acknowledging whenever you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work by including a citation in the text and a reference list at the end.

There are many different citation styles with different rules. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago . Make sure to consistently follow whatever style your institution requires. If you don’t cite correctly, you may get in trouble for plagiarism . A good plagiarism checker can help you catch any issues before it’s too late.

You can easily create accurate citations in APA or MLA style using our Citation Generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Correct and consistent

As well as following the rules of grammar, punctuation, and citation, it’s important to consistently apply stylistic conventions regarding:

  • How to write numbers
  • Introducing abbreviations
  • Using verb tenses in different sections
  • Capitalization of terms and headings
  • Spelling and punctuation differences between UK and US English

In some cases there are several acceptable approaches that you can choose between—the most important thing is to apply the same rules consistently and to carefully proofread your text before you submit. If you don’t feel confident in your own proofreading abilities, you can get help from Scribbr’s professional proofreading services or Grammar Checker .

Academic writing generally tries to avoid being too personal. Information about the author may come in at some points—for example in the acknowledgements or in a personal reflection—but for the most part the text should focus on the research itself.

Always avoid addressing the reader directly with the second-person pronoun “you.” Use the impersonal pronoun “one” or an alternate phrasing instead for generalizations:

  • As a teacher, you must treat your students fairly.
  • As a teacher, one must treat one’s students fairly.
  • Teachers must treat their students fairly.

The use of the first-person pronoun “I” used to be similarly discouraged in academic writing, but it is increasingly accepted in many fields. If you’re unsure whether to use the first person, pay attention to conventions in your field or ask your instructor.

When you refer to yourself, it should be for good reason. You can position yourself and describe what you did during the research, but avoid arbitrarily inserting your personal thoughts and feelings:

  • In my opinion…
  • I think that…
  • I like/dislike…
  • I conducted interviews with…
  • I argue that…
  • I hope to achieve…


Many students think their writing isn’t academic unless it’s over-complicated and long-winded. This isn’t a good approach—instead, aim to be as concise and direct as possible.

If a term can be cut or replaced with a more straightforward one without affecting your meaning, it should be. Avoid redundant phrasings in your text, and try replacing phrasal verbs with their one-word equivalents where possible:

  • Interest in this phenomenon carried on in the year 2018 .
  • Interest in this phenomenon continued in 2018 .

Repetition is a part of academic writing—for example, summarizing earlier information in the conclusion—but it’s important to avoid unnecessary repetition. Make sure that none of your sentences are repeating a point you’ve already made in different words.

Emotive and grandiose

An academic text is not the same thing as a literary, journalistic, or marketing text. Though you’re still trying to be persuasive, a lot of techniques from these styles are not appropriate in an academic context. Specifically, you should avoid appeals to emotion and inflated claims.

Though you may be writing about a topic that’s sensitive or important to you, the point of academic writing is to clearly communicate ideas, information, and arguments, not to inspire an emotional response. Avoid using emotive or subjective language :

  • This horrible tragedy was obviously one of the worst catastrophes in construction history.
  • The injury and mortality rates of this accident were among the highest in construction history.

Students are sometimes tempted to make the case for their topic with exaggerated , unsupported claims and flowery language. Stick to specific, grounded arguments that you can support with evidence, and don’t overstate your point:

  • Charles Dickens is the greatest writer of the Victorian period, and his influence on all subsequent literature is enormous.
  • Charles Dickens is one of the best-known writers of the Victorian period and has had a significant influence on the development of the English novel.

There are a a lot of writing tools that will make your writing process faster and easier. We’ll highlight three of them below.

Paraphrasing tool

AI writing tools like ChatGPT and a paraphrasing tool can help you rewrite text so that your ideas are clearer, you don’t repeat yourself, and your writing has a consistent tone.

They can also help you write more clearly about sources without having to quote them directly. Be warned, though: it’s still crucial to give credit to all sources in the right way to prevent plagiarism .

Grammar checker

Writing tools that scan your text for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. When it detects a mistake the grammar checke r will give instant feedback and suggest corrections. Helping you write clearly and avoid common mistakes .

You can use a summarizer if you want to condense text into its most important and useful ideas. With a summarizer tool, you can make it easier to understand complicated sources. You can also use the tool to make your research question clearer and summarize your main argument.

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Use the checklist below to assess whether you have followed the rules of effective academic writing.

  • Checklist: Academic writing

I avoid informal terms and contractions .

I avoid second-person pronouns (“you”).

I avoid emotive or exaggerated language.

I avoid redundant words and phrases.

I avoid unnecessary jargon and define terms where needed.

I present information as precisely and accurately as possible.

I use appropriate transitions to show the connections between my ideas.

My text is logically organized using paragraphs .

Each paragraph is focused on a single idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Every part of the text relates to my central thesis or research question .

I support my claims with evidence.

I use the appropriate verb tenses in each section.

I consistently use either UK or US English .

I format numbers consistently.

I cite my sources using a consistent citation style .

Your text follows the most important rules of academic style. Make sure it's perfect with the help of a Scribbr editor!

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  • Educational Goals Essay: Guide on Getting a Scholarship
  • Apr 02, 2020
  • Bestcustompaper

What is an educational goals essay? This question frequently pops up in the minds of students who graduated from high school and plan to continue their education in one of the colleges or universities. From its name, one can guess that this academic paper reflects the philosophy of education and related objectives from the perspective of a college applicant.

An educational goals college essay can be a part of a shortened version of a personal statement or scholarship essay. The aim of these papers is everywhere the same. You have to persuade admissions officers that you are the most worthy candidate out of all. For a scholarship essay, the primary objective is to prove the committee that you're the best student who should be rewarded with education opportunities and fundings (but remember about being as original and persuasive as possible).

As far as writing on educational goals for college is pretty much like scholarship application, students should be aware of how to write both of them. Without the proper indication of the goal of education, you are unlikely to present yourself as a diligent and determined student.

How to Write an Educational Goals Essay?

If we collect all the scholarship entries that have ever been appreciated and rewarded with academic chances and funds, you will discover that it's not that easy to define the features of a winning paper on one's educational aims. So, you should come up with a distinctive personal style instead of copying other authors. Don't use templates - you can just give it a go by releasing all your imagination!

Educational Goals Essay Outline

Just like a traveler might get lost in the woods, each writer can get lost in their writing. You should have an action plan to fulfill the essay adequately. Without having an outline, you will barely succeed in your writing. A good educational goals essay outline will prevent you from facing the writer's block, which means being stuck in the middle of the writing process, having no ideas to dwell on. Once you have specific step-by-step instructions, you won't end up with having your ideas hurryingly swarm in your head. Just like any other essay, writing on academic goals is required to be of three parts.

Make an outline as specific and detailed as possible. Here is the example of a good one - an education or scholarship essay about aims that one may have:

  • Becoming a leader in my field.
  • Mastering the art of communication.
  • Learning to give powerful public speeches.
  • Studying organizational behavior in-depth.
  • Launching my business.
  • Subjects that I need to study.
  • Reasons to study the required disciplines at the university.
  • Benefits my degree may provide.
  • Pursuing a career in politics.
  • Things I plan to do to graduate with honors.
  • Things I plan to do after graduation.
  • The role of a university degree in my future career.

This paper is highly personal so that you may craft an outline based on your own life story - no restrictions. Still, don't talk about your objectives for too long. Up to 2-3 pages are more than enough.

Educational Goals Essay Writing Tips

A paper of this type requires an approach different from essays you write for high school. It is not another research paper with a specific structure or format like MLA or APA. You have to focus on other things to succeed. The following educational goals essay writing tips will help:

  • Look through the prompt carefully. Re-read it several times not to miss any important thing.
  • Define the central themes to cover in your paper based on the prompt. Put them down on a separate sheet to make it easier.
  • Check the meaning of the key concepts that you may misunderstand.
  • Enrich the paper with keywords or key phrases mentioned in the essay prompt. If you're getting ready with the application to be submitted online, use some free SEO tools.
  • Come up with an engaging hook to catch the reader's attention from the first line.
  • Check the criteria and standards established by the target college or university before starting to work on your paper. A grading rubric is what really matters in such situations.
  • Add the experience related to the leadership or work in a team.
  • Do not forget to include something about your community impact with real-life examples provided to make it sound convincing.

For a scholarship essay, if you wish to obtain the best results, attach an impressive cover letter describing your achievements to your educational goals assignment!

Educational Goals for Scholarship

An essay for the scholarship is separate writing where one should focus on explaining career objectives alone. It is critical to show the way you plan to make certain accomplishments through proper education. Stress how vital obtaining a degree is to you.

It is not necessary to include only purposes in such a statement. You can tell about your career goals through other elements:

  • Reasons to get involved in the field of leadership.
  • The extent of experience in the specific industry and degree of accomplishment.
  • Obstacles and challenges you faced and may still meet on the way to achieving your target.
  • Lessons learned from different situations you've been through.
  • The meaning of your possible achievements and accomplishments for the future of the target field or society.

Being a leader is one of the most common goals being mentioned in the scholarship essays, so focus on it in your writing.


Educational Goals Essay for Nursing

It makes no wonder that a lot of students want to figure out how to write an educational goals essay for nursing. All the jobs related to healthcare and medicine are promising and well-paid today. The examples of goals to pursue in such type of essay include:

  • To share aspects of your life that are related to your chosen industry.
  • To pursue the target degree in a certain school.
  • To master the skills necessary to take care of women and children.
  • To gain knowledge of the medical equipment and basic tools.
  • To find out how to build effective communications between patients and registered nurses.

Order Your Educational Goals College Essay Online

Just specify what you need to include in an educational goals college essay in the order form on our website. It will be written by academic experts with years of experience under their belts. They will provide you with a one-of-a-kind paper (since we always remember about plagiarism) that would meet all of the writing requirements.

Use our service, and writing an essay on the given topic will become simpler. We do not guarantee 100% success with your application process, but, at least, our help will increase your chances of winning a scholarship or a place in the college or university of your dream!

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Essays About Goals: Top 5 Examples Plus 10 Prompts

Goals could be a one-time event or a lifelong growth process. Write effectively with the help of our essays about goals and writing prompts in our guide. 

Having goals helps us have a sense of purpose. We find our determination, discipline, and strategic thinking tested to their limits. The road toward any goal, especially ambitious ones, is full of thorns and spikes. Some walk away and accept that these goals are not destined for them. Some, however, keep pressing forward, determined to achieve these goals. Gaining confidence in writing can help you achieve your goals by putting pen to paper and starting a plan.

5 Essay Examples

1.  are you goal or growth conscious by katherine beneby, 2. how to help an employee figure out their career goals by dorie clark, 3. no goals: why is it so hard to do something for enjoyment’s sake by jenny valentish, 4. get inspired: how four hikers accomplished their 2021 hiking goals by anna roth , 5. does sharing your goals on social media make you more likely to achieve them by kristan russell, 10 prompts on essays about goals.

“The difference between goals and growth is that goals are seasonal, while growth is lifelong. Goals focus on a destination while growth focuses on a journey.”

In this essay, the writer discusses how achieving our goals may be possible if we reframe our minds to think of them as a growth process. This essay enumerates the difficulties of achieving our objectives and offers guidance on what will help put structure in how we formulate our growth plans. You might also be interested in these essays about bad habits .

“It’s not always possible to help the people we supervise identify and work toward their career goals… [S]o when we can assist our employees in getting there, it’s a meaningful way we can make a difference in their lives and their professional success.”

As per our list of topics to write about , this essay looks at how managers must realize their critical roles in the lives of the employees they handle. Their biggest contribution to the development of their employees is helping them achieve their tasks at work while ensuring these victories lead to their broader career goals. You might also be wondering, why write goals down?

“Once, to stave off depression, I set myself the goal-tastic mission of doing something new every day for a year – from flying in a glider to blowing things up – and blogging about it. Right from day one, the sense of focus lifted my mood, and there was frankly no time to overthink.”

In this essay, the writer looks at how atelic activities, or those we do for fun, positively influence our outlook. Our goal-driven world, however, hinders us from seeing the pure joy of doing things without goals. You might be interested in these essays about dream jobs .

“Last year, she set a goal to simply go hiking at all. And she’s thrilled to have made it happen, saying it was one of the best things she could have done for herself and her family during such a challenging year.”

This writer describes points to inspire people to start hiking and to set personal fitness goals. Look no further and turn to the inspiring stories of people who have targeted to hike across states, hike for the first time, hike once a month for health purposes, and hike a hundred miles yearly. For more inspiration, check out these essays about achievement .

“Wellness gurus and fitness bloggers seem to be divided between whether sharing goals on your social media sabotages you or holds you accountable.“

This essay revolves around a nascent study that aims to see if sharing your goals on social media make them more attainable. While initial results show that those who posted made significant progress compared to people who did not post, more questions need to be explored. You might be inspired by these essays about success .

1. My Goals in Life

In this essay, delve into your short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. Before anything else, elaborate on what drew you to set these goals. Then, share your action plans to make them a reality. Discuss the obstacles you’ve faced and how you’ve conquered them. 

2. Travel Goals

Travel goals

What is the one destination you dream of? For this essay, daydream about your travel goals. Direct that excitement and write your travel itinerary, the duration of your stay, where you will be staying, and what daring activities you will dare yourself to plunge into. You can also talk about whom you would like to be with when you fulfill your travel goals or if you prefer going solo.

3. The Goal of Forming Better Study Habits

It is a challenge to hit the books when we live in a world with unlimited distractions. In this topic prompt, share effective study habits to help students focus on their studies. One helpful tip, for example, is designing your environment to be conducive to a habit change. In the case of study habits, this means temporarily eliminating access to social media and other digital distractions. Cite more tips and conclude your essay with a few words of motivation.

4. Climate Goals: Are We Progressing?

Under the Paris Agreement , the landmark international agreement to fight climate change, countries must jointly strive to arrest global warming and cap it to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. The question is: is this goal still on the table? Read recent news articles on how countries are following through on their Paris Treaty pledges. Listen to what environmentalists say about national efforts and tackle what more must be done to attain the climate goals. 

5. Importance of Fitness Goals

Fitness is a common new year’s resolution but try convincing your readers to start their fitness goals today. First, help your readers explore the right dietary program and workout schedule based on their daily demands. 

Then, underscore the importance of a fitness goal for gaining self-esteem and improving physical and mental health. Entice them with the idea of gaining a new exciting skill from a new workout activity and motivate them to start unlocking the fit version of themselves today. 

6. Fiscal Policy Goals

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries recorded ballooning debts as governments spent heavily to fight the pandemic and also support struggling sectors. So first, determine whether your country is in a tight fiscal space. 

The fiscal space assessment framework created by the International Monetary Fund may help you identify the metrics and data to gather. Then, shed light on your government’s fiscal policy goals to address debt while spending in sectors that guarantee an economy’s long-term health, such as education and social services. 

7. Failing at Your Goals

How do people receive failures? Write about people’s attitudes and actions when they fail at their goals. Can people develop depression, and how can they recover from the fall? Try to answer these and share your experience of failing at your goals. 

Ask yourself: How did you move forward after that? Then, share your opinions on whether a failure signifies that it would be best for someone to find a new goal altogether or try again with stronger determination and a better-calculated strategy. 

8. Setting Lofty Vs. Light Goals

Which is better: aiming for a lofty goal that opens risks of failure, which many fear, or light goals that might do little in stretching out your potential? Answer this by listing the pros and cons of each. Then help readers strike the optimum balance between a loft or light goal. Cite examples of lofty and light goals to help your readers better differentiate the two.

9. Poverty Reduction Goals

For this essay, take a deep dive into the poverty reduction efforts of your government. First, give an overview of an ongoing flagship poverty reduction program and uncover its outcomes since its implementation. Read through government reports about the breakthrough goals of the program and which ones are gaining momentum. 

Then, look at the other side of the fence by listening to what critics say about the program. Take note of their laments about bottlenecks in the program and what more can be done to attain poverty reduction goals swiftly. 

10. My Academic Goals

My academic goals

Start with a descriptive paragraph detailing your academic goals. Writing about it vividly, as though it is the reality, is a creative way to show readers how much you have played out the scenarios of success in your head while helping your readers fully understand your goals. Then snap back to reality and discuss your action plan to realize these goals.

For related topics, you may check our essays about dreams in life . Don’t forget to proofread your essay with the best grammar checkers .

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how to write an academic goal essay

Yna Lim is a communications specialist currently focused on policy advocacy. In her eight years of writing, she has been exposed to a variety of topics, including cryptocurrency, web hosting, agriculture, marketing, intellectual property, data privacy and international trade. A former journalist in one of the top business papers in the Philippines, Yna is currently pursuing her master's degree in economics and business.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Personal Goals — Achieving Academic Goal For College Students


Achieving Academic Goal for College Students

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how to write an academic goal essay

A Helpful Guide on How to Start an Essay

Smiling guy in headphones sitting at desk in library and writing

Writing essays is a common part of many students’ lives, especially if they pursue higher education. Many college courses place hefty emphasis on essays. Their content, length, research, writing, and revision will often form large portions of many college students’ curricular efforts, one semester at a time. 

Knowing how to properly write an essay is an invaluable skill. Not only does it ensure the papers are properly written, it also helps establish life skills involving research, critical thinking, and time management. As with most projects, the best place to start with an essay is the beginning. 

As obvious as that sounds, a strong start will help ensure a strong finish. Though it will take more than just a good start to complete a strong essay, everyone needs to begin somewhere.  

We reached out to the popular essay writing service Write My Essays for advice. After all, who understands how to write an essay better than a professional essay writer? 

Review the directions  

This may seem obvious, but before starting the essay, it’s important to review the directions provided by the professor. The directions should include all the important points, such as spacing, fonts, and the expected layout of the content. 

The contents will depend on the subject. Different fields use different methods of citation for their sources, as one example, and that needs to be taken into account. Understanding the guidelines will help direct focus and energy in the right direction, ensuring time isn’t wasted on improper settings or sources. 

The amount of detail within the directions can vary greatly, depending on the level of the course, the subject matter, and the inclination of the professor. Do not be afraid to ask for advice from on-campus resources or the professor themselves to ensure the directions are fully and properly understood. 

Make an outline  

Before working on the paper itself, it is a good idea to create an outline. This might be a part of the assignment requirements, even, or possibly an assignment all its own. Regardless, outlining the essay’s contents and key points will make writing the essay easier. 

Outlines aren’t for everyone, but even if they are not required, they are also a useful tool. Having an idea of the direction of the essay before writing it will help with the writing process and makes for a handy way to start the work before the essay is even written. 

Format the document  

Before actually writing the essay, formatting the document to the required guidelines first will save a lot of time and effort on fixing issues during the revision process. Revising is arduous enough without having to take typesetting issues into account, especially with how easy document formatting has become. 

Standard requirements for an essay are an easy-to-read font at a standard size like 12, with one-inch margins, indented paragraphs, and double spacing for ease of reading. Actually, requirements may vary, which is why it’s so important to review them, especially if working on multiple projects in different classes at the same time. 

Set up the first page  

Depending on the requirements, the first page may simply be a title page with the assignment, class number, and student’s name. Some of that information may be on a second page, with just the title on the first page. These pages generally do not count towards page lengths and are meant to help prevent padding. 

Setting up the title page is part of formatting, but at least it’s finally putting words on a page. This is also a good point to save the document, ideally in a folder created for the various coursework of the related class so that it is easy to find, load, and, eventually, submit. 

How to begin the paper  

Finally, with the document formatted and necessary first page organized, the actual writing of the essay can begin. Presumably the required research and other pre-writing prep has been completed. So, it’s time to actually put some words to virtual paper and start writing the essay in earnest. 

The question is how to start the paper, that is, the actual contents and not just the title or document itself. The guidelines from the professor might have some notes on this matter, and those should be adhered to when required. If the requirements lack such guidelines, the students have some freedom on how to open their essay. 

Open with a quote  

Oftentimes, a relevant quote, especially from a source cited throughout the essay, can help set the tone and ground the reader with what to expect. A proper quote will help set expectations and bring an idea of the content ahead in a quick and quirky format. 

The quote also sets the tone, as previously mentioned. Serious issues will merit a more serious quote, while lighter subjects can get away with pithier wording. Depending on the subject, sources, and topic of the paper, the quote need not be from a serious source. As long as it is cited, a relevant book or movie quote could also be used to set the opening. 

Pose a question  

Another option to open the essay is with a question. This is a direct way to bring the main topic of the essay to the forefront, by immediately leading with the thesis question, the answer to which is generally the entire point of the essay. 

This does not work for all essays, but the question need not be that powerful. A simpler question to grab the reader’s attention and draw them into the topic at hand can work just as well. Just like with an opening quote, the question sets the tone and leads into the introductory paragraph, which is generally a basic summary of the essay as a whole. 

Also as with a quote, the question can be as serious or irreverent as possible when writing scholastic works, depending on the subject matter, the class, and, occasionally, the demeanor of the professor. Though it is ill advised to think about it too much, at the end of the day, most essays are read by two people, and only two people: the student who wrote them, and the professor who reads and grades them accordingly. 

Start with the Thesis Statement  

It will need to be stated in the introductory paragraph anyway, and beginning with it can provide a strong hook to the start of an essay. While the first paragraph is an essential foundation for the essay, the thesis statement is the base for the first paragraph and the assignments as a whole. 

The thesis statement states the thesis of the essay, hence the name. The sooner it is mentioned, the better, and, as with many aspects of the paper, it will likely be mentioned in the guidelines for the essay. Either way, starting with the thesis statement sets a strong tone for the rest of the paper. 

Such a strong start can be a little daunting to live up to over the course of finishing the essay, but if that turns out to be the case, it can be moved. If nothing else, though, starting with the thesis statement gets it stated quickly and efficiently. 

The introductory paragraph  

The first paragraph of an essay is usually referred to as the introductory paragraph. This paragraph, as previously noted, is extremely important for the essay. It provides the reader with a basic summary of the essay’s contents. From the original question, hypothesis, thesis statement, antithesis, theory, synthesis, and potentially even cited sources, this paragraph sets the tone for the entire paper. 

That is a lot of pressure to put on the beginning of an essay, but it also helps guide the direction of the essay moving forward. Along with tone, it is a handy reference for the rest of the essay. The reader, i.e., the professor, will expect the paper to follow the outline set forth in the first paragraph. 

Though the introductory paragraph is the first and most important aspect of an essay in several regards, it is also the easiest to revise. If the sources and data take the paper in a direction different from what was originally intended, then the first paragraph is relatively easy to adjust to fit the new information. 

As with other aspects of the essay, the assignment brief may have instructions on how to format the introductory paragraph, as well as potential guidelines regarding its contents. This will help with writing the first paragraph, and thus starting the essay, a little easier. 


Depending on the chosen course load, essays will likely be a large part of a student’s work throughout their academic career. Learning how to properly plan, format, write, and revise essays will help ensure an easier time over the semesters and years. 

Eventually, writing essays will become second nature thanks to the developed skills. Still, with each essay, turning a blank document into a completed and submitted assignment can be a daunting prospect. 

With proper planning, review of the sources and assignment description, and a good handle on the thesis statement, starting an essay can become as second nature as writing the overall essay. With various ways to begin, mixing it up every now and then will also help fight the tedious nature such papers can garner after the tenth time, and beyond. 

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Rafal Reyzer

How To Write A Powerful Essay On Achieving Goals (+ Example)

How To Write A Powerful Essay On Achieving Goals - featured image

Writing an essay on achieving your goals can be a great opportunity to share your own accomplishments.

Goal setting is a useful strategy to get the most out of life and set yourself up for success.

However, there are many things to remember regarding proper goal setting and achievement. Or when writing a blm argumentative essay , it’s important to provide context on the history of the Black Lives Matter movement and the issues it seeks to address. This can help the reader understand the significance of the essay’s thesis and arguments.

Let’s get to grips with the process of goal setting and come up with a powerful essay on achieving goals.

Structuring Your Essay on Achieving Goals:

How to write an introduction.

Any academic essay must have a strong beginning. It will establish your point of view and inform the reader of what to expect.

An introduction should:

  • Attract the reader’s attention with a ‘hook’. You can achieve this by quoting a shocking statistic, quote, fact, or controversial statement.
  • Give some background or historical information about the topic. For instance, psychological theories and models on effective goal setting and achievement.
  • Present your thesis (main point of your essay) e.g., “Rewarding achievement is the most effective means by which employers can increase workplace productivity”.

How to Write The Main Body of Your Essay

There should be a minimum of three paragraphs in your essay. Each one is a ‘mini’ essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Each should include:

  • Topic sentence: inform the reader about the subject of the paragraph, e.g., “how to measure goal attainment”, “effective workplace goal setting”.
  • Evidence sentences: inform the reader about the evidence you’ve uncovered, e.g., a business model and study on effective workplace goal setting.
  • Analysis sentences : inform the reader of your thoughts on the evidence and its significance. For example, “Model A clearly shows how employers are to set realistic goals with employees and this model has proven to be successful in study x”.
  • Concluding sentence: summarize what you’ve learned about the topic and how it relates to the essay question. For instance, “Setting realistic goals for employees is straightforward and likely to increase successful goal achievement in the workplace”.

How to Write a Conclusion

  • To signal the essay is ending, use a suitable word or phrase , such as ‘In summary’ or ‘With all of this in mind’.
  • Reread your introduction to remind yourself of your thesis. After that, either paraphrase or respond to the thesis.
  • Summarize the key points stated in each of the assignment’s paragraphs. So, if you wrote three key body paragraphs, the conclusion should include three main themes.
  • Give your readers a concluding line on the main issue and possibly attempt to urge them to further ponder the topic in its wider context.

happy successful goal achieving winner

Example Of An Essay About Achieving Your Goals

So, let’s put all this information together and check an example essay on achieving goals:

Effective Methods to Increase the Likelihood of Goal Achievement

Achieving goals can be extremely rewarding and result in a more satisfying and successful life. Many people set goals yet cannot achieve them. However, there are ways to avoid or reduce the likelihood of missing the mark. By ensuring that goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound), using visualization techniques and rewarding goal attainment, the chances of success increase.

First, ensure your goals are SMART. This means that goals should be specific and measurable in terms of outcomes, e.g., test scores . Goals should be achievable and realistic to the person’s capabilities and resources available. Also, a goal should apply to the person’s work, education, hobbies, or interests and include a deadline. If there is no specificity of outcome, there’s no real way to see how someone has improved—or how they might be falling short. And if goals are not SMART, they are more difficult to achieve.

Second, by imagining and visualizing the feelings and outcomes of achievement of the goal , the likelihood of high achievement increases. The imagination can be a powerful tool. Imagining the feelings of accomplishment helps to increase self-efficacy and motivation. A Canadian study found that imagery skills moderate the effect of mental practice on self-efficacy. The effects of visualization techniques are valuable in goal achievement.

Third, once the goal has been accomplished, a reward is required. Getting a reward for hard work will increasingly motivate an individual to set and achieve the next goal. The offer of a reward gives employees and students an extra boost of motivation. Rewards help the cycle of goal setting and goal achieving to continue.

In summary, by ensuring the goals set are SMART, visualizing and rewarding success, goal achievement becomes more likely. Achieving goals is a cyclic process that’s possible to master if the right method is in place.

The Basics of Setting and Achieving Goals

Getting things done is often more difficult than you may think. You may have a strong desire to see positive changes, including better grades, weight loss, or passing an educational course.

But success requires more than just motivation. The right goal-achievement skill set can help you see the exact steps you need to perform to take your life to the next level.

Of course, it all starts with setting a goal and there’s a useful (SMART) acronym to remember:

Goals should be specific and free of generalizations, or they are unlikely to get done. Instead of stating that your goal is to improve your English skills, make it more specific by stating that your goal is to learn and use one new word every weekday to boost your English vocabulary.

A goal should be measurable because you need to keep your finger on the pulse and know where you’re at. For instance, a test or assessment score can provide evidence that you have reached your goal.

A goal needs to be possible to achieve. If it’s beyond your capabilities or requires resources you cannot access, then you will set yourself up for failure.

Goals must have some relevance. It is pointless to set a goal if it’s not relevant to your life, work, education, interests, hobbies, etc.

You must set a completion date for your goal. If you do not set a deadline, you may lack the motivation to reach it.

Once you have your SMART goal, record it clearly on paper or a mobile device and then visualize the outcome of achieving that goal.

Imagine how happy you will feel when you achieve it. This vivid mental imagery will provide you with the extra motivation to go for it.

Finally, when you reach your goal, it’s time to celebrate! Reward yourself with a trip, item you desire, relaxation time with friends or whatever else that will make you feel happy.

Ready to write an essay about achieving goals?

Hopefully, the information in the article has given you the basics to help you write a powerful essay on achieving goals.

I also hope that this article has helped you think about how you can work toward achieving your own your goals.

There are many great books about the science of goal achievement. I especially recommend ones written by Brian Tracy , as they have helped me a great deal in my pursuit of happiness . You can also create an engaging presentation about achieving goals and objectives using this  goal presentation template .

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Rafal Reyzer

how to write an academic goal essay

A corridor in King’s College, Cambridge, England dating from the 15th century. Photo by David Clapp/Getty

The ends of knowledge

Academics need to think harder about the purpose of their disciplines and whether some of those should come to an end.

by Rachael Scarborough King & Seth Rudy   + BIO

Right now, many forms of knowledge production seem to be facing their end. The crisis of the humanities has reached a tipping point of financial and popular disinvestment, while technological advances such as new artificial intelligence programmes may outstrip human ingenuity. As news outlets disappear, extreme political movements question the concept of objectivity and the scientific process. Many of our systems for producing and certifying knowledge have ended or are ending.

We want to offer a new perspective by arguing that it is salutary – or even desirable – for knowledge projects to confront their ends. With humanities scholars, social scientists and natural scientists all forced to defend their work, from accusations of the ‘hoax’ of climate change to assumptions of the ‘ uselessness ’ of a humanities degree, knowledge producers within and without academia are challenged to articulate why they do what they do and, we suggest, when they might be done. The prospect of an artificially or externally imposed end can help clarify both the purpose and endpoint of our scholarship.

We believe the time has come for scholars across fields to reorient their work around the question of ‘ends’. This need not mean acquiescence to the logics of either economic utilitarianism or partisan fealty that have already proved so damaging to 21st-century institutions. But avoiding the question will not solve the problem. If we want the university to remain a viable space for knowledge production, then scholars across disciplines must be able to identify the goal of their work – in part to advance the Enlightenment project of ‘useful knowledge’ and in part to defend themselves from public and political mischaracterisation.

Our volume The Ends of Knowledge: Outcomes and Endpoints Across the Arts and Sciences (2023) asks how we should understand the ends of knowledge today. What is the relationship between an individual knowledge project – say, an experiment on a fruit fly, a reading of a poem, or the creation of a Large Language Model – and the aim of a discipline or field? In areas ranging from physics to literary studies to activism to climate science, we asked practitioners to consider the ends of their work – its purpose – as well as its end: the point at which it might be complete. The responses showed surprising points of commonality in identifying the ends of knowledge, as well as the value of having the end in sight.

A s scholars of the Enlightenment, we draw our inspiration for this intertwining of end and ends from an era that initiated many of our models for producing, sharing and using knowledge. Enlightenment thinkers combined practical and utopian definitions of ends as they called for new modes and institutions of knowledge production, understanding ends as large-scale goals that must, at the same time, be achievable. In the early 17th century , Francis Bacon called for both a new start to knowledge production and a reconsideration of its ends. ‘[T]he greatest error of all,’ he wrote in The Advancement of Learning (1605), ‘is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or furthest end of knowledge.’ Its ‘true ends’, he later wrote, were not professional reputation, financial gain, or even love of learning but rather ‘the uses and benefits of life, to improve and conduct it in charity’. Advocating an end to scholasticism, the medieval educational programme that emphasised dialectical argumentation and deductive logic, Bacon devised his Novum Organum (1620), ‘new organon’, as both a blueprint for and the beginning of a generations-long and worldwide effort to seek new ‘ends’. His work is generally taken as an origin point for the Scientific Revolution.

In this way, the Enlightenment offers a model of how the end of one view of knowledge production can be a launchpad for new ideas, methods and paradigms. The fracturing and decline of Aristotelian scholasticism during the Renaissance gave rise to a host of philosophies devised to replace it. The conflicts of the Thomists and Scotists , the inadequacies of revived Hellenistic doctrines, the discomforting mysticism of Rosicrucianism and Kabbalah, and even the failed promise of Platonism to provide a modern, comprehensive alternative to Aristotle led thinkers like Bacon to seek answers in other fields.

Bacon’s terms – exitus , finis , terminus – suggest a focus on endpoints as well as outcomes. Knowledge, in his philosophy, had ends (ie, purposes) as well as an end (a point at which the project would be complete). The new science, he believed, would lead to ‘the proper end and termination of infinite error’ and was worth undertaking precisely because an end was possible: ‘For it is better to make a beginning of a thing which has a chance of an end, than to get caught up in things which have no end, in perpetual struggle and exertion.’ Bacon believed scientists could achieve their ends.

The disciplines as we currently occupy them are artefacts of the 19th-century origins of the research university

The following year, however, the scholar Robert Burton took a less sanguine view of knowledge production in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621). Considering the lot of ‘our divines, the most noble profession and worthy of double honour’, who despite that worthiness had little hope of material reward or encouragement, he asked rhetorically: ‘to what end should we study? … why do we take such pains?’ The (enviable) certitude of the natural philosopher juxtaposed with the (highly relatable) lament of the humanist scholar suggests a division between modes and objects of enquiry that remains stereotypical of the STEM-humanities divide. We continue, fairly or unfairly, to associate the natural and applied sciences with specific and comprehensible ends, while the search for humanistic knowledge seems endless.

Seeking to sidestep such stereotypes, we asked knowledge producers to revisit Bacon’s foundational question of the Enlightenment: what is ‘the last or furthest end of knowledge’? Some may be quick to point out that past efforts at ending often appear quixotic or ludicrous with the advantage of hindsight. For literary scholars, the paradigmatic examples of this are Jorge Luis Borges’s short story ‘The Library of Babel’ (1941) and the character of Edward Casaubon in George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch (1871-2). Casaubon’s work on his Key to All Mythologies is literally unending; he dies before completing it, leading his young wife Dorothea to worry that he will guilt her into promising to continue the work after his death. Scientists too have sometimes conceived of their ends as providing, as Philip Kitcher wrote in his essay ‘The Ends of the Sciences’ (2004), ‘a complete true account of the universe’, but the idea that such an account could exist, or that, if it did, we could comprehend it, remains very much in doubt. The aspiration for a global end is generally delusive and potentially dystopian.

Our goal, then, is not to offer a single or final answer to the question of knowledge’s end(s), but rather to open and maintain an intellectual space in which it can be asked. Scholars across fields may bristle at the idea of their work ending, with ‘defences’ of various fields commonplace today. The disciplines as we currently occupy them are artefacts of the 19th-century origins of the research university, which gave us the tripartite structure of the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. This model, which trains scholars in narrow but deep disciplines, emerged out of the Enlightenment’s 200-year shift away from the medieval curricular divisions of the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy). The rise of the research university, first in Germany and then in the United States, put an end to this system.

The fact that such academic structures have changed dramatically over time shows that they are not inherent, and the past few decades have witnessed widespread interest in interdisciplinarity in the form of institutional programmes and centres as well as in new fields such as American studies, area studies and cultural studies. However, critiques of interdisciplinarity point out that such efforts are frequently additive rather than interactive: that is, they combine established disciplinary methods rather than remaking them. Questions of purpose, unity and completion have been key to, if often implicit in, the discourse of interdisciplinarity that has dominated discussions of academic institutional organisation.

Of course, knowledge production does not take place solely within the ivory tower. It was precisely during the Enlightenment that writers such as Joseph Addison called for philosophy to be brought ‘out of Closets and Libraries, Schools and Colleges, to dwell in Clubs and Assemblies, at Tea-tables, and in Coffee-houses’. The period saw the takeoff of ‘improvement’ societies, which initially focused on agricultural and public infrastructure but soon expanded to include the arts and sciences more broadly. Some of these organisations, such as Britain’s Royal Society (originally the Royal Society for Improving Natural Knowledge), remain important institutions for bridging the continuing gap between universities and the public.

But other extra-academic efforts have had the goal of repudiating the university, rather than connecting with it. The Thiel Fellowship, founded by the Right-wing venture capitalist Peter Thiel, provides recipients with a two-year $100,000 grant on the condition that they drop out of or skip university in order to ‘build new things instead of sitting in a classroom’. For many, academic organisations appear moribund and continuing improvement requires new institutional arrangements. Ending one institutional arrangement often happens in the name of starting something new.

O nce we start looking for the ends of knowledge, then, we notice that interlocking questions about purpose and completeness are central to many of our scholarly undertakings. It can be easy to identify some knowledge projects that failed for good reason: alchemy, phrenology and astrology, for example, are now understood as abandoned pseudosciences (though the latter has taken on new life in 21st-century culture). Other disciplines’ deaths have also been reported, albeit perhaps prematurely. In 2008, Clifford Siskin and William Warner argued that it was time to ‘write cultural studies into the history of stopping’. In a blog post titled ‘The End of Analytic Philosophy’ (2021), Liam Kofi Bright opined that the field was a ‘degenerating research program’. Peter Woit used similar language to describe string theory in an interview with the Institute of Art and Ideas earlier this year; he called it a ‘degenerative program’ whose goal of unification had been ‘simply a failure’. And Ben Schmidt, in his blog, has diagnosed ‘a sense of terminal decline in the history profession’ given cratering numbers of academic jobs. These fields have produced valuable knowledge, but (according to these authors) they may have taken us as far as they can go.

Rather than focusing on a single field, we surveyed knowledge producers from across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, inside and outside the university, to answer the same question: what are the ends of your discipline? While we encouraged them to consider multiple kinds of ends, we did not prescribe a definition for the term and we recognised that some would reject the premise itself. We did not expect consensus, but we did find points of commonality. This synthetic approach revealed four key ways in which to understand ‘ends’, which emerged collectively: end as telos, end as terminus, end as termination and end as apocalypse.

The first two definitions relate most directly to the work of a discipline or an individual scholar: what is the knowledge project being undertaken, and what would it mean for it to be complete? Most scholars are relatively comfortable asking the former question – even if they do not have clear answers to it – but have either never considered the latter or would consider the process of knowledge production to be always infinite, because answering one question necessarily leads to new ones. We argue that even if this were true, and a particular project could never be completed within an individual’s lifetime, there is value in having an identifiable endpoint. The third meaning – termination – refers to the institutional pressures that many disciplines are facing: the closure of centres, departments and even whole schools, alongside political pressure and public hostility.

How can we get anywhere if we cannot even say where we want to go?

Over all this looms the fourth meaning, primarily in the context of the approaching climate apocalypse, which puts the first three ends into perspective: what is the point of all this in the face of wildfires, superstorms and megadrought? For us, this is not a rhetorical question. What is the point of literary studies, physics, history, the liberal arts, activism, biology, AI and, of course, environmental studies in the present moment? The answers even for the latter field are not obvious: as Myanna Lahsen shows in her contribution to our volume, although the scientific case is closed as far as proving humans’ effect on the climate , governments have nevertheless not taken the action needed to avoid climate catastrophe. Should scientists then throw up their hands at their inability to influence political trends – indeed, some have called for a moratorium on further research – or must they instead engage with social scientists to pursue research on social and political solutions? What role do disciplinary norms separating the sciences, social sciences and humanities play in maintaining the apocalyptic status quo?

To some extent, then, particular ends are less important than the possibility of discovering a shared sense of purpose. Ultimately, we hope to show what the benefits would be of knowledge projects starting with their end(s) in mind. How can we get anywhere if we cannot even say where we want to go? And even if we think we have goals, are we actually working toward them? Ideally, a firm sense of both purpose and outcome could help scholars demonstrate how they are advancing knowledge rather than continuing to spin their wheels.

A s we noted, our survey found four ideas of the ends of knowledge: telos, terminus, termination and apocalypse. But in answering the question of the ends of their disciplines, our contributors fell into another set of four groups, which cut across the three-part university division of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. One group took the approach of unification: how could the author’s field achieve a unified theory or explanation, and how close is the field to that goal? A second group argued that the purpose and endpoint of knowledge production is increased access, and that such access is key to social justice. Discussions of utopian and dystopian outcomes comprised a third group, while a fourth located their ends in the articulation and pursuit of key concepts such as race, culture and work.

These four groupings – unification, access, utopia/dystopia and conceptualisation – synthesise many of the ways that knowledge workers respond when asked to consider their discipline’s ends, from seeking a point of convergence for knowledge to articulating the central project of their field. In this way, we asked contributors to reimagine their places within the university structure. As we know, any individual scholar’s research or methodology – what we have called her knowledge project – might diverge significantly from those of her colleagues within a department or discipline. The 19th-century formation of the university established our three primary divisions of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Now, we are proposing a thought experiment of a new four-part structure. What might a department or division of unification or conceptualisation look like? We are asking how knowledge production might change to fit the present moment if we organise ourselves not by content – English, physics, computer science and so on – but by how we understand our ends.

At the same time, these ends are necessarily interconnected, and individual research projects would likely fit into several at once. As Hong Qu argues in his contribution to our book, for example, individual researchers and teams working towards autonomously learning AI systems, or artificial general intelligence (AGI), will need more deliberate exposure to moral philosophy, political science and sociology to ensure that ethical concerns and unintended consequences are not addressed on an ad hoc basis or after the fact but are anticipated and made integral to the technology’s development. Educators, activists and policymakers will concordantly need more practical knowledge about how AI works and what it can or cannot do. Achieving the immediate end of AGI entails the pursuit of a new and more abstract end greater than the sum of its disciplinary parts: ‘a governance framework delineating rules and expectations for configuring artificial intelligence with moral reasoning in alignment with universal human rights and international laws as well as local customs, ideologies, and social norms.’ Qu explores potential dystopian scenarios as he argues that, if the end of creating ethical AGI is not achieved, humanity may face a technological end. In this way, current disciplinary divides are driving a society-wide sense of potential doom.

The strategies that got us this far may not be the ones we need to move forward

Returning to the Enlightenment shows how concerns over disciplinary divisions have been present since their inception. In 1728, Ephraim Chambers, editor of the Cyclopædia , wondered ‘whether it might not be more for the general Interest of Learning, to have all the Inclosures and Partitions thrown down, and the whole laid in common again, under one undistinguish’d Name’. By the end of the century, the redivision of knowledge had been formalised in the proto-disciplinary ‘Treatises and Systems’ of the Encyclopaedia Britannica . In 1818, the rise of specialist groups like the Linnean Society and the Geological Society of London led the eminent naturalist Joseph Banks to write: ‘I see plainly that all these new-fangled Associations will finally dismantle the Royal Society.’ Disciplinarity was seen as ending some kinds of knowledge while not fulfilling their ends.

The boundaries established in the mid-19th century and hardened throughout the 20th are now maintained managerially and financially as well as through methods and curricula; they are often reified by architecture and geography, with humanities and STEM departments housed in buildings on opposite ends of campuses. For a long time, these tactics and strategies worked: they gave the new disciplines that emerged from the Enlightenment time and space to grow. Disciplinarity offers an important means to certify knowledge production.

The strategies that got us this far, however, may not be the ones we need to move forward. If the utmost end of the university is or should be the advancement and distribution of knowledge – an increasingly open question in some quarters – then, at the largest scale, the ability to determine and articulate shared ends among fields of knowledge would be an important step toward addressing institutionally entrenched, often counterproductive, divisions and authorising new systems and organisations of knowledge production. Can we escape the discourse of competition and crisis, which tends to keep us focused on the health of individual disciplines or college majors, by reorganising knowledge production around questions or problems rather than objects of study? What if, instead of endlessly attempting to analyse and remedy the troubles of a particular division, we turn our attention to the system of division itself?

Our volume is an initial attempt to see what the advancement of learning could look like if it were to be reoriented around emergent ends rather than inherited structures. The question of ends must continue to be pursued at increasing scales, from the individual researcher, to the office or department, to the discipline, to the university, to academia and to knowledge production as a whole. The shared project of considering the end(s) of knowledge work reveals the rich history and scholarly investments of individual disciplines as well as the larger goal of producing accurate knowledge that is oriented toward a more ethical, informed, just and reflective world. We are, in many ways, only at the beginning of the end.

An older man stands proudly in front of his house near Leipzig, east Germany after reunification in 1990. A German flag hangs from a ground floor window.

Economic history


In post-communist eastern and central Europe, history is intensely personal and economics is saturated with moral feeling

Till Hilmar

how to write an academic goal essay

Nations and empires

Dream of the Russian tropics

Imperial Russia had little access to the bountiful tropics that other empires enjoyed. So it created its own in the Caucasus

Oleksandr Polianichev

how to write an academic goal essay

Stories and literature

Vergil’s secret message

Long derided as mere coincidences, acrostics in ancient poetry are finally being taken seriously – with astonishing results

Julia Hejduk

how to write an academic goal essay

Freedom at work

There is always a demand for more jobs. But what makes a job good? For that, Immanuel Kant has an answer

Two Asian film actors are fighting kung-fu style on the beach dressed in 1970s style casual clothes

Film and visual culture

Fighting kung fu

From chopsocky films to disco earworms, Asian caricatures have proliferated since the 1970s. Can Hollywood kick the habit?

Stephanie Wong

how to write an academic goal essay

Philosophy of language

Quantum poetics

How Borges and Heisenberg converged on the notion that language both enables and interferes with our grasp of reality

William Egginton


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