Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.
Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CSUCI Code of Conduct.
View the examples
View Sample Reflective Essay #1
View Sample Reflective Essay #2
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What is a reflective essay?
A reflective essay is basically a very personal one. It is not as if you are standing on the outside looking in but rather you are on the inside writing about what is happening to you there and then. Of course the facts in any essay are important but in a reflective essay what is more important than the facts is what you think about those facts. A reflective essay could well be described as a personal essay.
Some important questions
Before you start to write your reflective essay, there are two questions you should ask yourself.
- What exactly are my feelings about this topic?
- How does the topic impact my life?
These two questions are very important. Before you even plan your reflective essay let alone write it, you should list the answers to those two questions above. Your answers will influence the way you write your reflective essay.
As with any type of essay, once you finish you should always check over your work. You check for basic things like spelling, repetition and grammar mistakes but in a reflective essay you do much more.
Not only should you look for basic mistakes, in a reflective essay you should check to see if the answers you gave to the questions above have been fully and clearly addressed in your essay. Remember it is a reflective essay. It is an inward looking essay. It is a personal essay. You won't get the best possible marks for your essay if it is just a well-written essay. It must be well-written and be reflective. Remember this is a personal essay. It’s a bit like keeping a journal or writing a review of a play or film you have seen. What did the experience do for you?
Finish with the question
Remember that your essay has not only been written as part of your course and thus to assess your ability to research well and think clearly, is also a piece of writing which will be read by others. You want to get them involved in your essay. One interesting way to finish a reflective essay is to finish the question. Ask the reader if they felt that you have explained the impact the topic has had on your life. It's a clever technique to reinforce the way this reflective or personal essay has impacted your life.