Sample Expository Essay: Factors Behind Success

EssayExpository Essay

The purpose of an expository essay is to inform the reader by way of explaining the topic. Like other types of essays, this paper presents a thesis statement expounded in three basic sections: introductionbody, and conclusion . This sample essay discusses some of the factors behind success including the role of chance and privilege.

While the concept of success can be defined in many different ways, the prevailing definition revolves around the idea of happiness emanating from material wealth. This definition features the usual trappings of success that most people aspire to financial security, high social status, career advancement, and unencumbered access to needs and wants including what can be considered the finer things in life. Alongside this notion of what makes success is the belief that it only takes hard work, courage, and dedication for anyone regardless of origins or background to achieve success. The  American Dream , for instance, is founded on the very belief in this promise. But contrary to this rather romantic assertion, the truth is more complicated. Success takes more than just wits and guts. While education and hard work certainly play a crucial role, other factors beyond individual control determine who succeeds and who does not and these include chance and privilege.


One of the crucial factors that increase the chances of success is education. In particular, getting a college degree is considered essential to making it in life. The belief that college is necessary is considered universal knowledge, and there is a good reason why this is true for the most part. Population growth, technological innovation, and globalization have not only made the world a smaller place, but have also generated more specialized jobs in various industries. While such jobs often offer high compensation, they also require specialized knowledge and training. This means that those who receive education have greater chances of securing higher-paying employment. There is abundant data that support this. The Social Security Administration (2015), for instance, reports that men who have college degrees on average and men who have undergone graduate studies earn around $900,000 and $1.5 million more in a lifetime than men who are high school graduates, respectively. When controlled for other factors, men with college degrees still earn around $655,000 more in a lifetime. These figures are unsurprising. Scholars have extensively discussed how wages for jobs requiring college degrees and more advanced studies have consistently grown in the past decades compared to jobs requiring unskilled labor (Mahuron, 2019). The difference in earnings based on educational attainment is proof that education is a key determiner of success.

Motivation and Hard Work

Apart from having the right knowledge and training, motivation and hard work are also considered as important factors behind the success. It has always been the saying that those who work hard are more likely to succeed (Bourdreau et al., 2001). Society knows now that this is not the absolute truth, especially in light of systemic barriers to success. However, the old notion does offer a kernel of truth. Studies show that by controlling for other factors, those who work hard and remain motivated are more likely to meet their goals and achieve success (Aburumman & Barhem, 2020). Researchers have identified some mechanisms behind the link between motivation, hard work, and success. Motivation keeps a person focused on their goals. It also enhances endurance and resilience, thus allowing a person to continue working hard. In more meritocratic settings where conditions allow for social mobility, motivation and hard work can eventually pay off (Hirschi et al., 2017).

Chance and Privilege

While it is true that education, motivation, and hard work play a role in securing success, the effect of chance and privilege cannot be discounted. In fact, chance and privilege may be far more consequential when it comes to achieving success than many other factors. Chance and privilege in the context of this paper refer to the factors that are randomly and unevenly distributed such as the location where one is born, socioeconomic status, demographic background, accessibility of crucial services, and availability of social networks among many others. All these factors can help or hinder a person in their pursuit of success.

The presence or absence of these conditions can have a profound impact on a person’s chances of succeeding. Take for example sex and gender. It is well-documented that many women endure the gender pay gap , which means they often get lower wages compared to men who perform the same amount of work. Women are also less likely to get promoted to executive and leadership positions due to what scholars call  the glass ceiling , which can be described as prejudice against women in a male-dominated workplace (Babic & Hansez, 2021). Meanwhile, systemic issues like institutional racism can turn a person’s race and ethnicity into barriers to success. For one, people of color also endure wage gaps . Studies show that black men on average earn 20% less than their white counterparts (Porter, 2021). The wage gap is even wide for other groups. For example, the American Association of University Women (2021) reports that Latina women are paid just 57% of what white non-Hispanic men are paid for the same job. And if education and other crucial services like healthcare are important to succeeding, then those who have less access to these most certainly will have to tackle more barriers to success than those who are not faced with the same problems. Paying  crippling student debt , for instance, often prevents new graduates from focusing on building financial security at an early age and in the process holds them back. Income that they could have used for more productive projects like building savings or making a down payment for properties is instead diverted to paying debts. These are just a few examples showing how chance and privilege affect success.


Most people dream about success. And while the idea of success varies from one person to the other, it often involves material success such as having the right job that pays well and being able to afford the finer things in life. Education, motivation, and hard work have all been proven to increase a person’s chances of achieving success. But while these are crucial elements, chance and privilege should not be ignored. Indeed, factors that fall under these like sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, location, and many other demographic details may exert more influence over a person’s trajectory. Whether people are aware or not, there is no denying that success is not completely in a person’s hands. Success may elude even the most motivated and hardworking person if they have to face barriers that are beyond their control. Acknowledging this reality is key to addressing these barriers and leveling the playing field for everyone.

The expository essay is basically a general term for a type of essay. It can be further categorized into other more specific types such as narrative, descriptive, compare and contrast, and cause and effect . Students are required to master all these types of essays. But if your schedule is too full, you can always count on a professional writer from CustomEssayMeister to come to your aid. Our expert writers will be more than happy to assist you.


Aburumman, O. J. & Barhem, B. Y. (2020). The objective and subjective aspects of career success. Journal of the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, 22 (10), 2285-2300.

American Association of University Women. (2021). Latinas and the pay gap. AAUW.

Babic, A. & Hansez, I. (2021). The glass ceiling for women managers: Antecedents and consequences for work-family interface and well-being at work. Frontiers in Psychology .

Bourdreau, J. W., Boswell, W. R., & Judge, T. A. (2001). Effects of personality on executive career success in the United States and Europe, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58(1), 53-81.

Hirschi, A., Nagy, N., & Spurk, D. (2017). Assessing key predictors of career success: Development and validation of the career resources questionnaire. Journal of Career Assessment, 26(2).

Mahuron, S. (2019, January 28). Skilled labor vs. unskilled labor . Chron. 

Porter, E. (2021, June 28). Black workers stopped making progress on pay. Is it racism? The New York Times.

Social Security Administration. (2015). Education and lifetime earnings .

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