Category Archives: College

How To Organize Your College Essay Properly

how to organize college essay
College freshman may get a rude awakening when they hand in their first college paper. What would have earned them high marks in high school is simply not acceptable anymore. High school papers, namely the five-paragraph essay, were your training wheels for more in-depth writing. Instead of looking at facts and pointing out general themes and concepts, college writing asks you to take a deeper look into logic, reasoning, context and analysis and structure your college essay well.

Ok, fine. But how do you accomplish that exactly? What does it look like? Here are some basic guidelines for how to organize your college essays:

Introduction

Your introduction should accomplish several things:

  • Introduce the topic you will be writing about.
  • Make the reader care about the topic.
  • Give them important information about the topic.
  • Convey your position on the topic in your thesis statement.

You can accomplish these with a few different introduction styles:

  • Offer a compelling example.
  • Quote statistics.
  • Use a knock-out quotation.
  • Tell a relevant anecdote.
  • Pose an intriguing question.

Tips on getting your introduction right:

  • Try writing it last. Sometimes, the introduction is the hardest part to write. After you’ve written your supporting paragraphs, you may have an easier time finding the right way to introduce them
  • Don’t be too broad. The “Since the dawn of time humanity has…” introduction should be eliminated. Give some of the above examples a try. Overly broad introductions are a waste of words. Get to the point.

Thesis statement

Your thesis statement defines your take on the subject you’re writing about. It guides the rest of the paper’s arguments. Ask yourself the following questions about your thesis statement:

  • Is it polemical? Can someone argue for or against this statement? If not, it’s weak and needs to be reworked.
  • Does it answer the question or prompt proposed by the professor?
  • Is it contained in a sentence or does it sprawl? A thesis statement is one sentence long and usually comes at the end of the introduction paragraph. Don’t use the introduction paragraph to write a long sprawling thesis statement. Instead, make it concise, specific and packs a punch.

Body paragraphs

This is where your essay will differ from high school writing the most. Body paragraphs will be developed in order to support your thesis statement, just like in a five-paragraph essay. However, the type of research and analysis you will use will be different. In the five paragraph essay, it was okay to write a paper on MacBeth by providing plot point summaries. But in a college paper, you can skip the summary.

You’re not proving to the professor that you read MacBeth. You’re proving that you did research and have developed an interesting and original analysis of it. Same goes with high school history papers where you basically listed events in your supporting paragraphs to prove your thesis statement. That’s no longer acceptable. Instead, you’ll be analyzing why and how certain events occurred, not affirming that they occurred.

Good body paragraphs should contain the following:

  • Well-researched evidence. Use credible sources from experts in the subject. Don’t quote dubious sources or statistics. Forget Wikipedia or someone’s personal blog (unless it’s a professor’s blog). Look for academic publications from known authorities on the subject.
  • In-depth analysis. This is where you start to develop critical thinking skills. Go beyond “who,what,where,when” and start to answer “why and how.” Consider historical context. If you’re writing about an artist, what was the political era in which his work was produced? What were his influences? How did he come to develop his particular style? Why was it important then and why should we care about it now?
  • Contain counter-arguments. It’s not enough to support your thesis statement. That alone doesn’t make for a strong essay. If you wrote a great thesis statement, that means there should be a strong counter-argument to be considered. Your research should reflect not only why you chose the side you chose, but the scope of your choices. What does the opposition think? Why do they feel that way? What is the basis of their argument? Your essay will be all the more convincing if you show the reader that you’ve considered all sides of the subject, and chose the position presented in your thesis statement.

Conclusion

In high school, your conclusions were a summary of the main points in your essay. College essays require a more elaborate conclusion that goes beyond summary and shows reflection, analysis and synthesis of the ideas presented. Here are some ideas for how to conclude a college paper:

  • If you introduced your essay with an anecdote or example, revisit it at the end to close the circle. How have your arguments shed new light on this story?
  • If you didn’t use a quote in your introduction, consider using one at the end. Especially if it seems to capture the essence of your arguments.
  • Suggest ideas for next steps in this area or further research needed in order to make advances and solve problems.
  • Indicate why this issue is relevant and why people today should care about it.

Edit

After you’ve written your first draft using the guidelines from above, it’s a great practice to do a reverse outline. A reverse outline provides a thorough review of your essay draft by checking for flow and helping you spot gaps in your logic as well as spelling and grammar mistakes.
After you’ve written your draft:

  • Read and take notes on your draft. Does it make sense? Is there a better example you could have used? Have you stayed close to your thesis statement or did you start to stray?
  • Number your paragraphs. Sometimes you may find that reordering your paragraphs will help the essay flow better. Numbering them will make it easier for you to reorganize it later.
  • Make your outline. Dissect your draft by using it to make a basic outline. What are the main points of each section? Then take a look at your outline and analyze which areas need to be reworked for coherence and flow.

Get Back to Studying Routine (Checklist for College Students)

studying routine for college studentsout of your hair and get yourself into back-to-college mode again.
It’s that time again. The long days of summer are coming to an end and the fall semester is upon us. Some students have a difficult time leaving the liberty of their summer days behind and getting serious about studying again. It’s perfectly natural, but it’s also time for you to shake the sand

If you need some help regaining your focus after the long break, here are some tips for you on how to develop a studying routine:

Make a schedule

The best way to start getting into a routine is to make a schedule of all of your activities. Whether you write out your schedule by hand and tape it to your wall or use a time management app like rememberthemilk, writing down your commitments helps you remember to keep them. Include things like class schedules, extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, job schedules and important events. By making a schedule, you’re also mapping out where there might be conflicts, so you can anticipate them and come up with a solution.

Choose your study environment

Part of establishing a routine is finding the place where you’ll study. Some people do great work in public places like cafes or on a park bench. Other people need utter silence and prefer to study in an isolated corner of the library or in their room. Figure out where you work best and carve that space out as yours. If you’re tempted to lie down and take a nap if you study in your room, pack up your books and head to the library. Wherever you choose, try to stick to that place. It’s a way to trigger your brain into work mode when you sit down at your favorite study spot.

in study groups

If there’s a study group for a course you’re struggling in, sign up for it. Exchanging ideas with your peers can help answer questions and clear doubts you have about the material. It can also help you prioritize studying for this course, which is exactly what you should be doing if you find yourself falling behind.

Set goals

Set your goals for the semester. Not only academic goals, though they should definitely be included on the list, but goals for other activities you participate in. Don’t make your list too long. Prioritize and focus. What’s really important to you? Maybe you want to earn a 3.5 this semester. What kind of grades would you need in order to achieve that? Maybe you want to make the Varsity Women’s Rowing Team or be elected class president. What steps do you need to take in order to make that happen? Pick 2-3 goals and write them down somewhere you’ll see them often. Goal-setting gives you direction and purpose in your activities and helps you maintain your focus.

Prioritize

Don’t let yourself become overloaded with activities. A full course load, a part-time job, captain of the basketball team, lead in the play, volunteering for a local tutoring program, etc. It’s not always possible to do everything you want to do and when you try doing too many things, you end up short-changing yourself. Choose the most important activities to you and eliminate the rest. If you find yourself with enough free time, then you can start adding more activities to your schedule.

Limit social media

Social media is the most popular way to procrastinate and the easiest way to waste precious studying time. If you find yourself grabbing your cell phone and checking your messages every time you try to read your Advanced Economics textbook, it’s time to get your social media habits under control. Consider leaving your cell phone in your room while you go to the library to study so you’re not tempted to look at it. Or, if you need to have your phone with you, at least turn off the sound notifications so you won’t check it every time it beeps. Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to check it every day and stick to it. Turn your cell phone off at night and get a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Get enough sleep

Though many college students adopt the adage “You can sleep when you’re dead” throughout their college years, sleep deprivation and brain functioning don’t go together. In fact, the average adult needs 8-10 hours of sleep in order to achieve optimum brain activity. Lack of focus, tiredness, crankiness are all symptoms of not getting enough sleep. For more information on sleep and how it effects you, read this article. Remember that the point of college is to study and earn a degree. Take it seriously so you can show up to your classes and give your academic life the attention it deserves.

Eat well

College students are notorious for their poor eating habits. For many students who live on campus, this is their first time away from home and their first experience having to control their diets. Excess caffeine, junk food and alcohol are epidemics on college campuses. The brain is an organ, like any other organ in the body, it functions best when it’s being fed a healthy diet. Tuna, salmon, walnuts, and blueberries are all considered foods that contribute to healthy brain activity. For a list of healthy food choices, click here. Constant hangovers, sugar highs and upset stomachs can have negative effects on your academic life. Eating a balanced diet can give you the energy you need to complete your workload.

Have fun

Don’t forget to have fun. Working too hard can become counter-productive. If you have a tendency to be a workaholic, it’s best you start learning this lesson early before you begin your professional career. Take breaks when you need to. And make sure you spend time with your friends and the rest of the campus community. Giving your brain some time to relax will allow you to return to your studying with new energy.

How to Write an Outstanding Resume If I’m a College Graduate

how to write a resume tips for college graduates

Recent college graduates entering the workforce tend to hit a wall when it comes to writing their resume. What should I include? How to write a resume if I have no work experience? The good news is that, with few exceptions, the rest of your peers are all in the same boat: no experience, but hungry for opportunity.

According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) there are 1,855,000 new college graduates from the class of 2015. In other words, you are far from alone. Employers are aware of the fact that you just finished college. They don’t expect you to show a resume flush with professional experiences. So, in that sense, you’re off the hook.

But that doesn’t mean that you still won’t be able to write an impressive resume. Without any tweaking, lying or exaggeration, you’ll be able to present your best self to future employers by following a few tips.

Don’t be afraid to include summer jobs

If you worked part or full-time during your college years, even if it was flipping burgers in your home town during the summer, make sure to include it. Even if the job you held is totally unrelated to the field you’re planning to enter, the fact that you have job experience counts for something. You learned to be accountable, you learned to take orders from superiors and work with others.

If you were given extra responsibilities such as making bank deposits, opening or closing the establishment, or training new employees, include it on your resume. Employers want to know who you are and what qualities you possess. Don’t try to be the “ideal” candidate. Tell them what your real experiences have been and let them judge if you’re a fit for them.

List internships or relevant jobs instead of coursework

If you happen to have had the good fortune and determination to land an internship and paid position in your field of interest, include them. In this case, you’re better off focusing your resume on these experiences than on coursework during college.

List coursework if you haven’t had professional experience

yet So, you haven’t had internships or paid positions in your area of study. That’s not uncommon. But you did take four years of international business courses and interviewed well-known business leaders for your final research paper. Or you’re an art major and took an art restoration course in Italy last summer. Anything that shows your preparation to enter into this field, even if you haven’t had practical experience yet, is valuable.

List extracurricular activities

Especially if these were areas you excelled in and if they show leadership. If you attended a few meetings of the Environmental Club, don’t list it. List activities in which you had full and significant participation. Captain of the varsity rowing team, class president, editor of the college newspaper, peer interviewer for college applicants… You get the picture.

Don’t embellish or lie

The worst way to start out your post-graduation career is by lying. Exaggerating skills or flat-out making things up on your resume will only get you into trouble. No matter how badly you want a certain position, bragging about expertise you don’t possess will give you more problems than you can handle. You likely won’t be able to perform the job you were hired to do, and by the time employers realize this, you will have done a lot of damage to your reputation. Your time would have been better spent acquiring the skills you need than trying to fake it.

Pay attention to language

A resume isn’t just a list of skills nor is it an expository essay. At its best, it’s a carefully crafted summary of your most relevant experiences. Short pronoun-free and fluff-free sentences that use action verbs make winning resumes.

Don’t write this: “I spent last summer waking up at 5 am to take the train to the city, since punctuality is my specialty. I was given access to client portfolios and was asked for my contribution in how to increase their capital. I performed various administrative duties and participated in important executive meetings. All in all, I performed to the satisfaction of my superiors.”

Instead, try this: “Acquired practical knowledge of executive office culture. Projected investment capital possibilities for firm’s clients, some of them multi-billion dollar ones. Brainstormed with industry leaders on ideas to increase capital by 100% within the next two business quarters.”

The first one is too long and full of non-essential information. Showing up on time for work, for example, is a given, and doesn’t earn you bragging rights. The second simmers down your internship into a sumptuous description of relevant experiences and details.

The GPA rules

If your GPA is over 3.0, you’re encouraged to include it. If it’s lower, leave it off. If your GPA for coursework in your major is higher than your overall GPA, list your GPA for your major. Especially if you’re applying to positions that relate to your major.

List honors and awards

If you made the dean’s list, were granted a prestigious scholarship or earned any other awards from your college, make sure to list it.

Don’t include references

A list of references is basically the same as fluff. Don’t include it. Use your resume to highlight important information about yourself that employers want to know. If you do a good job with that, then you can give them your list of references in person when you land an interview.

Develop a professional social media life

You’re leaving college and entering the working world. Your online life will need to reflect this. If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot and include relevant information that isn’t on your resume. Consider creating a professional website or blog to showcase your expertise in your area. If you already have one, include a link to it on your resume. Don’t include links to your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts. Learn to separate the professional from the personal.

The Advanced Guide To Writing a Research Paper

how to write a research paper

Research papers are designed to display your level of expertise in a subject and your ability to transmit information in a compelling way. While it’s essential that you do extensive research before writing your paper, the tricky part actually lies in the writing process. There are many common mistakes to avoid and even great writers have areas where they can improve.

Here’s a breakdown of areas to focus on while writing your research paper:

Gather evidence

Sometimes a teacher or professor will give you a specific topic they want you to write on. In that case, you should read with that topic in mind and highlight or write down examples that support the topic you’ve been assigned. Other times, it’s up to you to decide what to write about. In that case, you have more leisure to explore what arguments interest you most as you read.

Make a list of possible thesis

As you do more research, you can start to narrow down the list. Eventually, you’ll end up with one or two options that have the strongest evidence and from there you can choose which topic to write about.

Introduction

The introduction is your opportunity to hook your reader. Get them interested in your topic so that they want to read more. There are several approaches you can take to the introduction:

Tell an anecdote – an interesting story humanizes the issue and helps the reader identify with the topic on a personal level.
Use a quotation – sometimes there’s a perfect quote for your topic that gets right to the essence of your thesis. If you have that quote in stock, use it.
Use a statistic or fact – they add credibility to your claims and also show you’ve done your research.

Thesis statement

A good thesis statement presents a strong opinion about something. It’s usually presented in a way that could be argued for or against. For example: Parents should monitor their children’s social media accounts. This is a strong statement that someone could very well argue for or against.

A weak example of a thesis statement: Some parents find it worrying that they have no control over their children’s social media activities. This statement is useful to the argument and can find its way into another section of your research paper. However it’s not strong enough to qualify as a thesis statement. Its use of the qualifier “some” makes it difficult to argue against.

Your thesis statement should be made in the opening paragraph of your research paper. It should be the last sentence of your first paragraph.

Show the evidence

After you’ve presented the thesis statement, you’re ready to get into the meat of your paper with supporting paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence in which you present a statement. After the statement you’ll present evidence as to why that statement is true based on the research you’ve done. You’ll also explain why you believe the research supports your thesis statement which is the analytical part of your essay. Example:

Many children have no adult supervision over their social media accounts (topic sentence). A study by XYZ in 2014 revealed that less than x% of parents monitor their children’s social media accounts (supporting evidence). This can pose a threat to children’s safety and parents should make more efforts to be aware of their children’s social media interactions (analysis).

Transitions

In order for your research paper to flow logically, it’s important to pay attention to transitions. Transitions are what bring the reader from one idea to the next. The analytical statement in the example paragraph above can lead to a new topic sentence.

Ex: The number of children who are lured by strangers through social media is increasing. This is a new topic sentence, but it’s related to the analysis presented in the last paragraph and it helps support the thesis statement.

A weak transition would be: Many children use the internet to play video games with their friends and do not need to be monitored. This is an unrelated topic and does not support the thesis statement or offer a strong transition.

Keep it interesting. In order to maintain your reader’s interest, it’s important to pay attention to how you’re presenting these ideas:

  • Vary your sentence length and structure.
  • Check for overused words. Use a thesaurus to help you find new ways to express the same idea.
  • Steer clear of cliches, stereotyping and generalizations.
  • Keep the language simple – avoid over-reaching with sophisticated vocabulary.
  • Write clean sentences – avoid run-on sentences or overly complicated explanations.

Conclusion

The conclusion is where you wrap up your research. It’s a good place for you to pose questions or to suggest further steps or research for your topic. Leave the reader pondering about the future of this issue.

Leave time to edit

There is no substitute for time in the editing process. I don’t mean the amount of time you spend editing, but the amount of time you spend between the moment you write the last sentence and the moment you begin your editing process. Your thoughts need time to settle. The longer you give yourself to rest, the easier it will be for you to spot holes in your argument, weak topic sentences or flaws in your analysis. You’ll also have an easier time recognizing grammar and punctuation problems.

How to edit

The best way to edit is to read your paper out loud. Reading aloud turns off the auto-correct that your brain does when reading. You’ll pick up on more grammar mistakes and also have a better sense of the rhythm of your paper. Have you varied sentence length and structure or does it read as one long mono-sentence? Are some of your sentences difficult to read out loud? That probably means you can go back and simplify the language. If spelling and grammar are not your strong points, have a friend read it for you or use an editing app.

20 Laziest (But Effective) College Life Hacks

Study may sometimes try to get you down and leave no time for anything else! So what should you do? Here are some tips to hack your college life and enjoy it to the max.

lazy

1. Get Stuff Done! You know the drill – you sit down to seriously work – for real this time! – on that paper that’s due on Tuesday. Three hours later you’ve gone through another four levels on a FaceBook game, commented on a status update from your ex, watched a video of a pug jumping up a set of stairs and gotten into a bit of a flame war with someone on a message board. Self Control and Cold Turkey are here to help. These web based programs let you enter a list of websites or programs that are off limits for a certain amount of time. Just load in the website addresses and program names, set the timer and Bingo! You won’t be able to access any of them – or turn off the blacklist – until the timer is up.

2. Lending out a Book, lecture notes, MP3 player or anything else you actually want to get back one day? Snap a picture of your friend with the item about to be borrowed. Set a timer on your phone for when it’s supposed to be returned.

3. Are the charging wires for you MP3 player, phone, tablet, e-reader and laptop turning your desk into the land of spaghetti? Grab a box of medium or large binder clips, attach them to the edge of a shared table or desk and thread each charger end through the wire handle. They’ll keep the ends sticking up and ready to use and keep them from slipping back into the tangle of cords.

4. Setting your alarm for an especially early class? Change the alarm to a song you can’t stand, set the volume to max and then toss it across the room before you go to sleep.

5. Need a cold beer or soda, like, NOW? Make the most of your study break with a cold drink. Wrap a wet paper towel around your drink can or bottle and pop it into the freezer for 15 minutes. You’ll get an ice cold drink without having to wait.

6. Your parents just told you they’re coming over and the whole place smells like dirty feet? Tape a few dryer sheets over your air conditioner or air vents and turn them on. The place will small amazing in no time.

7. Don’t throw out that Post-It note quite yet! Pop motivational or flash card post-its all over. Once the test has passed, run the sticky side between the rows of keys on your keyboard to get out dist fluff and whatever else gets stuck in there. You’ll have used them to help prepare for your exams and you get a clean keyboard too!

8. Tired of marketing emails clogging up your Inbox? Filter by the word ‘unsubscribe’ and you’ll catch them all. Just move them to your Trash or set your filter to do it automatically.

9. Getting ready to haul your textbooks, DVDs, games or other books down to sell them to a student or secondhand store? Use a rolling suitcase instead of cumbersome boxes. They’ll be easier to transport and you won’t have to worry about the box falling apart.

10. When you need to copy a direct quote from the internet into your paper, use Ctrl+Shift+V to paste it into your document. You’ll copy the text but all the internet page formatting will be stripped away.

11. Get some quick sources for your paper by grabbing a definitive book on the subject. Flip to the back and go through the book’s bibliography – instant source list.

12. Make the most of Office Hours. Hitting up professors during Office Hours can help you get a better understanding of the material and it also makes you more memorable to the instructor. You’ll stop being thought of as a student number and start being remembered as that clever kid with all the questions.

13. You won’t need to buy textbooks for every class. Not every professor insists you buy the recommended textbook. Check with former students or email the professor directly before the class is set to begin and ask if the textbook is mandatory.

14. Check out international versions for textbooks. Often, textbooks printed as International Versions have the same content, just on lower quality paper. The price is typically less than half of what you’ll pay at the student store but you will have to order them online and allow a longer delivery time.

15. Grab your gum. Chewing gum – particularly minty gum – has been shown to boost focus and concentration.

16. Go old school when it comes to notes. Writing notes and brainstorming by hand helps you to retain information better than typing on a computer. Go back to pen and paper to outline a paper, make notes about a chapter or brainstorm for thesis ideas.

17. While you’re at it, take notes for someone else. Taking notes that someone else will need to understand will force you to take better notes in general. Being able to explain a concept to someone else will force your brain to process the information more thoroughly.

18. Need to get practice exams for a class? Enter “site:edu [subject] exam” into a search engine to get old exams to practice on for classes you find especially difficult.

19. Underpromise and overdeliver. When you’re planning out how to tackle studying, get your part of a group project done or finish a paper, give yourself plenty of time and set small, realistic goals. Give yourself more time than you need and you won’t end up with deadline jitters.

20. Get rid of your phone! When it’s time to buckle down and study out your phone on silent and leave it in another room. Text messages, phone calls, status alerts and breaking news can all wait for an hour.