Author Archives: Steve Aedy

How to Write a Proper Cover Letter for Your First Job

job-search-cover-letter

Employers often get hundreds of applicants for a single position. Applications and resumes turn into a sea of sameness when there is nothing to distinguish one candidate from another. Because of this, submitting a cover letter essentially increases your chances of landing the job. But how do you write one when you have no job experience at all?

The Anatomy of a Cover Letter

Before we touch on what to put in your cover letter, let’s look at how it is laid out. When writing a cover letter, it’s good practice to follow a basic outline that most employers recognize. This includes:

  • Your name and contact information, including your email address and current phone number in the upper right-hand corner.
  • The name of the business or the human resources contact’s name on the left.
  • Clearly stated purpose of the letter. For example, “Re: Application for Chief Candy Tester.”
  • A salutation to the person reading the letter. For example, “Dear Mr. Wonka,” or some other cordial greeting.
  • An opening paragraph to introduce yourself to the reader of the cover letter.
  • A main paragraph highlighting your skills that are relevant to the job sought.
  • A closing paragraph, asking to be considered for the position and expressing your interest in an interview.

Writing a Cover Letter with No Job Experience

Don’t consider writing a cover letter for a first job to be an obstacle; use it as an exercise in creativity. What you lack in formal experience, you may make up for in real-life background. For instance, if you are applying for a job as a secretary, highlighting your office skills is a good strategy. Do you type at blazing speeds, know how to run MS Excel, and have experience with MS Word? These are all translatable to the position you are seeking.

Volunteer work can also be useful when you have no real work experience to cite. Did you volunteer at the local church to answer phones for the pastor’s office? Did you make flyers for the Beta Club in high school or design pages for the yearbook? Think out of the box, recalling previous experiences where you had an opportunity to shine when performing tasks related to the job. Here’s what you may want to highlight:

  • your strengths and any personal attributes that set you apart as an asset to the company;
  • educational achievements that put you in a good light that are relatable to the position;
  • participation in community or school volunteer organizations;
  • hobbies and personal interests that are related to the job;
  • experiences that highlight your capacity for teamwork.

Traps to Avoid

Now that you know all the “do’s”, it’s time to take a close look at the “dont’s”. Simple writing blunders can quickly ruin the impression from your awesome cover letter. Luckily, they’re easy to avoid.

  • Overly long cover letters. Hiring managers are busy, so keep it short, simple, and to the point.
  • Unnatural language. While the letter should be semi-formal, it shouldn’t use overly formal language. This can come across as disingenuous. For example, instead of saying “advantageous,” sub in “helpful,” or instead of “subsequently,” use “later” or “after.”
  • Underselling yourself. One of the hardest things in life is to boast about yourself, but a cover letter really is a brag letter for all intents and purposes. Don’t be shy; be your own biggest fan.
  • Fluff. Don’t write words just for the sake of filling up the page. For example, don’t use a string of adjectives when one will do. Avoid constructions such as “I’m sincere, honest, and trustworthy;” these words all say the same thing.

With some nonconventional thinking, it’s altogether possible to write a “wow” cover letter, even if you’ve not yet earned a penny in the workforce. Show confidence in your assessment of yourself, and it will spill over into the impression that you make with potential employers.

Best Music to Write Essays to: Focus, Think, Write

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If you’re like most students, writing can be frustrating, especially if you’re tense, stressed, or facing a looming due date for an important essay. The answer to staying focused and tapping into your creative juices may be as nearby as your earbuds: music. A whole body of research suggests that listening to music while you write boost’s your brain’s capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, which is responsible for creative thinking (and thus, writing). So what type of music improves your concentration and focus the most?

Choosing a Genre

Various studies have been undertaken over the years on music and focus, particularly when it comes to writing (and also, studying), and researchers have found that music sans lyrics is the most effective at keeping you on task and churning out meaningful words. Music with words can be distracting to some writers, causing them to pay more attention to the lyrics than they are to the creative process.

That’s not to say you can’t throw on an epic soundtrack if you’re dealing with a bugger of an essay, a little Kanye, if you’re feeling like a superstar at a particular moment in time, or even some Adele to soothe your soul while you bring your ideas to life. However, electronic music, with its ambient notes and repetitive beats, and Baroque-period classical music, with its harmonic chords, are thought by researchers to be the best at releasing the inner Stephen King or G.R.R. Martin. “Brandenburg Concerto #3” by Johann Sebastian Bach gets numerous nods from researchers when it comes to heightening concentration and productivity.

Although choosing music from these genres can be as personalized as your own specific tastes, there are lots of recommendations floating around the interwebs when it comes to the “right” songs for writing. But don’t worry, we have a writer-approved playlist to help you focus and unleash your creativity.

  • First Breath After Coma” by Explosions in the Sky. If you’ve watched “Friday Night Lights,” then you’ll recognize this tune as the theme song for the show. This instrumental has limited vocals and is interesting enough without being really intense, so you can focus on the job at hand – writing.
  • You Wish” by Nightmares on Wax. This electronic instrumental has an R&B twang and provides tranquil background noise to get your neurons pumping and the words flowing.
  • So What” by Miles Davis. This 60’s instrumental from one of jazz’s greatest will help you maintain focus without distracting you from what you’re writing about.
  • The Bridge of Khazad Dum” by Howard Shore on “The Lord of the Rings” soundtrack. You don’t have to live in the Shire to appreciate this soothing instrumental.
  • Metamorphosis II” by Philip Glass. This piano solo provides mood-lifting background noise for your late-night writing enjoyment.
  • Time” by Hans Zimmer from the “Inception” soundtrack. This peaceful instrumental will keep you focused and relaxed.
  • Shempi” by Ratatat. This vocal-free instrumental has a high-energy feel, helping you stay alert and keep your focus on pushing through the last few hundred words of your research paper.

White Noise

White noise is also worth a mention for breaking the boredom of silence that weighs down some writers. Picture it: crickets chirp, birds sing, and thunder rolls in the background while you pound out 1,000 words on the French Revolution. Words flow like milk and honey from your fingertips, and you finish up your piece with enough time left over to binge watch a few eppys of your favorite show before heading off to bed. That’s the power of white noise. Although not exactly music per se, white noise can put an end to the monotony of quietness, which can, ironically be a big distraction.

Create your own white noise mix with Noisli, a free app (also available on laptops and PCs) with an on-board mixer that lets you add nature sounds, storm sounds, coffee shop sounds, and water sounds, among others, to find the right level of background noise for your tastes.

Music is a great source of inspiration. Find the perfect tune and have fun working on your next assignment.

Skills You Need for College

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You have finally made it to high school graduation and college is looming large in the near future. But are you ready? You know your way around a scientific calculator, and you can write a killer research paper, but do you have the soft skills to be a successful college student? Being academically prepared and being prepared in other areas of your life are two different things altogether.

College readiness goes beyond the courses you’ve taken and the SAT and ACT exams you’ve sat for. Some of the skills that you need to be a successful college student are often not found in a classroom setting. Let’s take a look at some skills you need to ensure your successful passage from graduating senior to lowly freshman undergrad, ready to “adult.”

Time Management

Time: we only get so much of it, and what you do with it really matters. For this reason, one of the most valuable skills you need to hone prior to heading off to college is time management. (Consequently, mastering time management is a good idea, since you will need this skill in nearly every area of your life in adulthood). Learn now how to prepare a schedule that factors in time spent in class and time spent studying and preparing – really studying and preparing – for each class. Now balance that with everything else that you’ll want and need to do once you’re “out on your own”. Maybe you need to factor in time for working, and you’ll naturally want to make time for attending student activities and hanging with your friends. Creating a schedule that works for you is a skill that must be learned, even if on the fly, by all successful college students.

Study Skills

Even if you have some mad study skills in high school, college-level work is another animal altogether. What was “good effort” in high school may not equally translate in college. Learn how to take notes effectively, use the library for research, and hone your study skills now – you’ll need them when you’re taking advanced classes in college.

Managing Stress

Stress management is essential for college students. Whereas before, you were in a more sheltered high school and home environment, living on campus means doing many of the things that adults have to do, all on your own. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to keep stress to a minimum. Find coping mechanisms, whether it’s prayer or yoga, to help you de-stress.

Managing Money

While some high school graduates have the money management thing down pat, the truth is most kids fresh out of school have no idea how to budget and handle money. Learn all you can now about making and sticking to a budget, balancing your checkbook, and living within your means. Most college students live on a shoestring budget, so learning how to get the most for your money and avoiding indulgent purchases is important.

Self-Care

You’ve so far had your parents to monitor your health for the most part. Now you’re in charge. You have to learn how to care for your physical health. Practicing good hygiene and self-care, making time for proper nutrition, and seeking medical attention when a problem arises is all on your shoulders now.

Personal Responsibility

Learning personal responsibility is key to mastering all of the above skills. Personal responsibility means being honest and having integrity, but it also means respecting the rules and following them. It is also your responsibility to avoid risky behaviors that are often enticing to young students and making smart choices now instead of making decisions that might negatively impact your otherwise bright future. In essence, you are the master of your ship, and it’s in your hands how you steer your course.

Writing a Strong Hook Sentence: Start with a Knock-Out

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in his “A Tale of Two Cities.” This sentence, with its riddle-like structure that both challenges and enthralls the reader, is often used to define the hook sentence concept. As the name implies, a hook sentence “hooks” the reader from the get-go and keeps him actively engaged with the words on the page. Getting the reader’s attention early on in your essay is paramount to keeping his attention going so that he’ll actually want to read the rest of your work. The good news is that you don’t need Dickensian aspirations to come up with a killer hook sentence for a simple essay. Let’s look at how you can sell your reader on what your essay has to offer.

Identify the Audience for Your Paper

If you’re writing an essay, you likely are writing to please one person only – your instructor, teacher, or professor. In this case, your audience is clearly defined, and the hook sentence that you write for this type of essay may be completely different from the hook you might come up with if you were writing an essay to share in the school paper with your friends. The audience determines the message that you portray in your hook sentence; it should speak directly to the audience, and the audience should be able to easily relate to what you say on its own level.

Figure Out What Matters to Your Audience

It can also help to determine what matters to your audience. Your professor is looking for specific information; likely this means that you should demonstrate knowledge of the subject being discussed. The professor may also be looking for mastery of APA or MLA style elements. By contrast, if you’re writing an opinion piece for the newspaper, then write with an eye to appealing to like-minded readers with whom you share a common concern.

Effective Hook Sentences

There is no formula for creating a hook sentence, so let your creativity and a few proven strategies guide you. Consider these examples:

  • Give advice. “If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend first.”
  • Provide an anecdote. Use a short or unbelievable factoid or story about an incident or person to get the reader’s attention. “Mariah Carey lives in an apartment worth millions of dollars, but her sister is homeless.”
  • Make a bold statement. “Before long, doctors will be able to print new kidneys using 3D printing systems.”
  • State a contradiction. “Donald Trump claims he can balance the national budget, but he’s filed bankruptcy several times.”
  • Define something as your hook. “Agoraphobics are people who do not go out of their homes for extended periods of time; some haven’t been shopping in years.”
  • Present the reader with a dilemma. “Enforcing immigration laws keeps terrorists out of the country, but it also breaks up families and destroys lives.”
  • Go for a quote. “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know” – W. H. Auden.
  • Open with humor. “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
  • Ask the reader a rhetorical question. “What does it really mean to be bored?”
  • Share a statistic or factoid. “As many as 80 percent of students report cramming for finals the night before.”
  • Share a personal tidbit. “When I was growing up, there was no Internet, so kids looked up information in encyclopedias.”

Ultimately, the hook sentence you choose should be one that sparks interest and that is directly relatable to what you plan to write and the style you choose for your essay. A good hook can make or break your essay, so put a little elbow grease into crafting yours to make your essay shine.

How to Write Better in College: The Tips You Should Try

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What are your plans for the upcoming semester? Wild parties? Meeting tons of new interesting people? Taking part in numerous fun extra-curriculum activities? Yep, all of this is great. But, apart from that, you’ll need to write. A lot.

College essays, research papers and case studies often constitute a significant part of your overall grade. Thus, you need all of that to be really good. No one is born a genius writer. Acquiring and perfecting this skill takes time and practice. With our tips you can definitely make it happen.

Strive for Clarity

Almost every type of college paper has rigid structure. Following it has nothing but benefits. First, you have clear understanding of the succession of the ideas you’re going to present. Second, your professor won’t have to suffer, wading through the forest of your thoughts. Third, you’ll train your mind to organize your thoughts in an efficient way, which will certainly be helpful in your future workplace. Just think of a persuasive essay, for instance. You’ll always need a thesis, supporting arguments and a killer conclusion. Isn’t it the structure of “give-me-a-raise” speech? See, following the structure is great for you. Not only in terms of college essay writing.

Develop Your Vocabulary

Academic writing assignments challenge you to demonstrate not only clarity and cohesion of thoughts, but also command of English. That’s why the use of proper and sophisticated vocabulary is absolutely essential. There are plenty of ways to enrich yours. You may subscribe to the word-of-the-day email, use thesaurus, and, most importantly, read as widely as possible. Your mind will have to build connections between different concepts and come up with more effective solutions every time you write a paper.

Read Other’s Work

Of course, you don’t have to sneak into your professor’s office to take a peek onto your fellow students’ essays. Just read them whenever you have the opportunity. Try to be as unbiased as possible. However, don’t hesitate to make a little note in your head, whenever you see a mistake or the need of improvement (telling your peer about it won’t hurt also). This approach will help you sharpen your editing skills and facilitate work on your future assignments.

Refer to the Prominent Figures

The topic you’ve been asked to write an essay or a research paper on has probably been already studied. Include the opinions of the most influential people of the field into your work. It surely has to be based on your thesis, the result of your reflections and analysis. However, mentioning the most important players of the field certainly adds credibility and authority to what you have to say.

Make sure to cite each source you use properly. Stick to the guidelines, provided by your professor. Whether it’s APA, MLA or Chicago formatting style – use it. Having followed this rule, you won’t have to worry about being accused of plagiarism or having your paper returned for corrections. It may seem complicated at the beginning. However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Examine Every Detail

Correct spelling, punctuation and syntax cannot be underestimated. No matter how brilliant your ideas are, they may get lost in typos and grammatical mistakes you’ve made. Thus, stick to the good old revision and editing. Have a friend or a family member read your work. You may miss disappointing errors just because you’ve developed “editor’s fatigue”. That’s why having someone else read it for you certainly won’t hurt.

Writing is a demanding craft. However, every challenge it poses helps you grow and develop not just writing, but also cognitive skills. Use our tips and enjoy the ride!

How to Write a Last Minute Essay

college-writing

If you are among the many students who put off writing an important essay right up until the last minute, you’re not alone. Procrastination is the number one detriment to student success. Luckily, you can write an effective essay in very little time using the tips below.

Unplug

You have little time to get the essay from an idea on a paper to a fully typed document. Thus, not a single minute to spend updating your status or tweeting about how stressful the situation is. Hop off Facebook and turn off your cell. Time to dig in.

Pitch Your Idea to Yourself

Hopefully, you have a topic already. Now sell yourself on the essay and what’s included in it in order to form your introduction. Think of the main idea you want to convey in the essay, and then break that idea down into three to four good sentences that give the reader a prelude to what you’re writing about.

Come Up with a Thesis Statement

Thesis statement is arguably the most important element of your work. All the ideas will revolve around it. It has to answer to major questions. First – “What is this essay about?” and second “so what?”. Your thesis statement has to demonstrate your point and be debatable enough to devote the whole essay to it.

Prepare an Outline

Once you have the idea where your essay is going to go, set all the checkpoints your reader will have to pass. Point out the thesis statement, the most important arguments and a conclusion phrase. This way your mind won’t race and you’ll have a solid foundation of your work.

Look for the Sources Online

There’s no time to run to the library when you’re in a hurry, so online sources are the next best thing. Use your school’s library database if possible to find reputable reference literature such as journals and studies.

Template an Old Essay

If you have an essay that already has the proper line spacing, margins, and formatting, then use that document as a template for quick formatting and works cited page. Just make sure to fill in this form with brand new ideas of yours.

Start and Finish Strong

Pay special attention to the introduction and the conclusion. Even if what you write “in the middle” is less stellar, hooking the reader from the intro and giving them something to ponder in the conclusion is a good way to leave an overall good impression.

Create the Reference Page as You Go

If your essay requires a reference page or bibliography, add your sources as you go. This saves time when it comes to looking up information after you’ve already written the essay.

Use Wikipedia

While good old Wikipedia is not a trusted source itself, the footnotes there often provide great source material on your topic. Although you don’t have the time to double-check every fact you include into your work, just make sure you place the references where you originally intended. The good thing is that they may even turn out to be cited according to the style you need.

Proofread

Turning work in hastily can lead to errors. Give everything a quick once over before you submit your work to catch any typing errors or poor grammar beforehand. What’s even better, you can ask a friend to take a look at it. Your concentration may be totally ruined after that mind-squeezing writing session.

Once your essay is turned in, consider rethinking your work habits. Giving yourself plenty of time to finish your work ensures that you get the maximum credit and best grades possible.

How to Write a Narrative Essay

narrative-essay

The word “essay” elicits two very different kinds of reaction from college students. Some are thrilled by the prospect of getting to create a unique piece of writing. Others become apprehensive about failing to tell an engaging story and getting their grammar wrong. Writing any form of essay requires a certain amount of skill, but it is the determination that gets you across the line. When it comes to crafting a narrative essay, students are required to be descriptive and have an open mind full of appealing ideas.

As the name clearly suggests, the narrative essay is one where you have to tell a story instead of convincing the readers to agree with a point of view. Your task is to present your perspective on a personal experience and allow the readers to emotionally invest themselves in a story. Even though you are not required to create an argument, you still have to give your essay a purpose or a position. This means that the writing must have a clear thesis and a string of well organized ideas that form a meaningful narrative.


Create an Outline

The first step to writing a narrative essay is to build an outline that will enable you to organize your thoughts and funnel them into a concise story. You will have limited time and words in which to describe your tale, hence it is best to know in advance where you are going with your story.

When outlining your essay, be sure to come up with the main idea before focusing on any of the details. Build your story around this central idea by creating paragraphs that support your thesis in different ways. The purpose of each paragraph is to lead the reader back to the main theme of your story. For example, if you are writing a narrative essay on “An Embarrassing Experience”, you should use the first paragraph to introduce the event that caused you embarrassment and then describe the various reasons why the experience was embarrassing in the paragraphs that follow.

At the very end of your essay, you should write a concluding paragraph where you sum up your narrative and leave the reader with your final thoughts. It is very important for the conclusion to give the readers a sense of closure or resolution.

Be Selective with Your Vocabulary

To make your narrative essay stand out, you need to make your description as vivid as possible. In order to do this effectively, you must use the right words, terms and phrases. Keep the principles of organization (spatial order, chronological order and climactic order) in mind when describing individual events. The use of descriptive words and appropriate synonyms is absolutely essential to make your work attractive and impressive. Instead of giving the readers a bland and detailed account of a particular event, you should present a gripping narrative that grabs and retains the attention of the readers.

Leave out details that do not add to the excitement of the story. Avoid the use of words that sound too formal or academic. Using pretentious words that confuse the readers defeats the purpose of a narrative essay.

Revise and Improve Your Narrative

In writing, there is always room for improvement. Do not just proofread your essay. Look for ways in which you can sharpen the details, use stronger verbs and rearrange the phrases. Furthermore, do not change your story when revising because it creates plot holes and makes your writing look choppy.

Once you are done writing, read out loud to make sure that your sentence construction is smooth and fluid. You can ask a friend or a tutor to read your narrative and offer suggestions. Do not hand over the essay to your professor unless you are confident that it is your best effort.

What Professors Expect from Your Writing: Prepare for the Requirements

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You may not think of yourself as a writer, and you might be convinced you’re never the best writer in the class. News flash: you don’t have to be. The job description for “student writer” is pretty basic, once you distill it down to some key goals—and once you’re focused on just what a professor wants out of your writing.

Here are the basic tricks of the trade for successfully getting through the written work that most every academic degree requires.

Compliance

Let’s be clear: professors devise assignments around certain protocols and they do so for specific reasons. That makes it your job to follow the assignment instructions to the last, minute detail. Who knows why your professor restricts you to 1,007 words, or requires a bigger font than you normally type with. He or she demands green ink on lavender paper? Do it. Whatever is requested of you as a student writer, do it.

Read carefully – and understand thoroughly—what the assignment parameters are. Then, make sure your submission matches exactly what the professor asked for in terms of content, word count, formatting, and deadlines.

Knowing Your Reader

This is an easy one, since it’s usually singular situation: the only eyes likely to grace your essay are those of the professor, or maybe a peer or two along the way of the writing and revising process. In most cases, then, you’re faced with the “initiated audience,” where you share your writing with people who know the subject at hand. No need to start from ground zero or explain away too many basic points. Assume your reader is up to speed and write accordingly. That will result in a more streamlined approach, where your prose can get to the point and really dig into the meat of the chosen matter. Your professor will appreciate your awareness of his or her expertise, and revel in an advanced discussion.

Clarity

Think clearly, write clearly. The end result? You guessed it: clarity. I guarantee that this tops the list of what your professor wants in an essay or research paper.

A professor shouldn’t have to work too hard to understand a writer’s basic idea or argument, then to follow the series of ideas that explain or support it. The best way to really nail down your most coherent position or argument is to start with an idea and then throw questions at it: start with the ever-important “Why?” and work your way down to “So what?” Once you yourself have dealt with this vital interrogation, then it’s likely the prose will stand up to closer scrutiny from the prof. Remember, too, that it’s the writer’s job to work out a logical sequence of ideas ahead of putting pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard), then to constantly circle back to that main theme, keeping the entire essay anchored in the central, formative points.

Consistency

Everyone’s writing style is different, because a person’s writing method and the outcomes are aligned at least somewhat with his or her outlook on life, social conditioning, and personality quirks.

That said, an academic essay is not necessarily the place to revel in deeply personal insights. Tone down colloquialisms and biased rhetoric that can take a reader off course. And know that in your capacity as a student writer, you must strive to develop a consistency of style that speaks to who you are as well as to how you respond to and adapt to various assignments. A professor will enjoy editing and grading your written submissions when he or she senses your voice and your perspectives in play in the prose.

4 Steps to a Winning Admission Essay

A college admissions essay is perhaps one of the most important documents a person will ever write. Believe it. Admissions committees (typically made up of the very professors with whom you want to work) will absolutely read your submission—and then happily use your words for or against you in the selection process.

Any university professor will tell you that a search committee relies on the admissions essay for the insights it provides in helping to measure the “fit” of an applicant to a particular program. A smart search committee member evaluates the attributes of both candidate and school to estimate whether or not an applicant will succeed at the institution.

So with that in mind, how do you develop just the right tone and message for the essay? Consider what follows as a guide toward putting your best essay forward. Your academic success might depend on it.

Do Your Homework

Feed into the ego of the admissions committee members by noting their accomplishments, which obviously shape the reasons you want/need to study at that particular place. Make it clear that “thanks to Dr. Y’s recent published study on X,” there is no better place on the planet for you to come do your work and subsequently make your own brilliant contributions to the field—all filtered through their genius, of course. Are you getting me here? Don’t pander, and don’t wallow. But by all means, speak directly to and about the target school, acknowledging that behind every desirable academic program are instructors, researchers, and administrators making it shine.

Get Personal

Think of the admissions essay as a portrait of you (minus the fake smile and perfect hair) that reveals something about your personal truth. Heavy, I know, but a candidate must relate particulars about just why they want to attend a designated school—and you can do so by setting up some amount of a personal history. Are you the first of your family to go to college or pursue a graduate degree? Maybe your childhood was fraught with varying levels of pain related to financial realities, health problems, or other “issues” you’ve managed to overcome? Say so. Build your case—but don’t go crazy on this front. No need to pull the sympathy card, but if there lurks in your past a legitimate “shadow” which somehow fueled your desire to get into this school, then tell that story.

Build Up Your Story

Now, don’t simply accumulate a list of bullet points; instead, write prose that sequences from one idea to the next via logical transitions and vivid, descriptive wording. Try to offer the admissions committee readers a narrative flow, so that they come away with a sense of where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you plan to go. In other words, structure the essay on a sort of past-present-future platform, and always anchor your “plot” in how this school—how this program—is the only logical jumping-off point for your next phase.

Pay Attention to Details

Have two or three people (who have a grasp of the language) read your essay before you submit! It’s imperative to get feedback on content, readability, and even “mechanics” (errors in punctuation are more distracting than you might think). It’s critical that you pad the writing-editing-revising-submitting sequence with the time necessary to do all of the above.

As you craft the essay, always remember that a school cares about who it accepts; after all, a student’s academic trajectory should result in his or her entry into the professional arena, where that now former student will make a distinguished mark in the field. That mark will soon enough reflect positively back onto the school, the program, and yes—on the professors themselves, which bring us full circle: know your audience.

There it is. The road to a truly outstanding admission essay is not that long. The truth is, it does require diligence, creativity and perseverance. However, destination is worth it.

How to Write a Thesis Statement For Your Research Paper

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Writing a good, solid thesis statement is an important skill to learn.

The thesis statement serves many purposes:

  • It’s the springboard for the rest of your paper and the central point of your arguments. A well-formed thesis statement makes this process more fluid. A poor thesis statement makes it all the more difficult.
  • It helps your reader understand what they should get out of the paper.
  • It’s your elevator pitch, a way to persuade the reader to your side.

Here’s how to write a rock-solid thesis statement:

First Step

Write some drafts. Your thesis statement isn’t an immediate process. After doing enough research, you should be able to decide what side or point of view you’re taking on a topic. Write down a list of 5 practice thesis statements that are summaries of your opinion. For example, if your topic is “How does the Syrian refugee crisis affect Europe?” you can write down some thoughts based on your research:

  1. Some citizens in European countries complain of increased violence (Cologne attacks on New Year’s Eve, Paris attacks, other individual cases).
  2. Some citizens are afraid of increased Muslim presence in their cities as they associate Muslims with terrorism.
  3. There are cultural conflicts and conflicts in values.
  4. It puts a strain on economic resources at a time when many countries are experiencing an economic crisis.
  5. There are many movements that encourage and welcome the refugees including some grassroots organizations to help clothe, feed and house them.

As you write these sentences, you may notice specific recurring themes or threads. Gather the best of these themes and write a practice thesis statement:
The Syrian refugee crisis has brought up a lot of fears and conflicts among European citizens.

Second Step

Test it to see if it holds up:
Once you’ve identified the basic theme you wish to argue, you’re now ready to edit your thesis statement.
A good thesis statement has the following qualities:

  • It’s specific. A thesis statement needs to address a specific topic. A sentence like “Since the beginning of time, refugees have had a hard time integrating with their new nations” is too general and doesn’t tell the reader enough about what you plan to discuss in your paper. If your statement is too general, narrow it down.
  • It’s polemic. A good thesis statement takes a strong stance. Don’t take the middle road and be neutral. Whether or not you have a strong opinion on the topic, you’ll need to pick a side in order to present your research. A statement like the one in step 1 “The Syrian refugee crisis has brought up a lot of fears and conflicts among European citizens.” is a good start but it doesn’t state an opinion. Try this instead:
    “The Syrian refugee crisis has had a negative impact on many European cities.” Someone could argue for or against this statement.
  • It’s supported by solid research. Maybe your personal opinion on this issue is that the Syrian refugee crisis has had a positive impact on Europe. But you haven’t been able to find enough evidence to support this viewpoint. In that case, your best bet is to go with the side where you can present the most convincing evidence, regardless of personal views.
  • It’s engaging. Does it make someone want to read further? Is it stated in such a way that intrigues someone and makes them want to find out more? If so, it’s a successful thesis statement.

An ideal thesis statement is one that interests the readers and takes a strong stand on a controversial question. Take time to rework and edit your thesis statement before delving into the rest of your essay as it will form the way you present your evidence. Good luck and happy writing!