Tag Archives: college writing

College Writing: Why You Need It in Your Life

a girl thinking

Some of you might be wondering about the necessity of writing so many essays, papers, reports, and analyses throughout your academic career. Do you really need it? Is this skill so important? Let’s find it out through the following blog post.

What Is Different About College Writing?

Is there anything different about college or academic writing that makes it so important to our knowledge and careers? Academic writing might be different for each of the students simply because they study different subjects and classes, and thus have different requirements for their papers. However, the terms “academic writing” and “college writing” are pretty similar and can be used to describe the overall tone and list of basic rules applied when writing college or university papers, as well as scientific research and dissertations. 

When talking about academic writing among students, it’s common to use the words “college writing” due to a simple reason – the majority of students ace their writing skills specifically in college. But is it so different from high school writing?

High school essays are usually built in the same way – they are classic five-paragraph essays that require you to gather some kind of information into a piece to answer the asked question and fulfill the task. Such homework allows you to get acknowledged with a basic essay structure and general rules or requirements – you have to start it with an introduction, come up with a decent thesis statement, gather facts, and sum up with a conclusion.

Academic writing in college is far deeper. It teaches you how to analyze facts, think critically, prove your point of view, operate arguments and supporting evidence. Academic writing in college is also about you improving your researching and writing skills, learning a formal language, and expressing your opinions. All of these things are crucial for your adult life and college writing helps you in building those soft skills for your future career.

Why Do You Need It?

Many employers confirm that they prefer hiring college or university graduates even though practical skills can be taught in the process. But why? College gives you an opportunity to build not only hard skills but also soft skills, such as time management, teamwork, cooperation, perseverance, patience, etc. But one of the most important skills that you gain through college is critical thinking – the ability to analyze information, make decisions based on the current situation and data, and form a judgement.

The most common writing assignments at college are the ones that teach you how to:

  • Analyze: to dissect something into its component parts and explain how those parts function or fit together.
  • Argue: to state a point and back it up with arguments and proof.
  • Classify: to organize individual objects into groups according to their shared traits, independent of other groups of items.
  • Compare/contrast: in order to examine important similarities and differences between two or more subjects.
  • Define: To explain, research, or give a general description of a term, concept, or phenomenon.
  • Summarize: to rephrase the core idea or ideas of someone else’s writing.
  • Synthesize: to combine different components or ideas from two or more sources.

As you can see, each and every type of assignment can significantly boost your skills in various fields which are important for your future career and life in general. 

Though you might not be interested in a career as a writer, journalist, or even a scientist, college writing is still necessary in order to get needed skills that will help you a lot in other fields of knowledge. Moreover, college helps you organize your knowledge and structure it – instead of having random pieces of information mixed in your mind, you have rather formed and global understanding of connections between the facts, inner and outer correlations, how the systems work, and how to manage your knowledge to serve the practical problem-solving.

Critical Thinking

Developing your critical thinking while you are still in college is crucial as it helps you get a faster and better start in your career. The ability to cope with challenging tasks and operate information to your benefit is an important element of your soft skill baggage. 

Critical thinking helps expand your skill set even further. If you ace critical thinking, you can grow in any direction of your liking. Even if it is one of the rather creative ones. Each and every profession requires you to have critical thinking to operate the information that you get and make your own opinion.

Academic writing though is quite different from creative writing is not the opposite. It helps you reflect and observe, use your creativity and combine them with a scientific approach. Your essays should not be boring if they are academic. So, don’t feel limited or bounded by the assignment rules. Rather think of it as a challenge to put all of your skills into one particular task.

 

10 Essay Writing Tips For College Students

college essay writing tips

Freshman college students often feel overwhelmed by the new set of expectations on their essay writing. What earned them praise in high school may no longer meet the criteria of their college professors. Though the learning curve may be steep, students often find that by their junior and senior years, their essay writing skills have become finely honed.

Here are some tips for college students on how to write excellent essays:

Organize your ideas

Some students need to write outlines in order to organize their thoughts. Outlines are kind of like training wheels that are the teacher’s way of helping you learn how to organize an argument. If you don’t need an outline anymore, you may want to just write down some key ideas and sentences to get you started.

Write your essay out of order

Many students find it difficult to write the introduction first. They know what their argument is going to be and how they’re going to defend it, but they don’t know how to introduce those ideas to the reader just yet. So, skip the introduction and get straight to the body paragraphs. You’ll find that after working through your arguments and supporting your thesis, you’ll have an easier time writing the introduction.

Introductions

Okay, so now it’s time to actually write the introduction. Whether you’ve opted to write it first, second or last, there are good introductions and there are not so good introductions.

Some of them to avoid:

  • General introductions. Introductions like “Human history shows that man has always been obsessed with technology.”
  • Dictionary definitions. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “law” as “the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.” This is not only boring, but it’s stating the obvious. Everyone knows what “law” means. What’s different about your take on the law that will show us something we didn’t know before? That’s an interesting introduction.

Some introductions to adopt:

  • Ask a thought-provoking question. Something that will get your readers thinking about this subject and eager to read your arguments
  • Provide an interesting anecdote.  An anecdote can provide a great lead into your arguments by telling a compelling story.
  • Open with a strong quotation. Sometimes a quotation says it like nothing else. If you have that perfect quotation that will nail the essence of your essay, use it.

Conclusions

Conclusions can be just as tricky as introductions. You’ve done your research, you’ve presented your arguments, and…now what?

A good conclusion should achieve the following:

  • Leave your readers pondering the arguments you raised.
  • Make them feel they learned something useful.
  • Impress them with your knowledge of the topic.

One of the best ways to write a great conclusion is thinking about the next steps of the issue you’re arguing. If you’re arguing about legalizing gay marriage, for example, think about what are some of the next steps involved in this issue. What are the implications for the future?

How to research

Sometimes, a professor asks you to read a specific text and write a paper on it. In that case, you should read that text with the topic question in mind:

  • Take notes on sections that reflect the topic.
  • Use a highlighter to highlight sentences that will support your argument or serve as counterarguments.
  • Write down questions that could provide topics for further research.
  • Ask yourself what may be missing from the author’s argument? What other perspective might they have taken? Have you read other texts that provide complimentary arguments? What have other experts argued?

Avoid plagiarism

There are two kinds of plagiarism: blatant copying and simply rewording an argument. The first one is pretty straightforward and usually completely intentional: you’ve simply cut and pasted someone else’s text into your paper without giving credit. Depending on the frequency and degree to which it’s done, it can result in suspension, grade deflation or even expulsion.

The second type of plagiarism is trickier because sometimes students do this without even realizing it. You should do research and seek out the knowledge of experts in the subject. But you shouldn’t copy their argument and original ideas. The point of writing a paper is to practice coming up with your own argument based on the reading you’ve done.

Don’t over-quote

Okay, so you’ll avoid plagiarism by quoting your sources and giving them credit for it. And the occasional quote from an expert that clearly supports and illustrates your point is fine. But sometimes students rely too much on quoting others that they forget to develop and write their own paper. A couple of well-chosen quotes will show the professor that you did a good job with your research. But littering your paper with quotes will rob you of the chance to develop your own writing style and make it impossible for the professor to evaluate your ability to argue a topic.

Don’t write last-minute papers

Editing and rewriting can do worlds of good for your paper. It will help you work out the kinks in your argument, correct grammar issues, and leave your paper so polished it practically sparkles. But, editing also requires time. Not just for the editing itself but for you to have time away from your paper to let your thoughts settle, so you can look at it again with fresh eyes. Don’t leave your writing assignments to the last minute. Start on them as soon as possible so that you can leave yourself the time it takes to do an A+ editing job.

How to edit a paper

Here are some quick tips for your editing process:

  • Remove any sentences that use the passive voice.
  • Make sure you used the correct version of commonly confused words such as their vs. they’re, your vs. you’re, its vs. it’s.
  • Read each paragraph out loud and make corrections. You’ll be looking for grammar mistakes, awkward phrasing, holes in your argument, missing information to support your argument or miscellaneous information that could be left out.

Works Cited

A lot of students lose points because they haven’t learned how to format the Works Cited page. It’s best to learn it once and for all since you’ll be using it for every paper you write throughout college and beyond. Here’s a source that lays it out simply for you: http://writingcommons.org/process/format/formatting-styles/mla-formatting/608-formatting-the-works-cited-page-mla.