Higher education requires a lot from its participants, and perhaps the most notable example is the notorious college essay. Essays are required assignments in the vast majority of college-level classes and are typically the “make or break” portion of your grade. They are found in almost every department or major, and they start as early as freshmen year, persisting throughout graduate school.
Papers are such an integral part of the university experience that it can feel daunting for those just getting started. According to the board at Minorities to Majorities, college essays may feel like an uphill battle, but they are significant parts of academia.
So, here is how to tackle them.
- Use Reliable Sources
To efficiently write a college-level essay, you will always be required to seek, utilize, and cite peer-reviewed sources. These references can be found in academic journals, in books at your university’s library, or from your class lecture. What is important is that you understand what these citations are saying, why they are significant to your essay’s topic, and how you can incorporate them into your paper.
This is one aspect of the essay-writing journey that most students detest. It requires sifting through and critically engaging with academic jargon that may or may not suit your essay, all the while taking up time that could be spent writing said paper. However, no essay appropriate for higher education can be written without a strong foundation provided by professionals’ scholarly work in the same area of study.
- Proofread with Outside Help
Double-checking your work is vital when it comes to making it your best possible effort. Yes, there are ways to do this yourself—by rereading it days later with fresh eyes or printing it out and rereading it on a tangible page, but the best way to ensure success is to outsource opinions and skillsets.
Peers you can trust are some of the most significant help to your academic career. They can catch punctual or grammatical errors, gauge whether they understood all of the points you made, and finally compare your understanding of the assignment to their own.
Websites like Grammarly are programmed to read your work and give punctual and grammatical feedback. Don’t underestimate the importance of this kind of proofreading in college—a symbol misspelling could mean many points deducted.
- Utilize Your Professors’ Office Hours
Ultimately, your professors are there to help you, and they have set up weekly office hours where they can do that. During class, professors and teachers’ assistants are often spread thin by the lecture and answering quick questions, which is why time needs to be set aside to talk to your professors one-on-one.
Showing up with questions about the assignment, clarifying the lesson, or even an early draft of your essay is a sure-fire way to get ahead of your peers. You will even earn your professor’s trust—not all students come to office hours, which benefits the academic standing of the few who do.
Most professors keep their office location and weekly hours on their syllabus, but if your professor does not, ask them personally before or after class or send them an email.
Essays are the backbone of many students’ academic careers, and that’s why all students must understand how to execute them early. The likelihood that you can get through higher education without knowing how to write a substantial essay is slim, and therefore it should be taken seriously.
Next time you are having trouble writing a good college paper, consider these steps to guarantee a successful final product.