How to write a college essay–you’ve probably heard this numerous times, possibly even in a variety of different ways: how to write an essay, how to write a five paragraph essay, etc. For most people it’s boring, annoying, and dreadful. But, writing an essay can quickly become one of the easiest ways for your to get a good grade if you follow some of the advice below.
1) Don’t panic
If you want to learn how to write a college essay, my first advice is: don’t panic. I’ve gone through panic mode before and have watched plenty of peers do it as well; we start to tap our pens, watch the clock, and pretty much focus on everything except our essay. Remember, you probably won’t fail so long as you write something down that’s somewhat intelligent. If you’re panicking, you probably won’t write much (at least not intelligently) and then you won’t do well at all. So, take a few deep breaths and relax before you start writing.
2) What kind of essay is it?
It’s very important for you to understand the assignment given to you; are you supposed to write a researched essay, or is it an in class essay? When you first enter college, one of the first English classes you will take probably won’t involve much research. Instead, they focus on writing skills and try to get students to write coherently. As such, you will probably have assignments that ask you to write in the first-person about an experience you’ve had, a response to a movie you have watched, or provide an opinion answer to some type of question. Usually, an in-class essay will not require research. You might have some materials to work with, but they will be primary materials. For the sake of this article, I’m not dealing with research papers but rather how to write a college essay that is mainly given in class.
Before you start writing your essay, take a few minutes to outline or brainstorm your thoughts. This might seem like a waste of time, but it is very helpful in getting your thoughts together, which in turn will help you form good paragraphs. Also, it’s much better to have some type of plan before writing than it is to experience writers block halfway through your essay. Take a sheet of scrap paper and write down any ideas that you have, then start to formulate them in an outline fashion. After laying this groundwork, finding the words to write should be easy.
Most college students write generalized, or “fluffy,” introductions. It’s better, however, to have something that draws readers in and makes them want to read the rest of your essay. So, make your introduction both narrow focused and intriguing. The introduction is the first impression that you will be giving to your readers; make it count!
5) Body paragraphs
The body paragraphs should logically support your introductory thesis. If something does not support your thesis, than it is not necessary to be in your essay–scratch it out! These paragraphs should have the bulk of your support in it, along with any quotes or figures you may have. If you are writing an essay that is based off of a book that was read for class, be sure to include a good amount of textual support.
The closing should wrap things up nicely; it should not merely state what the introduction said or your thesis. It may be good to reinforce the ideas that your thesis conveyed, but it is not necessary for you to repeat it verbatim. Make sure that the closing offers the readers something to think about, such as a concluding statement and forces them to remember what you wrote. You may, if you find it will help, repeat some of the ideas you went over in your body paragraphs, but don’t just “copy and paste.”
7) Proofread and edit
If you truly want to know how to write a college essay, than you should be setting aside time to proofread and edit your essay at least once. I know that time is often an issue, but editing is important. Without it, you might be handing in a paper with numerous spelling mistakes, poor syntax, or even missing elements. I’ve watched people get essays returned to them with poor grades, simply because they forgot to answer part of a question, had some important things missing, etc. If they edited and proofread, however, those mistakes would have been addressed already and their grade would have been much better.