10 Tips to Write a College Level Essay

10 Tips to Write a College Level Essay
1) Pick a good topic. The worst thing you can do when writing a college essay is to be lazy and pick a topic on a whim. Bad or uninteresting topics lead to bad and uninteresting papers. If it is not a topic that you, the writer, care about, how can you expect your reader to care?
2) Focus on thesis. Every essay needs a thesis, which is a sentence that represents your main point (usually located in the first or second paragraph). What are you trying to say with your essay? Picking a good thesis is the hardest part of writing a college essay, but the good news is that everything is easier from that point forward. Every subsequent point flows from that thesis and should either support or provide a tangential anecdote to that main point.

3) Outline your paper. Some authors can just sit down and write and let the story take them wherever. However, most writers do not function well in this fashion. Create an outline that will give your paper an overall direction, then all you have to do is begin filling in the gaps.

4) Use topic sentences. In an essay, there is no reason to surprise the reader. Topic sentences are like mini-theses. Topic sentences are where the first sentence in each primary paragraph serves as the main point that paragraph is going to prove. Using topic sentences help keep your essay organized.

5) Quotes make the point. The readers (often your professors) are not going to be willing to take your word for many facts or points that present. Using quotes from other materials can go a long way to making your paper come across as more competent than your classmates.

6) Pick relevant sources. Of course, random quotes do nothing to push your argument. You must pick quality and relevant sources to back your statements. That would be articles, papers, interviews, etc. from qualified individuals who would be in the know. Sorry students, that does not mean Wikipedia!...But that does mean feel free to peruse Wikipedia's sources for items you can vulture.

7) Use citations. When you do quote, paraphrase, or offer any idea that is not your own, make sure to use proper citations. There are multiple ways to cite sources (MLA, Chicago style, et al). Make sure to ask your instructor which way they prefer.

8) Use proper spelling and grammar. This should go without saying, but many would be shocked how many students turn in essays with simple errors in grammar and/or spelling. Spell check is a nice word processing feature, but do not depend on it to be the end-all-be-all.

9) Proofread your paper. This is the best way to catch grammatical errors and also to make sure that your paper reads the way you want it to. If you proofread your paper with an open mind, 99% of the time you will find some things you can improve on after the fact. This is a good thing.

10) Learn from your mistakes. The fact of the matter is that you will not always write the perfect essay. When you get your paper back, keep an open mind and find areas where you can improve. If you're not aiming to improve as a writer, what's the point?

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