Best College Essay Preparation Tips

As students transition from high school to college, they often notice that there is a significant difference in the way they are expected to research and craft essays. Although it might initially seem overwhelming, it is actually quite straightforward after learning the basics. By working through the process one step at a time, essay writing becomes much more manageable and it can even help to get better grades. Read on for some valuable tips for writing good essays with the following essay writing resources.

Brainstorming
Before writing an essay, students need to come up with a topic. The chosen topic will help to bring focus to all the other steps in the process. A great way to brainstorm is to think out loud by discussing ideas with another person. On the other hand, those who prefer to work individually might use a mind map to visually plot out topics related to the class that they are writing the essay for. These college essay tips explain how to brainstorm in different ways to find a viable topic.


Researching
Once you have a broad topic, the research stage helps to bring focus to a more specific point to write about. Research is typically done in a library or online. Think on a larger scale too, and try to research in other areas. For example, first-person interviews are a great way to obtain information that might not be available in the usual outlets. While researching, always keep meticulous notes, as well as full details about where the information was sourced. Quoted material should bear quotation marks to avoid plagiarism later on. Use these tips for writing good essays to learn about researching essay topics.


Outlining
A common situation that invariably tends to bring on writer’s block is staring at a blank document and wondering how to turn it into a multi-page paper. At this point you might wonder, “Where do I start? What should I write about?” An outline is a way of creating the basic skeleton of the essay. It organizes the writer’s thoughts in a succinct manner, so that it is easy to see how and where each argument will be presented. Look at these college essay tips to learn how to create an effective outline.


Writing and Referencing
The writing stage involves fleshing out the essay outline that was previously drafted. Throughout the essay, pay special attention to how you explain the topic and elaborate on arguments. For example, don’t simply state the argument or idea and leave it at that. Instead, state valid points that fully demonstrate your position to give the reader your take on the topic. Remember, any opinion is valid as long as it is properly backed up. While writing, use quotes and examples from your research to lend credibility to the paper. Take special care to clearly denote when an idea is attributable to another person.


Citing
Any idea, quote, or sentence in an essay that originated from another person should be cited. For example, a writer who includes an explanation from a scholarly journal, or a snippet from an email interview would need to cite those as external sources. The exception to this is common knowledge. Mentioning that the Earth is round is not a statement that needs to be cited, even if countless other writers have also mentioned it. However, taking a statistic about the Earth’s circumference from a scientific study is an example of a piece of information that would need to be cited. There are several different citation styles; writers should use the one that is most appropriate for their field of study. When in doubt, ask the professor which citation style they prefer. The essay writing resources below offer some insight into when to use a certain style. Ignoring citations will not make a writer get better grades by seeming smarter; instead the implications can be quite serious, often resulting in a failed grade or expulsion.


Editing Your Final Product
Editing is a step that allows writers to fine tune their work into a more precise piece of writing. After initially writing the essay, take a break from it to give your mind a chance to relax. Later on, read the essay out loud to another person. Ask them to question when an idea doesn’t make sense or if it is not explained well enough. Incorporate any changes and then take another look through the paper. This time check the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage. Beware of using complicated words or jargon simply for the sake of it. It is much easier to get the point across to the reader by using simpler and more concise language. The college essay tips in the links below elaborate on the process of editing, revising, and proofreading.

By Scott Shrum