Writing isn’t everyone’s forte, and for many, your desired profession likely won’t require excellent writing skills either. Even then, writing good college essays can be the difference between a mediocre GPA and a great one. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to write a great college essay since nearly every one of your classes will require one or more, as part of the curriculum. The good news for you is that you don’t need to be the next Ernest Hemmingway or Stephen King.
Here we have a comprehensive guide to help you write the perfect college essay-
Study and Pick Apart the Essay Prompt
Every college essay begins with an essay prompt. These are the instructions for the paper and layout the general guidelines such as which kind of writing style to use (MLA, APA, or Chicago) and other available instructions. This prompt is crucial since it entails the kind of content the professor wants to see. Since every professor is different, this means each paper could have different requirements based on the class. Well, the good news is writing prompts make it clear what is expected, and it can make your delivery smoother. So, take your time and study/read over the writing prompt, make sure it makes sense to you, and ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s also a good idea to jot down a quick outline for your paper as you read the essay prompt.
Create a Thesis Statement and Brainstorm
Along with an essay prompt, nearly every college essay will have a thesis statement requirement. Therefore, you should understand how to write a good thesis statement. This is typically one sentence at the beginning of the paper (in the introduction) that makes a claim based on your interpretation of the subject matter. This means someone should be able to refute or argue against your thesis statement. From this statement, you can begin to brainstorm on how to build the rest of your paper. For instance, your claim may require several points of evidence or explanation. At the same time, the thesis may need you to discuss counterpoints against your claim. Therefore, use the thesis as the “centre post” of the entire paper and use it to help inform the outline as well.
Every good essay includes sources. Whether your writing an opinion piece, a research paper, or something else, you need to include some sources. However, make sure every source is well-vetted and relevant to the subject matter, and try only to cite primary sources or experts – Also, make sure to stay away from sources with unclear evidence. Compile this list of sources and the data or content you’d like to use from the references before you begin writing.
Create a Draft
Begin writing in the body of the essay. You may even find it easier to start at random spots in the essay where you can expand upon your ideas. Either way, write without being too concerned about how it sounds. The goal of the draft is to get down your “rough” thoughts; you can refine them later. It also helps to write out your introduction after you’ve written the body as by then you are well versed with what is being communicated.
Another tip that helps is to think of yourself teaching a class on the subject. Imagine yourself talking about it, and write precisely what you would say. After you’ve written the draft, then go back and refine your ideas, format the paper, and proofread it.
Often, college students will miss points for three things- the most common is grammar or punctuation mistakes, the second is improper formatting according to the style chosen by the teacher (APA, MLA, Chicago), the third is weak or unclear arguments that may lack proper evidence or sources. Therefore, it’s vital to proofread your entire paper to avoid these mistakes. You may want to read your paper three times, each time looking for just one of the mentioned categories of mistakes. Also, try reading it out loud so that any errors you’ve made can be caught easily. After proofreading, take your paper to be read by someone else like your professor, another student, a friend, mentor, or family member and have them proofread it. Since everyone has unique ways of thinking and writing, someone else is far more likely to catch a mistake if something doesn’t look or sound right. Some colleges also have writing centres where graduate students will help you develop ideas for your paper and will help you proofread your essay.
Wrap It Up
Finally, conclude your paper. Try to avoid using the same words and information, as presented in your introduction. Instead, introduce new information and summarize the main points of the body of the essay. A reasonable conclusion should include all general or the most important information without diving too deep into the subject matter.
With all these tips at hand, you’re ready to write the perfect paper!