4 Common Struggles with Writing College Essays and How to Fix Them
Think you’re alone in struggling to write papers and essays for your college classes? Think again.
You might have been able to skate by in high school with less-than-fabulous writing skills, but in college, you’ll be writing papers and essays and research proposals all the time. No matter what your major (sorry, engineers!) you’ll have to write in just about every class you take. That’s why it’s important to pinpoint the areas of writing you struggle with and seek to fix them ASAP. Here are four of the most common struggles students face when writing for academic purposes and some tips for overcoming them.
Students say: “I can’t hit the word count.”
Teacher tip: Dive deeper into your subject matter.
If this is you, here are some tips on how to raise the number of words you’ve used in your paper. Find quotes from sources – but make sure to cite them in your bibliography. If there are experts, journalists or philosophers who have commented on your topic, find a great quote from them and then include it in your paper. Just make sure you cite your source (or else it’s plagiarism). Dive deeper into your material and start asking “why?” With more research into your topic, there’s a good chance you’ll find more information to include in your essay.
Students say: “I’m always going over the word count.”
Teacher tip: Learn to edit yourself.
Find yourself constantly struggling not to exceed the word count on your essays? Learn some strategies for editing and revising. The writing centers at your college or university can help with this. Having someone else read your essay and help point out redundancies (saying things more than once with the same meaning) and extra words and phrases you don’t need or that can be combined is very helpful. If you don’t have time to go to the Writing Center, an online tutoring service like SolutionInn can pair you up with a tutor who can help you edit and revise your writing.
Students say: “I can’t seem to stay on-topic when I write.”
Teacher tip: Ask yourself, “Does each sentence answer the prompt?”
Straying from the topic you’ve been given can lead to dangerous territory and loss of points for your essay. Stay on topic by asking yourself after every sentence, “Does this sentence help answer the question I’ve been given?” If not, delete the sentence. It also helps to spend a few minutes organizing your essay in an outline before you start writing. Make sure every paragraph points back to your thesis statement – the sentence that sums up the essence of your essay. Your conclusion should also reiterate your thesis statement and should sum up all the points you brought up in your body paragraphs.
Students say: “I’m clueless about grammar.”
Teacher tip: Have a friend read your essay before you submit it.
We all have that one friend we’d ask for help in English class. Keep in touch with that friend via social media, or if you go to the same college now, maintain regular coffee dates. This friend, more than likely, appreciates being known as a good writer and will be more than happy to help you learn the ins and outs of comma placement and when to use a semi-colon properly. If you don’t have one of those friends handy, SolutionInn has a list of grammar experts that can help you figure out where the weaknesses are in your essays and help you fix them.
Another tip: Read. Published books have been proofread and revised countless times. Look for an example of the grammar you’re struggling with in a book and then follow the example they’ve set for you.