First Major College Essay

It's just about a month into the school year now and I have finally been assigned my first real, major college paper! When my teacher handed out the essay description and requirements, I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing for a minute. The essay is for my Human Event class, which focuses on expanding global, cultural, and historical awareness through the exploration of classic literature. So far, our readings have ranged from the Enuma Elish to excerpts from the Hebrew Bible to Sappho. The class has actually been really interesting and, despite my nerves, I'm excited to see how my essay turns out. Here are just a few tips if you find yourself having trouble with an essay:

Reread the Material // As common sense as this may seem, a lot of people don't actually take the time to reread what they are trying to write about. Sometimes you skim the literature because you don't have time to read deeply into it and you have a quiz first thing when class starts. This is the same situation as when you re-watch movies and notice new details. Rereading the material is a crucial part of furthering your understanding of the text and in helping you write the best paper possible.

Don't Immediately Start Writing // Brainstorm! Write every single crazy idea in your head down, but don't start writing the full paper just yet. Jot down sentence fragments and phrases that your brain puts together, even if you think you probably won't use them - it is always a good idea to start off with a wide range of ideas before finding the avenue you would rather pursue. The best ideas are ones that you can really develop and write almost passionately about, but that does not typically happen immediately. Read some background resources and take a small break before going back and trying to work.

Find a Happy Place // We all have our different little quirks about studying. On your bed or on the floor? In the living room or at the kitchen table? Music blasting or complete silence? Finding the place where you believe you can relax and be the most productive is extremely important. But, be careful! Beds are wonderful, comfy, and one of my favorite places to be, but sometimes I can't let myself study on one or else I may just be falling asleep before I'm done!

Use Your Resources // As annoying as it gets when everybody (including your mother) says to make yourself familiar with the different resources at your disposal, you have to admit they may be a little right. If you have trouble writing essays, you should talk to your academic counselor about the tutoring resources your school offers. Not everybody was taught the same way in high school, making adjustments harder for some people. Don't be afraid to ask for help! It's a lot easier to ask for and receive help when there is plenty of time for improvement without the ultimate suffering of your grade.

What sorts of things do you do when you have a big paper coming up? 

Catch you next time


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