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An Introduction to University Essays

October 23, 2015 - Posted to Writing

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The Introduction to Your College Essay

This blog post is mostly intended for students just beginning their college careers. It is meant to serve as a guideline for what they can expect in the essay assignments they receive in college, and how they can best get through even the toughest writing assignments. Students who read this piece will feel more confident when they receive their first essay or term paper writing assignments.

Dealing With New Expectations

Whether you have been taught to write an essay properly or not, your instructors will assume that you know how to do so. They will assume that you know the difference between a good resource and a bad resource. They will also assume that you know how to properly cite your sources without any coaching from them. You will also be expected to show much deeper knowledge and insight into your essay topics than you were when you were in high school. In many cases, you will also deal with more stringent requirements when it comes to spelling and grammar errors, and assignment due dates. Don't worry, there are ways to successfully deal with these new expectations. First, find a great app, such as Evernote for taking notes, writing, and managing assignments. Then, invest in a decent, third party, spelling and grammar check app. You will find that this will help with the quality of your essays immensely.

Proving Insight Not Simple Mastery

In high school, your writing assignments are mostly designed to show your instructor that you have read the material and have memorized the important information contained within. This is not the case in most college classes. College professors expect more than that. It isn't enough to simply write an essay that regurgitates back what is in your textbook or found in other sources. Your writing must show insight. It must demonstrate that you can take information, analyze it, draw conclusions, and relate concepts to one another. Here's an example. In high school, you might write that neighborhoods with failing schools have a higher rate of crime. That's a simple fact that you can find in any one of dozens of articles and studies. Repeating this fact as it is reported is accurate, but it provides no insight. On the other hand, if you wrote about neighborhoods with failing schools and were able to draw a relationship between failing schools and unfair distribution of property tax funds to schools, that would be presenting a fact along with your own insight. Another thing to remember is this, it isn't always verboten to offer your own opinion in your essays.

The Importance of Great Sources and Proper Research

This bears repeating; Wikipedia is not an acceptable source. Biased blogs that do  not link to original source material also not acceptable sources. Googling your topic and then cherry picking the sources that support your thesis is not conducting proper research. The requirements for writing a convincing essay are not the same as the requirements for winning an argument on Facebook. If you learn nothing else in college, please learn to conduct research using scholarly articles, and to vet out your sources.

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