The new rules: writing effective essays in the modern college A pragmatic approach that takes into account both student and institutional weaknesses.

Making the transition from high school to college is tough on most students. Modern high schools only provide you with the most rudimentary knowledge, and the sudden jump in difficulty is accompanied by a shipwrecking on a strange learning island with entirely new life circumstances and unexplored freedoms and challenges.

But for now, we’ll only deal with how to write effective essays that will get you ahead of the curve. This requires a pragmatic approach and going beyond all the already ample material on writing tips and citation styles. We take into account the dreaded P-word: politics.

So let’s get to our strategies on how to write stellar college essays and academic papers.

Understand the requirements

The biggest mistake you can ever make in college level writing is completing a paper without understanding what’s expected. Most assignments are designed to cover specific learning outcomes, and they may not always been stated outright. You have nevertheless been given some kind of project instructions; try breaking them into several parts for a clearer understanding.

Does the project require an argumentative essay or a lab report? Are you being asked to create a research paper? What is the required formatting and citation approach?

Is the topic touching on political or social issues? This is a clear warning sign of implied requirements — you may have been asked to demonstrate an understanding of the institutional beliefs, and show signs that you have fallen in line.

Understand your audience

Some institutions of learning appreciate an informal approach, while others want robotic adherence to established styles and guidelines. Discover on which end of the spectrum you have found yourself by asking around and having a look at earlier, already assessed, work.

Look up faculty members and research their extracurricular activities. This will allow you to tailor your message and argumentation appropriately. Will your essay ultimately be judged by an activist or political party member of some kind? It is an unfortunate reality that going against the ideological grain in an educational setting will put black marks and obstacles in your way that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

Play into preconceived notions no matter what you personally feel about it, and even consider adding some faculty politics where it otherwise wouldn’t be expected. Studies show that arguing against a deeply held political belief only causes adherents to double down and get hostile, so be on the side of pragmatic reality and make sure you come out the winner in the end.

When you understand your audience, you can write any form of paper — formal or informal — to maximum effect.

Create a reasonable schedule and stick to it

College gives you significant control over how you spend your time, which is probably why so many students wait until the last minute before getting started on their assignments. This results in rushing through the work and making (lots of) mistakes they otherwise wouldn’t have. Some students even rationalize procrastination with the idea that they work best under pressure.

That’s a terrible mistake, and the only way you’ll pull through with acceptable results is with urgent help from research paper services. Effective work requires planning, research, writing, and revising. You probably also have more than one assignment to work on.

Plan, then write

The idea of planning out an academic paper can be scary if you have no idea how and where to start. Of course, after reading your assignment prompt, the first thing should be creating your topic. In some instances, it will be assigned to you. When given permission to pick a subject on your own, make sure that your choice is interesting and narrow enough.

Next is the brainstorming session. If you are familiar with the subject, it is time to recall and note down everything you already know. This way, your research will be more directed and effective.

Create the outline

The outline is a roadmap that will guide the data collection and drafting. Use the ideas you created during brainstorming, as well as your preliminary research, to produce points and categories for your outline. You don’t have to worry about making this look nice — yet. Add and remove entries freely, and move them around to see what will make for a strong structure for your paper.

Of course, the structure will depend on the project type, and your outlining should reflect the expectations. For instance, essays are mostly written in prose, with an introduction, text body, and conclusion.

Whatever form your outline takes, there are specific things it accomplishes. First, it works as a measure of progress as you write. You will easily be able to remain on track and cover the topic as fully as possible. You are also able to focus on the goals you set for the assignment.

Cite credible sources

College-level writing is all about being able to mimic logical reasoning as defined by the institution’s philosophy. You will be expected to acknowledge and build upon the contributions of others to your field by using credible evidence and examples to support your work. This means researching authoritative sources that best conform to your college’s philosophy, and using the right citation styles to acknowledge works from others.

Not all information you find online can be used for a college paper. Who wrote it? What kind of political opinions have they shared on Twitter? You also have to distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and ideally combine both into a satisfying whole.

Draft first, edit later

You don’t have to start your paper with the introductory section. Instead, why not begin from the middle, and work on the main ideas before proceeding to a conclusion. You can then finish with a clear introduction that fully understands what it is introducing. Don’t bother perfecting your writing during the drafting phase. Leave that for editing!

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