14 Strategies for Writing Better College Papers
Learning how to write solid college papers is literally half the battle with most majors. In this 3-minute article we’ve broken down the 14 most effective strategies involved. Breeze through each one and ingest them at your leisure.
1. Adjust Your Writing Attitude
No, writing doesn’t suck, but your attitude might. College writing is actually quite fun and engaging once you get into it. Make it easy on yourself and just settle into the papers as they come. Accept them. Commit to them.
2. Get Interested & Intrigued
Part of adjusting your attitude is getting personally invested and interested in the subject. The more involved you are the higher the quality in most cases. Your personality will come through. The things you learn will be genuine. The paper won’t feel forced. Get it?
3. Master the Craft of Outlining
Once swept away into the passion of writing (expression), it’s easy to get artsy and try to wing it. Don’t. Instead, make it a habitual practice to get an outline drawn up. Love them. Outlines are just structure to help your thoughts mold along certain parameters. Without them you can find yourself either a) mid-paper and at a dead end, or b) mid-paper and completely off the radar.
4. Get a Second Opinion
Show your initial outlines and drafts to other people. If your friends and family aren’t interested, then find people who are. Or, pay someone a couple bucks. It’s worth it. A second pair of eyes can tell you things that are simply invisible to you as the writer.
5. Begin Writing Sooner rather than Later
Even if the paper isn’t due for three months, be engaged and working on it from day one. However, don’t try to turn it in super early. There’s no real benefit to doing so other than saving mental space perhaps. Otherwise just take all the time you have and relax. Craft something amazing because you’ve got plenty of time.
6. Visit a Writing Center Once in a While
Yeah, really! Grab your outline/draft and head over to the writing center. See what kinds of things they say. Critiques are worth their weight in proverbial gold. They’ll help you edit/polish as well as nail down your thesis. Plus, they know everything about all the small formatting details (more on this in a moment).
7. Don’t Freaking Plagiarize!
It’s so tempting! Yes, you can definitely use quotes and cite small supportive paragraphs from relevant sources but there’s a limit. Now, aside from that it’s also quite tempting to try and just copy/paste someone else’s thinking…don’t do it. Professors these days have many tools at their disposal to find duplicate content.
8. Let Your Thesis Evolve
By beginning the writing process as early as possible you give it lots of time to naturally evolve or settle on the primary thesis you’re searching for. Go with the flow, but stick to deadlines. Give your thesis room to breathe. Don’t stay so narrowed in focus/perspective that you end up with a narrow paper (something most professors are likely to dock you on).
9. Start Thinking & Analyzing like a Professor
Speaking of professors, look at your thesis statement, outline and drafts like a professor would. If you aren’t sure what your professor will say, then show it to them! Throughout the process try to step into their shoes and critique yourself. It helps. It’s a sobering practice.
10: Spend Serious Time on Formatting
The writing center can really help here. All the many formatting details with citing courses, subtitles, adding graphs/charts, etc. can be daunting at first. Instead of wasting tons of time doing it yourself, get some help until it becomes like second nature. Little errors add up fast!
11. Be Creatively Risky
In essence college really isn’t a time to strictly follow the rules and conform. Don’t be afraid to test professors and truly express yourself. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules a little as long as it doesn’t have to do with the technicalities. Like, as long as your paper is well-written, though out, formatted correctly and clear, it’s going to be hard for a professor to dock you even if you went a little left field.
12. Let Information Marinate
Never underestimate the power of absorbing ideas/concepts and then letting it marinate in your mind or subconscious where ideas form. Let it sit and settle. Let the information coagulate and mold together naturally. Don’t force writing. Follow your gut instincts here.
13. Learn to Take Thorough Notes
If you ditch class and skimp on notes it will translate into more hours researching. Take proper notes with your paper in mind.
14. Don’t Forget to Think Critically
This is serious business and seriously lacking in America today. Be objective as possible, and then color that cold data with your subjective self. Get it? Be critical. Think critically. Deduce things critically.
Okay all you aspiring and accomplished college paper writers out there, how do you do it? Share your wisdom!