Taming Essay Writing in College: 9 Writing Tips for Freshmen. Quiz Inside

essay writing

College is a unique opportunity for you as a student to explore your interests, develop your skills, discover your talents, and enjoy new experiences. However, this period also requires you to learn a lot and demonstrate that knowledge. Teachers assign essays so that you can demonstrate your writing skills, show what you know about a subject, and express your thoughts on it. 

If you’re about to write a college essay and you’re having trouble understanding how the final version should look – don’t worry: this post will make the writing process much easier for you. We’ll give you some writing tips to help you get the “A.”

Quiz: Are you Ready to Start Writing Your First Essay In College?

This quiz goes beyond the basics to evaluate your understanding of more intricate aspects of academic writing. Whether you’re an essay enthusiast or an eager novice, this quiz promises to challenge your skills and offer you deeper insights. Now, let’s put your essay acumen to the test!


#1. Choose a Topic that Interests You

Of course, if your teacher gives you a specific topic, that’s what you need to write about. However, students are frequently given lists of topics to choose from. When this happens, it’s an excellent chance for you to select something that makes you feel passionate and inspired: these feelings will help you write an essay that will really show off your writing skills and knowledge of the topic. 

For example, perhaps you’re interested in psychology. Writing an essay on “practical techniques to manage stress and prevent anxiety while learning” will probably be more up your alley, than, say, “an essay about stagflation.” That said, whatever the topic, try not to be intimidated. If a specific theme seems complicated initially, the more time you spend researching it, the more likely it is that you’ll find something that you understand and can write about (well, in most cases).

9 Essay Writing Tips for Freshmen

#2. Write a Draft

There is no need to start writing an essay immediately after getting the topic. You can divide the process into manageable parts and create a structured schedule that includes the most critical components, such as brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and proofreading. This approach will make the essay writing process more comfortable, less stressful, and more manageable. Start this process by determining the ideas you want to discuss in your paper. You can brainstorm some ideas for things that you might want to explore in your writing and choose the best ones. 

Creating several drafts will enable you to analyze the topic from multiple perspectives, allowing you to choose how to perfectly demonstrate your opinion on the theme you wish to explore. Don’t attempt to discuss everything related to your topic. Aim for something manageable. Choose and discuss a few critical points in detail to make your essay smooth and cohesive.

#3. Develop an Informative Introduction

Many students struggle to understand how to start an essay correctly. The introduction can play a critical role in the paper because it can help readers understand what you are going to discuss with your writing. If you write a good hook, you attract your readers’ attention with the first sentence and cause them to read further. The hook makes an introduction more engaging and intriguing.

For example, imagine an essay starting with this hook: “Oscar Wilde stated, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Individuals’ failures enable them to become professionals in multiple spheres because this experience helps them improve their awareness and skills, positively influencing their future decisions and actions.” Hooks make your writing more engaging and tell readers what you’re going to be writing about. A college essay’s introduction should usually also contain a strong thesis statement that demonstrates your main idea. 

The thesis statement is the last sentence of your introduction that highlights the direction of your argument and helps readers better understand your essay. 

For instance, if you write about practical measures to manage stress throughout the learning process, the following thesis statement could be appropriate: “Many students face stress when learning and attempting to achieve their academic goals. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, a healthy diet, and the establishment of realistic objectives are the best methods for managing stress throughout the learning process.” 

This sentence highlights the topic and the most critical points you are going to discuss in the paper.

#4. Write Logical Body Paragraphs

Generally, high school essays consist of 5 paragraphs. These 5 parts of an essay include an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, college essays are frequently longer and require students to explore an issue more deeply, so 3 body paragraphs may not be enough. Write your body paragraphs based on the points you want to explore: analyzing one critical idea per paragraph is good. 

Using the previous example as the thesis statement, the body paragraphs could then separately discuss the reasons for stress during the learning process, the importance of regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy food, and the establishment of realistic objectives. Taking this approach will make your essay more logical, cohesive, and comprehensive.

Your body paragraphs should also demonstrate your opinion regarding the topic you are exploring. 

Determining a clear position and supporting your ideas with compelling evidence, logical reasoning, and persuasive techniques will help you persuade your reader to follow your viewpoint. 

You can bring up counterarguments in your essay to show your open-mindedness and readiness to debate the discussed issue. Still, it’s vital to demonstrate your opinion regarding these counterarguments and explain why they aren’t relevant to make you change your viewpoint. 

#5. Remember the Conclusion

The conclusion is an invaluable part of your essay since it sums up all the points you’ve explored. The first sentence of the last paragraph can be used to restate your thesis statement in different words, while other sentences can summarize the most critical ideas. The final section helps readers look back at and consolidate what you’ve said.

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#6. Use Transition Words

Although high school teachers sometimes avoid concentrating on transitions while checking students’ papers, transition words profoundly influence the quality of college writing. If you want to write an essay that meets academic standards and receives a high score for your efforts, using transition words in your paper sometimes helps. Writing them in every sentence is unnecessary since it’ll make your essay not only difficult to understand but also silly. Still, use them in the parts where they both make sense and make your writing smoother. 

For example, if you need to add specific details or make your reader focus on particular points, you can use the following connecting words:

  • Moreover
  • In addition
  • Likewise
  • Furthermore
  • Additionally
  • Firstly
  • Secondly
  • Thirdly
  • Finally

Specific transitions help you demonstrate the opposite opinion or analyze potential counterarguments:

  • Although
  • However
  • On the contrary
  • Nevertheless
  • On the other hand

If you need to highlight the importance of a specific idea, have a look at the following transition words that demonstrate the significance of the next part

  • Importantly
  • Notably
  • Undoubtedly
  • Above all
  • Certainly

College essays frequently require students to provide examples to support their viewpoints. The following two transitions can be helpful in these cases:

  • For example
  • For instance

It’s important to summarize your ideas at the end of paragraphs and at the end of the essay, and the following transition words can also be useful:

  • In conclusion
  • As a result
  • Therefore
  • Thus
  • Hence
  • Consequently
  • In short
  • To sum up

Your essay’s coherence considerably depends on transitional phrases since they serve as “signposts” that enable your reader to monitor the progression of your argument and ensure a logical flow between points. 

Therefore, using transition words properly will make your writing more interesting and understandable, allowing readers to follow your train of thought.

#7. Don’t Forget to Cite Credible Sources

A college essay is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and awareness of specific issues. However, you need credible and reliable sources to support your ideas and show that you have conducted extensive research and explored various opinions to make your own conclusions. Notably, if a source is published by an authoritative and reputable institution and authored by an author with clear credentials, this source can be recognized as credible and relevant.

To arrange proper referencing, use our Free Citation Generator

You can use paraphrasing and direct quotations to incorporate a source’s statements into your essay. Paraphrasing means restating the information you have found in a specific source in your own words, while direct quoting requires you to use the source’s original wording written in quotation marks. Many students believe citing sources is unnecessary when paraphrasing the ideas obtained from sources and hope that these parts will not be highlighted as plagiarized. However, it’s essential to cite all sources, no matter if you use paraphrasing or direct quoting, because you borrow other experts’ ideas, while the absence of in-text citation can cause plagiarism. Plagiarism is strictly prohibited and punished in most colleges and universities, so thoroughly check whether you have cited your sources to prevent unnecessary problems.

#8. Follow the Requirements and Format Properly

You can write an excellent essay that discusses all critical points related to your topic, but a lack of proper formatting will lower your final grade. Most teachers expect students to follow strict formatting rules, aiming to teach them how to write an essay academically and organize their thoughts and write correctly. 

The most widespread formats modern students use to write their essays include MLA and APA. The title page is the primary difference between these formats: MLA format lacks a title page and only requires students to provide the necessary information, such as a student’s name, instructor’s name, course, and date, at the top left corner, while APA includes the title page that includes student’s full name, institutional affiliation, course full title, instructor’s full name, and due date. 

Notably, an APA-style paper has a running head; the phrase “Running head” should be included only on the title page before the truncated version of the title

There are other minor differences between these formats. For example, when you cite the source in MLA format, you need to specify the author’s last name and the number of the page in parentheses at the end of the sentence (White 53), while APA formatting requires you to include the author’s last name and the year of publication (White, 2023). If you use direct quoting in APA format, specify the number of the page in parentheses as well (White, 2023, p. 53).

Always consider the specific requirements and guidelines your teacher provides. Follow the word count standards and the format requirements and thoroughly check whether you have considered all critical points before submitting your paper.

#9. Proofread Your Essay

The proofreading stage is one of the most crucial parts of essay writing since it allows you to analyze your essay from your reader’s perspective and determine whether all points are clear and logical for people who see this paper for the first time. The proofreading process includes checking the coherence and logic of your argument, clarity of language, and consistency of style and formatting; checking your grammar, punctuation, and spelling is an integral part of this stage. You might overlook particular mistakes while writing an essay, but proofreading will help you check your writing from another perspective, so don’t neglect this part to get the highest score for your paper.

Additionally, reading your essay aloud can be better since, for many people, it helps them to better hear the writing from the reader’s perspective. This process helps enable you to uncover passages that sound clumsy or illogical. You could also ask your family members or friends to read your essay and share their opinions. They may shed light on parts of your paper that should be changed or improved.

Just remember that experience is the best teacher. You may face challenges when writing your first essay, but the more you practice, the more experienced and proficient a writer you’ll become. Focus on the writing tips discussed above, and you will write a superb paper that’ll earn you the highest score. Good luck with your college essay!

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Jamie Clark
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Jaime is the professional writer at the Computer Science Department of CustomWritings.com. Since childhood, Jaime has been passionate about computers and all technical appliances. Besides computers, Jaime is curious about history, computer games, especially Dota.