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How to Write a Great College Essay

When you are starting to write an essay the first step is to plan your paper and determine what you are going to write about. All writers have trouble getting started. The best way to start writing your essay is to begin planning.

Inexperienced writers define planning as essentially a thinking activity. Being one of them, you most probably start with planning inside your head what you want to say, and then you copy your thoughts onto a piece of paper. Unfortunately, as you will discover, such planning usually produces two kinds of failure: (1) you cannot think through everything you want to say before you write, and (2) you cannot just transfer your thinking to writing.

In fact, planning is primarily a writing activity, as most experienced writers can testify. Although they admit that they do some planning before they write, they insist that they do their most productive plan after they have begun writing. For them, planning is not so much thinking and writing as it is thinking-in-writing. Try this on your own. Start to write your plan and don’t be afraid of any changes. When you write your essay, your plan will become more and more evident.

It would be the plan for your second draft. By making several drafts, you will come up with a good and thought-out project that will form a meaning to your readers in your essay. As the first stage in the writing process, planning helps you uncover, explore, and evaluate a topic for your essay. Whether you are assigned a topic by your teacher or are free to accept any topic that occurs to you, planning helps you locate and produce information in writing.

The sources of your information in the essay are the following:

  • Your memory. Your past is one of your best sources of information. Since childhood you have been accumulating memories about people, places, and things; about growing up, falling, leaving home, staying put — the endless. These memories often pop into your head when you least expect them. When you begin to write an essay, however, you cannot remember on impulse. You must forget on purpose, searching your past for information you may want to use. Select a prompt — a word, an image, or a question — to unlock your memory and focus your attention.
  • Your observation. Like most people, you spend much of your life as a casual observer, acknowledging but rarely examining the blur of daily experience. You have learned to look for the things you must see — the assignment on the syllabus, the stop sign at the intersection. But for the most part, you look through the world the way you look through a magazine, flipping pages without any particular purpose. When you begin to write your essay, you must train yourself to look for interesting subjects, significant features, and telling details to help you compose vivid verbal pictures.
  • Something you learned through someone else or research. To broaden and deepen your understanding, you must reach beyond the limits of your personal experience to determine how others have perceived your subject. For this purpose, you should research the information on your essay topic, which is already available. Other writers have studied almost any subject you choose. Sometimes their research reflects and reinforces your view of the subject. More often it enlarges, confuses, or even contradicts your conclusions. There are two common ways of gathering information before writing an essay. It is conducting the interview or reading.

Many of your writing assignments will not get a grade at all. While in the High school you received extra credit assignments that could raise your class, in college these additional credit papers not applied to your grade. Such projects are only your interest and efforts. In College you will learn one area of the study; therefore your essay assignments will involve other disciplines learned during your education.

To complete successful college essay you should:

  1. Apply Critical Thinking process
  2. Be good researcher
  3. Be good writer
  4. Know the material
  5. Think creatively
  6. Manage your time wisely
  7. Return your essay on time

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