How to Write a Great College Essay

Writing guide
Posted on January 28, 2008

When you are starting to write a college essay, the first step is to plan your paper and determine what you are going to write about. How to write a college essay to get A+ grades? 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
  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 college essay, your plan will become more and more evident.

There are different thoughts on writing a college-level essay, and people have different ideas on how to write a college essay. Principally, writing a paper for college is not a significant problem if you have a natural flair for writing. College students often get confused in their first college life when they get instructions from teachers to write a college essay. The reason is straightforward, they have now no prior experience, and they don’t know how to write a college essay. Some simple steps may be of great use for the students if they follow these with an object-oriented mind.

Write your topic on the first page and divide it into subtopics. Sub-topics are main subheadings and related issues that may appear in your completed essay as a finished product. It will give you a fair idea of the main contents and thoughts involved. Now see what the quantity required for that specific essay is. The amount should be considered in a number of words, but not pages. A number of pages may change dramatically with a slight change in layout, font, borders, or theme of the project.

The next step is filling in the contents of your proposed or planned materials. Always start from the main content idea or title discussion, as it serves the purpose of an attention grabber for the reader. The more appropriate and impressive you prove here, the more marks you get from your teacher in the evaluation. Writing the main theme paragraph, in the beginning, is also a good idea as it serves the purpose of both attention grabber and idea demonstration. Whenever the problem occurs during writing, never hesitate to look around for more innovative approaches and examples. The environment itself guides you on how to write a college essay. Students’ discussions, teachers’ opinions, evaluators’ comments, and library resources; all can be good sources in writing a college essay.

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 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, to search 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 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. At college, you will learn one area of the study; therefore, your essay assignments will involve other disciplines learned during your education. Give heed to the points we have highlighted to handle college essay writing properly.

To complete a 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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