- Some essays in school require academic sources. These can sometimes be tricky to pick out because not everything is considered academic. For help in this area, you can refer to L. Lennie Irvin’s piece, “What Is ‘Academic’ Writing?” where he eases the student’s fear of the unknown and guides them to understand what academic writing is, how to pick it out, and discusses the benefits of using academic writing. 
- Conventions are methods used in writing to enhance the product and make it more readable and understandable. They also determine what category or genre the piece belongs in. Types of conventions include but are not limited to mechanics, format, sentence structure, and word usage. So consider the following questions as well: What genre is the work and what conventions are used? Why did the author pick that genre and include those specific conventions?
- Reading Mike Bunn’s “How to Read Like a Writer” will help you understand how this can be done. He discusses in his piece how to notice decisions the author makes and the conventions used in their work so you can make similar decisions in your own.
Take your stance and form your argument. While researching and your argument is forming, mark pieces of evidence in the research that could be useful pieces of evidence for your paper. Don’t be afraid to mark more than you need because it’ll give you more options later on when you finalize what evidence you’re using.
Free write. This is a part of brainstorming. At this point, a million different ideas and connections are forming in your head and it is important to get them all out. Don't pay attention to the format or flow. In fact, use a pen to keep yourself from erasing anything because everything that comes out is important. Just write and write for ten minutes straight and get everything in your head on paper. Later, you will shift through it all and pick out the most important points that fit together the best.
Construct your thesis. Synthesize your main points and argument of the paper into a coherent sentence or two. This doesn’t need to be permanent and is subject to change. It will serve as a guideline for the paper in the time being. Incorporate it into the introduction and when the essay is complete, it will inform the reader what you are writing about and what you are arguing.
- Go back through the evidence you marked earlier or flip through your research again to find additional evidence if it does not sufficiently back up your claims. After this is complete and your outline logically flows, you are ready to begin writing!
Write your introduction. Compose your introduction that starts with a hook to capture the reader’s attention. In the paragraph, include your sources, thesis, and a “road map” for your essay. The “road map” is to give the reader a sense of where you are taking the subject and how you are going to prove your point without specifically stating, “First, I will talk about this. Then, about that”, etc.
- Also, incorporate your evidence into appropriate places and ensure they flow. Evidence can be used in a quote but don’t forget that you can paraphrase too. Change it up so your essay doesn’t seem repetitive and make sure to use each of your sources equally.
Form your conclusion. Tie together your essay with a final conclusion of your argument. Give your reader something to walk away with after reading your essay. For example, have a call to action, leave them pondering a question or with something memorable, or maybe you’ll even end up blowing the reader's minds with something they’ve never thought of or considered. Just make sure they don’t finish your essay thinking “so what?” or “what was the point?”.
Cite your sources. Cite your sources in the appropriate format. Don’t forget this step- no plagiarizing! If you have any questions on citations, you can refer to Diana Hacker's "A Pocket Style Manual" which provide a plethora of information on citations, grammar, and formatting.
- If you have a peer to revise with, trading with them and getting their opinion can be very helpful. If there are multiple people to trade with, go for it! The more opinions the better. Then you can pick and choose what revisions you agree with. You can repeat this step a few times by stepping away from it and coming back to ensure you caught all your mistakes.
Take time to reflect. Reflect on your writing, the process of how you completed it, and how you feel about your work. This process identifies the positives and the negatives of the paper, which could help improve it. Write down what you consider to be the downfalls of your paper and you can even go back to the revision stage and fix these once they are identified.
Done! When you are satisfied with your paper and you have fixed everything that you possibly can, you have completed your essay!
Learning how to write a college paper quickly and easily seems to be an elusive art for most college students.
But it doesn’t have to be. In this article you will learn the first steps to take to finally understanding how to write that essay .
Let’s start with WHY it is so important to learn how to write a college paper. Well, submitting dozens, if not a hundred or more papers throughout your college career is inescapable if you want that degree. Unfortunately, many students resort to hiring a ghost writer – sometimes for a hefty fee.
But is the risk of doing so worth it? Did you know that you could be expelled from your college just for being caught once? And colleges do it because this practice is real plagiarism, no matter how much those writing services will try to convince you that their essays are “plagiarism-free.”
But that is the negative side. Here’s the positive side of how to write a college paper. If you DO learn how to write a college paper yourself, not only will you be empowered but you will open many more doors while attending your college without even knowing it. When I was in college, whenever I needed a letter of recommendation from one of my professors, I always approached a professor for whom I had written a good paper previously. A person who knows your writing knows your level of intellect and will happily give you a recommendation.
And this is so important in today’s world of employment market volatility. Think about it. Too many students out there will be hiring ghost writers because they don’t know how to write a college paper. But YOU will stand out from the crowd simply by expressing your ideas clearly and with conviction. Thus, your writing skill as well and knowing how to write a college paper can give you a chance not only to excel academically, but to succeed professionally as well, because you will go to the same professors for letters of recommendation when applying for your dream job.
So, how do you begin to learn how to write a college paper?
Let me give you a simple, three-step formula on how to write a college paper that will get you started. Here are the steps:
Step 1 – Choose your topic and take a stand.
Step 2 – Write your thesis statement
Step 3 – Write the body of the essay
If you learn how to complete these steps, then you may confidently say that you know how to write a college paper.
Let’s look at these steps to learning how to write a college paper in detail.
Step 1. Choose a topic and take a stand.
Choosing a topic when you learn how to write a college paper seems pretty clear but what is taking a stand? The topic is really WHAT you’re writing about. For example, if you are writing about ‘College Life,’ then college life is your topic. However, you will also need to take a stand and decide what exactly you are trying to say about college life. In learning how to write a college paper, this is the vital step.
Now, I know that this sounds pretty basic but, believe it or not, most college writers never really complete this step. In other words, they kind of try to get away without deciding on the main point. But being able to create a crystal clear main point is critical in learning how to write a college paper.
So, what stand can you take about ‘College Life?’ You could say that it Rocks. Or that it Stinks. But you must decide. Now, a word of warning here. I know that it sounds limiting to have such a narrow view of something – that it is either totally great or totally bad. But when you are just beginning to learn how to write a college paper you should always put a definite plus or a minus sign on your subject. It’s just much easier to do it this way as you learn how to write a college paper.
Step 2. Write your thesis statement. Once you take a stand, this step becomes really easy.
The first sentence of your thesis statement should simply be the stand that you just took, i.e. “College life rocks.” And now, to make the thesis statement complete, you should give several reasons why you believe this is true. Let’s take the logical number three and provide three reasons. (In teaching my students how to write a college paper, I call this the Power of Three.)
And this is what we have as a result:
“College life rocks. First, classes are more interesting. Second, professors are fun. And finally, extracurricular activities abound.”
This would be a perfect thesis statement, if excessively simplified. But when you are just starting to learn how to write a college paper, stick to simplicity. Later, you’ll be able to write far more complex and interesting papers.
Step 3. Write the body of the essay.
If you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 well, then this step should be infinitely easier than ever in your past experience. And this is because now that you have a complete thesis statement, you already have the outline of your entire paper. This is one of my secrets in teaching how to write a college paper. In the body of the essay, you will provide evidence – point by point – that college life rocks because of college classes, professors, and extracurricular activities – in that order.
In the future articles we’ll take a closer look at each step and examine specific examples of how this process works.
For now, this short overview will get you started on learning how to write a college paper.
Philip Saparov is an e-learning professional at TutorPhil.com and StopEssayPain.com He teaches college students all over the world how to achieve academic success and enjoy the process. His expertise ranges from writing research papers and reading difficult texts to achieving higher levels of confidence in the academic setting. At his site, StopEssayPain.com you can find out more about how to write a college paper.