10 Ways to Improve Your College Writing Skills
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Many students begin college unprepared for and overwhelmed by the high standard of writing that professors immediately expect from them. Improving your college writing skills is one of the best ways to decrease your stress and improve your grades in college. These 10 tips will help you focus on how to communicate your ideas in a way that professors will understand, appreciate and commend. I hope this writing advice will serve you throughout your college career and beyond.
- Focus on the topic. Wordy, meandering treatises that address the topic only tangentially or fail to incorporate the suggested materials are unlikely to impress professors at the university level. The ability to focus directly on the specific topic is one of the most important college writing skills you will need to master and it will help you achieve better grades.
- Sum it up. Most writing assignments can be significantly improved by including a short introductory paragraph identifying the issues to be discussed and a conclusion that provides a summary of the arguments and topics contained in the paper.
- Silence is golden. For many students, finding a quiet area in which to complete assignments can significantly improve the quality of their final papers. Distractions like loud music and loud roommates can prove damaging even to students with outstanding college writing skills. It is advisable to avoid these distractions by retreating to the library or another quiet spot to complete writing assignments more quickly and professionally.
- Play to the audience. If the professor has expressed a strong opinion on the topic contained in the assignment, it is usually a good idea to at least pay lip service to that opinion when writing the paper.
For students who do take a dissenting position, it is necessary to support that position with evidence and facts in order to avoid being marked down at grading time.
- Budget your time. Even students with exceptional college writing skills need a certain amount of time to collect their thoughts and compose their papers. Avoid the last minute rush to complete assignments by budgeting enough time for researching, writing and proofreading the paper in advance of its due date.
- Get a second opinion. Roommates, friends and other professors can often lend a helping hand in proofreading and editing a paper for maximum effectiveness before it is submitted. This can improve the quality of the paper and the consequent grade it is awarded. Of course, you can also hire an academic proofreading service to review your most important papers.
- Research is fundamental. The ability to research and create a bibliography for an assignment is one of the most vital college writing skills. For students who are unsure about where to begin, the university library typically can provide resources and reference librarians are often happy to help students who are beginning research projects.
- Use a style guide. Many university professors require that submitted papers adhere to one of the established style guides. Strunk and White’sThe Elements of Styleis a popular choice, as isThe MLA Style Manual . By identifying and following the rules in a style guide, students can improve their overall writing skills and achieve better grades on writing assignments.
- The length of a paper matters. While most professors will not decrease one’s grade for exceeding the recommended length, producing the bare minimum length may result in a lower grade.
- Practice, practice, practice. By honing and polishing college writing skills with constant practice, students can better prepare themselves for the requirements of life after graduation and ensure that they can communicate their ideas effectively and concisely in the business and academic worlds.