Essays in University are significantly different compared to high school, there’s no denying it. While I’m only in my second year at Ryerson, I’ve already written loads of papers and have been able to pick up on a few essential steps to producing a successful essay. So listen up, because these are often things we students forget about!!!
1. Ask for clear directions from your prof
Most profs purposefully assign broad essay topics are provide vague instructions so that it can be open to students’ interpretation. They like it when you use your own judgement and intuition to construct your own narrower topic because it shows that you’ve applied critical reasoning. This becomes easier once you’ve gotten the hang of writing a university essay, but in the beginning it’s harder to know exactly what your prof wants from your essay, as many of them expect different things. It’s crucial to ask questions in class or visit office hours – you’ll be able to clarify any confusion and know exactly what you have to do to get the mark you want.
2. Look to your TA for support
During the writing process, it can be incredibly useful to get feedback from your TA. Some will be able to help more than others, but you’ll get a better idea of where you might be going wrong or what you need to do to focus your essay and make it stronger. Also, your TA is usually the one marking them, so getting more information will allow you to craft a final-product that caters exactly to the intended audience.
3. Leave plenty of time for research
As painful as research can be sometimes, it’s one of the most important parts of any essay. If you’re forming an argument on a complex issue or providing information on an unfamiliar topic, the research aspect of your paper will influence how you form your arguments depending on how knowledgeable you are about a topic. This was a big challenge for me to get used to, as I usually tended to work off what I already knew then incorporate the research later. But let me tell you, there’s no better way to ensure you present your arguments with credibility and elegance by being able to develop an in depth understanding of a subject before beginning the writing process. Once you master a topic, there’s no stopping you!
4. Analyze, analyze, analyze…
Here’s a secret: Profs love a good analysis. Analyzing your points, explaining their significance, bringing them into the real world, answering the question: so what? makes a huge difference in your grade. It’s not enough to just present the material and explain what it means. Your entire essay should entice the reader by constantly reminding them of why this is an important and relevant topic that they should pay attention to. This can easily be done by bringing in your own thoughts on the subject, why you choose it, and why it matters!
5. Use the rubric as a checklist
This trick has saved me on numerous occasions. Once you’ve finished writing and editing your essay, it’s extremely useful to go over the rubric and pretend your marking the paper to pick up on anything you might’ve missed. Does it fulfill all the criteria? It could be something as simple as forgetting the required number of sources or tweaking minor issues. But trust me, you’ll be glad you went over all the possible ways to improve your essay before sending it off and hoping for the best!
Hope this helps! Remember, *high school musical voice* we’re all in this together.