Essay Writing Tips – How to Write College Essays and Term Papers

Knowing how to write college essays and term papers can make the difference between passing and failing a college course! These essay writing tips sprout from years of writing practice, and they’re kicked off by a publication coach.

Before the tips, a quip:

“A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.” ~ Virginia Woolf.

Drawing a curtain ‘round you and your readers takes years of writing practice, so don’t feel overwhelmed at the thought! Woolf was a brilliant writer. The rest of us can only hope to write essays that bring up our course grades (or make a living as a writer 🙂 ). If you’re a college student who struggles with writing, you’ll find How to Write Better Essays helpful.

And, here are five ways to write better essays…

Essay Writing Tips – How to Write College Essays and Term Papers

1. Make a schedule for research, writing, and editing. “When you get an assignment — whether for school, your boss or a client — immediately write down a realistic assessment of how long it’s going to take,” says Daphne Gray-Grant in 5 Essential Tips for Better Writing. “Don’t think “oh that’s not due for three weeks — I can plan later.” Do it right away. Furthermore, don’t just think about your plan — write it down. This is important for two reasons: (1) it increases your commitment, (2) it gives you a track record against which you can measure your performance — useful for future planning. Being realistic is also extremely important.” Are you a perfectionist? Research shows that perfectionists seriously underestimate the amount of time it takes to do anything. (For help, read 4 Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism for Writers!).

2. Connect the dots in your writing (use clear, effective transitions). College essays and term papers need clear transitions from one thought to another. For instance, I often struggle with the opening paragraphs of my “Quips and Tips” articles, which contain four main elements. I want to introduce the idea (and hook readers!), include a writing quip, feature a book about writing, and then flow into the main tips-based article. Oh yeah, and I need to incorporate Search Engine Optimization so readers like you find my articles! But mainly, I need to connect – or transition – my four beginning elements with clearly connected thoughts and words. These logical transitions in writing eliminate choppy, disjointed writing — which can be a problem for college students. 

3. Confused about a topic or research method? Talk to your professor ASAP. Professors — no matter how busy they are — are paid to teach college students. Don’t hesitate to ask your prof or TA (Teacher’s Assistant) for help if you’re uncertain about writing your essay, choosing a topic, or doing the research. Even if you don’t know what questions to ask, talk to your professor. He or she may be able to help you figure out why you’re struggling. And, who better to get essay writing tips from than the person who will actually grades it?

4. Get a second (and third) set of eyes. You don’t need to hire a professional editor to help you learn how to write college essays and term papers! Write your essay early, and trade papers with a fellow student. Help each other write better essays. You might hesitate if you’re graded on a curve (after all, you want better grades than your classmates, right?) — but trust me, you’ll learn more about writing and teamwork in the long run if you help each other write better. When other students read your essay or term paper, they’ll find the typos, illogical transitions, and grammatical errors you overlooked. You’ll write a better essay if you have editing help.

5. Analyze writing that works. When you read something that strikes you as a fine piece of writing, read it again. This time, ask yourself these questions and take notes:

  • What caught your attention about the writing?
  • What does the writer do that you don’t?
  • Would you have written the introduction or conclusion differently? 
  • Would you have added or eliminated anything from the middle section?

I know how busy college students are – they don’t usually have time to study stuff that’s not part of the coursework! But, one of the best essay writing tips I can offer is to train yourself to recognize bad writing. This will not only help you write better, it’ll help you edit and revise your essays and term papers.

If you have specific questions about how to write college essays and term papers, please ask below! And if you have essay writing tips to share, I’d love to hear from you…

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1 thought on “Essay Writing Tips – How to Write College Essays and Term Papers”

  1. With college papers, the number of pages is not as important as the argument that you wish to convey to your readers. Remember that your professor has to check many papers and it is important to catch his/her attention by presenting an interesting term paper. Stay on topic and focus on the key points that you wish to emphasize.