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How To Make Your College Essay Shine

If you’re in college, you will probably become very familiar with essay assignments. Many students dread having to write essays because they have a fear that they cannot write effectively. While writing talent varies widely, all but the most willfully ignorant instructors understand this, and they want you to succeed at college essay writing, even if writing does not come natural to you.

The most important thing you can do to ensure a high mark on a college essay is to follow your instructor’s directions. He or she will most likely tell you how long an essay should be, give you a selection of topics to choose from, and may in fact assign you a topic. Your instructor will also tell you other important things about your essay, such as whether it should be written in first person or third person. Know what your instructor is looking for, and you’re well on your way to success.

If you are assigned to create an outline for your essay, do so, and do it according to instructions. But if you’re not assigned to make an outline, make one anyway. It will only take a few minutes and will save time by helping you keep your focus on the topic. Your outline can be a simple numbered list of the sub-topics you want to cover, along with an introduction and conclusion.

Most instructors want you to write your introduction in an “inverted triangle” style. This just means that you start out with a more general statement and work your way toward a narrow statement. The narrow statement is your thesis statement, a sentence at the end of your introduction where you briefly spell out the points covered in your essay.

After your introduction, write one paragraph for each of the points listed on your outline. Follow your instructor’s guidelines on how long each paragraph should be. If you have no guidance, try to make each paragraph 100 to 150 words long.

Once you have written a paragraph for each point, write your concluding paragraph. It should be in “triangle” format, where you start with a recap of your thesis statement and work your way toward a more broad, concluding statement.

Never try to pass off another person’s words or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is easy to detect these days, and will almost certainly result in a failing grade. Your instructor would much rather have your work, however inelegant or unpolished, than someone else’s work you’ve pretended is your own. Most instructors understand that not everyone is a gifted writer, and that’s why they usually give you detailed instructions to follow so that you’ll do your best work.

Set your essay aside for a time, preferably overnight, and then edit and proofread it before turning it in. Reread your instructions and ensure that you have followed them in terms of essay length, paragraph length, and any other specifications your instructor has. You don’t have to be the next Hemingway to score well on the college essay. Just follow the instructions, edit, and eliminate any grammatical or spelling errors, and you should do just fine.

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