How to Write a Good College Essay
Writing a good college essay doesn’t have to be difficult. If you stick to three basic principles, your essay is bound to receive a great grade.
- Understand the Assignment
- Plan Well
- Proof & Edit
Most students who have difficulty receiving great grades on their college essays are losing points for something completely avoidable. It’s vitally important to complete the assignment in line with the instructions given, and the intent of your instructor. Not following directions closely and/or deviating from what the instructor expects are common mistakes, especially, for students new to college. While in high school, there may have been one common way of doing things, you’ll find in college that many instructors have their own preferences, and different classes and disciplines have their own conventions which must be followed. If they don’t pay attention to these things students should expect to receive marks off or even a failing grade.
Good planning applies to two things: Getting the assignment done on time, and getting the assignment done well. The very first stage is to choose your topic, or, if a topic has been chosen, to write a strong thesis statement. Once armed with a thesis statement, you’ll proceed to doing any research required and then creating an outline. The introduction should be comprehensive, covering the thesis and major supporting points you will use to support the thesis. The body of the essay should be organized by the main idea around each supporting point. Be sure to correctly cite ideas and quotes you use to support your argument. Finally, write a strong conclusion. In many ways, the conclusion is a restatement of the introduction: restate the thesis in new words, recap the supporting points, and wrap it up with a good conclusion sentence.
Finally, even if you feel your essay is already excellent, you and at least one other person should read over it. Things to check for include spelling and grammar mistakes, mistakes in citation or reference formatting, word choice, and sentence flow. Once you’ve marked every mistake on the essay, correct everything and give it one more read through. Spelling and grammar mistakes are rarely tolerated by instructors in college level classes. In grade school, you’re expected to be in the process of learning good spelling and grammar, but by college you should already know them or have the resources to correct your own mistakes.