10 Tips on Writing an Effective Scholarship or College Essay
Now that you are reading this article, it’s highly likely that you are staring at a blank page on your screen with no idea how to approach your college essay. College essays are usually time-consuming due to their complexity. Most importantly, they determine a student’s grade. Academic writing is one of the hardest skills to master.
However, this skill is essential for your success not only in college but also in your career. That’s why you need to put in the hours to master the writing skill. If you don’t know where to start, reading this article will help you become conversant with a few effective strategies that will make this process smooth.
To get a better idea of how to write a college essay, watch the video tutorial, as the tutor explained 7 GREAT College Essay Tips to Help You Stand Out, and many more.
Read on for more information.
Let’s get started!
Writing a college essay
We are going to break down this process into simple steps that will help you learn how to write an effective college essay regardless of the topic. Remember, there are many types of essays. And the length and content depend on the requirements and subject of study. Writing a good essay involves three stages:
- Preparing: Choosing your topic, conducting research, and creating an outline
- Writing: Setting the argument in the introduction section and developing while presenting evidence in the body section. You then wrap everything in the conclusion section.
- Revising: Checking organization, grammar, content, spelling, and format of your essay
The Preparation process
Before you start writing, you should ensure that you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’ll say it. There are a few simple steps that you need to follow to ensure that you are prepared:
- Understand the assignment: What is the goal of your essay? What are the expected length and deadline of your paper? Is there anything you need to clarify with your tutor?
- Define the topic: If you’ve been allowed to choose your topic, you should pick something that you not only know about but also one that you are interested in.
- Research: Read your sources and take notes to help you better understand the topic and the different angles. You can your findings as evidence.
- Write your thesis statement: A thesis statement is a central argument or point that you want to make. Your thesis statement should be clear. You need to keep referring back to it while writing.
- Craft an outline: Your outline acts as a map or guide. Without it, you increase your chances of losing track and focus. An outline will make your writing process smooth.
The introduction section has one aim: to grab the attention of your readers and inform them about what you’ll be covering in your essay. The introduction makes up ten to twenty percent of the essay. To write an essay introduction effectively, you need to:
- Hook the reader: The first sentence in the introduction section should grab your readers’ attention and make them curious. This sentence can be a quote, question, a bold statement, or a surprising statistic that emphasizes your topic’s relevance.
- Provide the background of your topic: After hooking the reader, you need to give context that will enable your reader to understand the argument clearly. This might involve providing additional information, giving an overview of essential academic work, or explaining broad and difficult terms. Avoid providing too much information in the introduction.
- Formulate your thesis statement: You need to present your thesis statement. This will be your main argument in the essay. The thesis statement provides signals and focuses on your position about the topic. It’s usually two sentences long.
The Body Section
The body section is where you present your supporting arguments, provide evidence, and come up with ideas. Its purpose is to present and analyze information and the sources that you’ve gathered to support your main argument.
The length of the body section depends on the requirements and nature of the essay. The body section makes up around 60 to 80 percent of your entire essay.
Your essay needs to have a clear structure. And this means using paragraphs. Each paragraph should be centered around one central idea. The purpose of every paragraph is to introduce topic sentences. The topic sentence helps you transition smoothly from the previous paragraph. And introduces the argument that needs to be made in your current paragraph. Transition words are normally used to create connections between sentences.
After presenting evidence by providing examples, data, and quotes, you need to interpret and explain it to show it develops your argument.
The conclusion section
- Draw connections between different points of the body section in your essay
- State the outcome of your argument
- Emphasize the significance and relevance of your thesis statement
A good conclusion should end with an impactful or memorable sentence that leaves the reader with a good impression. To improve the quality of this section, there are a couple of things that you need to avoid:
- Including new arguments and evidence
- Undermining arguments that you’ve presented in the body section
- Using phrases like “In conclusion” or “to sum up”
- Mistakes to avoid
There are a lot of intelligent students who end up writing terrible essays. What makes a college essay terrible? Some of the common aspects of a terrible essay include topic issues, flawed statements, and poor execution.
One of the best ways to screw your essay is to choose the wrong topic or discuss a different experience. Your choice of topic will affect the quality of your content. Starting your essay with the wrong topic will not only make your essay messy but also ruin your reputation.
Choosing bad topics shows the professor that you don’t possess a good sense of judgment. And this is a huge problem because tutors want to help their students handle life independently on campus and get good grades.
Bad topics also show that you are boring or someone who doesn’t experience life in a lively or colorful way. And this is a big issue since colleges want to help students become engaged and dynamic.
Bad topics indicate that you are unaware or disconnected from the world around you. And this is a major problem since colleges want to engage students with new ideas.
Even if the information that you are discussing is the foundation of your personal statement, how you structure and put together your essay will affect your performance. Most college essays aim at showing the professor your writing style and level of maturity.
A common execution problem is exhibiting faulty writing such as using punctuation incorrectly, spelling and grammatical errors, and using vague words. The use of careless reasons is another problem that seriously affects college students. And it shows that you can’t follow instructions.
The majority of students have a hard time going through their work. This is why you need to find someone else to proofread your work. You need to get someone who knows everything about punctuation, grammar, and is keen to detail. Failure to proofread will make you look like you don’t know the rules of writing or you don’t care about your presentation.
Typos, paragraph spacing, and punctuation issues: In most cases, these tend to be unintentional mistakes. However, taking the time to correct them shows that you are dedicated to the task at hand.
- Going beyond the word limit: One of the best ways to show that you are brilliant is the ability to work within the rules and limitations. Going beyond the word count shows that you lack self-control.
- Repeating the same phrases: Doing this not only makes your essay monotonous but also difficult to read.
Consider the tone of your essay
Always keep your ego in check. Remember, humility always wins. We all have weaknesses. And it would be best to show your readers how you’ve overcome them or what you’ve learned from your mistakes. You can be humorous if you want to but don’t be a comedian.
Plagiarism is a serious offense in college. Colleges have strict policies when it comes to plagiarism. And they use a wide range of tools to detect plagiarism. You cannot get away with it. Plagiarism can lead to suspensions or expulsions. Your entire essay should contain original ideas that are supported by credible sources. The best time to check for plagiarism is during the proofreading and revision stages. Never submit a paper that hasn’t been proofread or checked for plagiarism.
Follow the format
Every college essay has a bibliography format. Your professor will request you to follow this format while writing your essay. Every format has a unique style. You should never lose points because of using the wrong format.
Writing a college essay is not difficult. You need to start early by creating a plan and following the plan to the end. Don’t wait until the last minute to start working on your essay. Most importantly, don’t give up. Keep on keeping on until you master the art of writing.