For many, winter break is over or coming to an end. That means it’s time to get back into school-mode—going to class, studying for quizzes and tests, and preparing for the dreaded college essay. Term papers are often some of the most daunting challenges facing both domestic and international students during the course of a semester. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with these assignments. Here are a few tips to help you next time your professor assigns a paper:
Meet with your professor: If you are struggling with a college essay, it may be worthwhile to set up a meeting with your professor or a teaching assistant. After all, they will be the ones actually reading and grading your assignment. In addition to letting you know if your thesis is on the right track, they may be able to clear up any uncertainties you have about the assignment.
Use on-campus resources: Many schools offer services designed to help out students who are struggling with papers and other assignments. Check out your school’s website or ask friends and professors if they know if your school offers tutoring or writing coaches. These resources can usually assist with spelling and grammar issues, and may even help with your paper’s structure.
Put together an outline: Before diving into your work, put together an outline that lays out what you want to cover in your paper. A strong outline should highlight your overall thesis and identify the ways you are planning to back up your claims. If you are preparing a creative writing assignment, use your outline to present your storyline, themes, settings, and characters.
It may seem unnecessary and time-consuming to include this additional step, but it will both help you visualize how you want your paper to look and help make sure the paper you hand in on the due date is well-organized and complete.
Write, read, and reread: The act of writing a college essay can be mentally and physically exhausting. However, it is important to avoid submitting your work immediately after you finish writing it. Instead, take some time to go through a reread your paper; often you will find places that need work or glaring issues that need to be taken care of.
If you still have time, put the paper aside and go occupy your thoughts with another activity. When you are back at your computer, revisit your paper and give it one last read-through. Refreshed, you may find other issues that need tweaking or sections that can be improved.
Do not procrastinate: Crafting a strong college essay requires patience and dedication. It may be tempting to put off your assignment until the last minute, but professors can tell the difference between a paper that was sloppily written the night before the due date and one written with care.
Start early: To ensure you have plenty of time to complete your assignment, get started early. Well before the due date, head to the library or another quiet place and dedicate a solid chunk of time to getting your words on paper. If you have the bulk of your work completed when the big day rolls around, you can use the last few hours before class to make small changes and edits. While others are feeling the pressure, you will be ready for class armed with your best work.