How to Write the Perfect College Paper

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Raven Haller>Freshman>Humanities>UMBC

One thing you definitely don’t want to take on Spring Break is your midterm paper assignment.  Somehow beaches, pina coladas and laptops just don’t mix well.  Finish your paper early so you can leave your laptop at home, and save room for souvenirs.  Follow these simple steps and you’ll turn in an ‘A’ paper- just in time to celebrate.

Tip # 1: Nailing your thesis

 “Make sure that you do plenty of research before you formulate your thesis,” says Paul Walker, assistant professor of English at Murray State University.  Remember that “theses should be very specific and narrow in their scope,” he added.  With so much information available, it’s important to limit your thesis and stay on topic throughout your essay. 

Tip # 2: Make sure you answer the question completely. 

If you’re unsure, take Unity Colleges’ Dr. Kathryn Miles’ advice, and ask yourself, “Why am I writing this? Who am I writing this for?  What function is this paper supposed to serve?”

Tip # 3: Raw evidence isn’t enough. 

“You definitely need evidence, but [you also need] your own analysis of it.  The important thing is that connection:  what you’re bringing to the paper, not just what other people have said.  That adds depth to the paper,” advises Joanna Parypinski, a writing tutor at Butler University.

Tip #4 : Organization! 

Miles has several short and sweet suggestions: “[Have a] good sense of organization in the paper.  Every paragraph should only have one main idea and should relate directly back to your thesis statement.   Look for three things:  unity, support, and coherence.  Have you backed up everything you want to say with examples?  And no bullshit!  Professors can tell, we can smell it!” 

Tip #5 : The essential revision  

Walker  suggests these two tips: “Do a reverse outline.  Write down your main points as they appear in the paper,so that you can make sure they’re in the order that you want, and you can see if something is missing.”  For last-minute revisions:  “A good way to make sure you have no errors in your paper is to read it out loud and backwards.”

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College Magazine Staff

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