By Valeria Tirado
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I consider myself to be a pretty decent writer. Shocking, right?
It’s still pretty early in the semester but I bet some of you are already drowning in a sea of homework, and I can almost guarantee most of that work is writing papers. Well, luckily I’m here to help. I’m going to give you some tips on something that actually matters in your life: writing for college classes.
First things first, format matters. You’re gonna become familiar with a bunch of different formats, namely MLA and APA, throughout your college career and it’s important that you know them well. There are hundreds of online resources for writing in whatever format your professor prefers.
Although some people find sticking to these formats difficult, so long as you keep these resources close at hand, you can always be sure you’re at least close to the mark. Some teachers may be strict about sticking to the script, but more often than not so long as you demonstrate a knowledge of the formats and write a good paper on top of that, they’ll allow you a little wiggle room.
Another important aspect of college writing is one of the ones that can be the most aggravating to adhere to. I’m talking about citations. Citing your work is the most important thing you can do for any paper that involves even a shred of research.
In the interest of keeping this readably short, I’ll highlight the two most important things to remember about citations:
One, Wikipedia is not a reliable source, and even their own citations can be unreliable.
Two, citations should be stringently researched before use. Even if two citations say the same thing, if one doesn’t show its work or is from an unreliable source, you should use the other.
My final piece of advice is simple: keep writing. Even if you have no idea what to write, where to begin or have a clear destination for your writing in mind, that’s fine, just keep writing.
Anything you write can be fixed in the editing stage no matter how bad it ends up being. Brainstorming and rough drafts are your friends in college writing, as they help you get your ideas out onto paper to be refined and corrected on your second go. Stagnation and procrastination are the only real roadblocks to writing anything, but college papers most of all.
You can further your abilities by practicing, reading the works of others in order to improve your own, and by attending tutorship programs provided by most colleges. If none of those appeal to you there are plenty of online writing communities that would happily and anonymously critique your writing abilities. Happy writing!
Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.