February 05, 2017
We are going into a semester filled with the promise of getting good grades. The one grade that we all want to try to get that elusive A on is the English paper.
Whether the style the professor requires is argumentative, critical thinking, narrative, or research we want the topic to be one that no one else has chosen in our class, and we want it to be fresh and new in its delivery.
One of the tools that we suggest you use to make sure that you have an original work is the study group. Put up a notice that you are forming a study group with the time and place pre-determined.
During the study group, the first thing on the agenda will be topics. Have a poll or vote among your peers to see what they are writing about and agree that you will all do something different. Your professor will be happy to have papers that are diverse in their delivery.
Choosing your topic is tricky. You want to make sure you have a topic that has been thoroughly researched by many, to gain the most critical analysis possible. This may seem like it’s too much information, but the more abstract ideas you can read on a subject, the more subjectivity you can put on it from your own point of view.
You do not want to choose a topic that does not have enough information for you to glean from. Keep this in mind for all your papers. Writers piggy-back one another. It is good to have an original idea, but it must have a basis.
The best place to find well-studied information is your school's library. Ask for journals written by former students and professors on your subject. They have been published for their in-depth study of a subject.
Your next important tool is your professor. No matter how much you think he is stoic or unapproachable, do it anyway. Your professor may be more approachable than you think once you get to know him or her.
They give you their office hours at the top of the syllabus, use those hours to your advantage. Your professor is looking forward to meeting with you to help you become the best student you can be.
Discuss with them your topic and ask for pointers. See if they think it is a good subject to cover. They may have some suggestions and steer you in the right direction.
Always look at your Professor bookshelves and ask if you may have or borrow something from his collection. You will be amazed how many books I have because of this. When you are asking about your topic, many professors may instinctively give you a book they have based on that very topic from their collection.
Sometimes your topic is chosen by the professor, this is usually in 1st-year classes. If this is the case utilize your study group to bounce off the idea of the material that is given in class. Ask your peers what do they see in the reading. Be mindful that there are no wrong answers. The reason for English study groups is to be able to accept critical thinking and become a better writer.
If you get to choose then you might try some of the following topics:
A reader writes well. If you are having trouble trying to figure out what topics are the best to use, read what another essayist has written. Look at how they formed their introduction. How it led to their body of work, and how they seamlessly came to their conclusion. Learning from other writers is the best way to learn to write.
It won’t make you a novelist if that is not what you are studying to become, but it will get you through the college days of having to write essays for your English courses.