How to Write a College Level Essay

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By: Marie Fincher

October 05, 2015

How to Write a College Level Essay

As you have probably already realized, there are significant differences between life as a high school student and life as a college student. As you have participated in classroom discussions, you have probably noticed that your instructors tend to take a step back and let students lead the discussions. You've probably also noticed that you are expected to be able to back up your ideas when you participate in these discussions. A second thing that has likely caught your attention is that you are held fully accountable for your own work and success. Your professors won't lecture you about attendance or keeping up with your work. One of the most important differences you will notice is that your writing must be at a higher level in college than it was in high school. You will be expected to show greater insight in your writing, to use more advanced sources, to be more accurate with spelling grammar and punctuation, and to work at a faster pace. You will be graded according to these standards. Right now, you may be wondering, how to write a college level essay. This is a valid thought, after all this is the most common writing assignment you will encounter in school.

Here's some good news. There are a few things you can do to elevate your writing so that it is acceptable on the college level.

Brevity is Your Friend

When you learn how to write an essay for college the first thing you need to understand is that being verbose will not earn you accolades. In fact, just the opposite is true. Writing that is brief, concise, and that makes a strong and evocative point is the hallmark of college level writing. This may seem counter-intuitive given the required length of many college writing assignments. Just remember that there is a difference between using more words is not the same as adding more detail or working additional points into your writing. The former can leave the impression that you are simply stuffing words into your writing assignment to meet a minimum word requirement. The latter leaves the impression that you have taken the time to study your subject in great detail.

Put the Thesaurus Away

If you want to build a great vocabulary, that is a wonderful thing. It will serve you well in your writing assignments. Just keep in mind that there is a difference between using a new word because you understand what it means and can use it in your writing in an appropriate and organic way, and using a word simply because you found it in a thesaurus. If you are going to use a new word, make sure you fully understand the meaning of the word, and that you are using it in the right context.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Proper citation of sources is an extremely serious matter in college. Make sure that every word that you write that does not come directly from your own mind is credited to the proper source. Fortunately, if you use sources from academic databases you are usually given the option to generate a citation. There are also apps that will generate citations. 

Marie Fincher

While being committed to a number of charitable causes, like volunteering at special events or giving free art lessons to children, Marie doesn’t forget her vocation – writing. She can write about almost anything but has focused on time management, motivation, academic and business writing.