Preparing a college essay Books / College Life / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

This blog post comes after a busy day of grading papers at the three colleges where I teach. Here are some tips I wish my students knew about writing an essay for college:

Before you submit a paper, read it out loud. You will find mistakes you had no idea were there!

Do not write a run-on sentence. If, as you read the sentence out loud, you have to come up for air, divide the sentence into more than one sentence. A sentence that goes on and on and on and on will not endear you to your prof.

Make sure you have followed the directions!!!!!! One time, I was preparing to submit a paper online but decided to go back over the instructions one more time. I had written the wrong paper! Happily, I was able to go back over the paper and make some changes that turned it into the right paper but my grade would have been seriously impacted if I had not taken the time to make sure I got things right.

Make certain that you have followed the correct formatting, especially if the professor has posted an example of the essay you are to write. Does she ask for MLA or APA format? Don’t re-invent the wheel here- it really does matter. Follow whichever style guide he or she asks for.

Don’t argue with your professor. It is fine to ask questions about the grading but do not insist he or she accept your ideas for how the paper should be written. Ask with respect and sincere politeness. You would be amazed at how flexible we may become, if we are asked nicely.

Do not write a negative review of the instructor to “get back” at her for a bad grade. Take responsibility for your own education and admit that you maybe, just maybe, might have messed up. Some of us having been doing this line of work since you were in middle school….or longer.

Have a great day!

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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