I am sure that you can remember the first toy you bought as a child with your own money, I know I can. I also recall how terribly upset I was to hand the store clerk the money I had spent my valuable time on saving; still I bought the toy anyway, noticing it came with a small folded paper filled with directions and safety warnings.If you were hard headed as I am you did not read those directions and in turn completely ruined the new toy you spent your hard earned money on.It is hard watching something that you have spent your valuable time on go to waste, money and toys are compatible with grades and papers. Just like the toy came with a set of directions papers comes with a rubric; if you neglect the directions you lose the toy the same as if you neglect the rubric you lose the grade. As I said before I am extremely hard headed I ruined my first toy and just recently a paper. I became excited about the topic of the paper and failed to even look over the rubric; I was positive I had written a really good paper and even sent it to previous high school teachers to have it read over but received a zero only because I had two sources rather than the required four; the rubric clearly stated to have four sources. Though it may seem simple to just always check over the rubric it is indeed essential.
The rubric for a paper is a professors way of guiding you through the paper, it can essentially be a step by step guide to an “A” paper. As you probably know from high school writing they generally tell you the topic or rules for the paper, the format, the length required, and other general requirements such as sources. It is always a good idea to thoroughly look over the rubric before even starting your research for the paper, that way you know what is expected of you ahead of time; including how many sources you will be needing to pull creditable information from.
From personal experience I know that it sounds repetitive and a waste of time to double check the rubric so many times; in all honesty though you would be amazed at the little things you could miss by not constantly going over it. After finishing writing the entire paper before turing it in it is vital to look over the rubric one last time to make sure that you have throughly hit every request the professor has made on your paper.
Also, a rubric can be like the warranty information always included on that little slip of paper. For example, if your writing an argumentative essay and one of your counterarguments seems too weak, you can refer back to the rubric to see if you need it. Just like the warranty on a toy will allow you to replace it if its broken, the rubric will help guide you through the issue and replace the broken sections.
So, whenever you are given a rubric take full advantage and use it as your toy’s little instruction sheet. Read it as a step-by-step guide that will help you form and write your essay. Refer back to it whenever you have issues with what your writing and go back to the rubric whenever you finish the essay to make sure that you’ve covered what the professor wants because the worst feeling of all as a child is breaking that toy you spend your hard earned money just because you didn’t read the instructions, and now as a college student you’d feel terrible getting a nice goose egg on an amazing paper just because you didn’t look over the rubric.

Why are thesis statements important???

Hello freshman! I bet that you are really excited to start your life as college student, but I also know that it can be a bit overwhelming. Trust me when I say that in college you will do a ton of writing. You will have some sort of writing in every class you take, and every assignment will be asking for different things. I know that writing at the college level can seem a bit intimidating, but it only will be if you let it be. The one thing that will always help you become a better writer in all of your classes is having a strong clear thesis statement. Thesis statements are there in your paper to help not only the reader, but they are also there to help you out as a writer.

Thesis statements are really important in the structure of your paper. Thesis statements are like the foundation of a building. If you have a shaky foundation then your building will not be structurally correct, and having a shaky building is quite horrific! The same goes with thesis statements. If you have a terrible thesis statement then your paper will be unstable and this will probably lead to a bad grade. So it is really important to have a good thesis statement that is really structurally firm.

Thesis statements are also there to help you out as a writer. Having a structurally sound thesis statement will help you organize your paper better. Thesis statement will help you plan out the rest your paper and it will help you stay on topic. In college you will be required to write really long papers. (Ugh!) If you’re like me then it is really easy to get off track while writing these long papers. Your thesis statement is a tool that is there to help you stay on track while reading these papers. As a writer you should often go and reread it so that you know that you are staying on track. So it is really important to have a clear strong thesis statement so that you can successfully structure your paper.

Another important thing that thesis statements do is that they make is easier for the reader to understand your paper. In college you will have to read some really confusing articles assigned by professors that you have no idea what they are about. (Trust me; I’ve had to do that many times) A really good thing to do is to find the thesis statement of the article before you read the rest of the paper so you can get some idea of what the writer is trying to argue. The same rule goes for your own papers so if you don’t want to confuse the readers it a good idea to make a strong and clear thesis statement. This is important so that the readers can go back and read the thesis statement so that they can understand what your paper is about.

Writing in college is not as scary as you think. Just remember to make solid thesis statement and then you’ve already laid down the foundation for your paper. I hope you enjoy college life. Good luck!

Don’t Dread The Thesis Statement

You have made it to college! Remember all those times that your high school teachers would say “You need to know this for college”? Push those out the window. There are too many misconceptions about college writing. Some teachers say it is extremely difficult (its not), some say it is impossible to get an “A”(its not), and others have ridiculous notions that every paper you write will be 20 pages(longest paper I have written so far? 5 Pages). So in an effort to help your transition to college, and college writing, I am going to clear one up for you. The dreaded thesis statement.

In high school, my teachers would spend weeks talking about how to form a thesis statement. Every year it would change. One year they would say to place it at the beginning, the next at the end of the introduction. One year they would say every thesis follows the “In the document _____ by ____, the author asserts that_____” format. The next year it would have no specific format. When it comes to college writing it all becomes uniform. There is no other place to put a thesis, one place only(end of your introduction). There is no set format (say your thesis however you want). As a student who has gone through the college writing process, the best advice I can give you is to answer these questions when you begin writing your thesis.

1. Does my thesis answer the question of the assignment?

2. Does my thesis cover all of my topics?

3. Is my thesis clear?

Every assignment asks you to answer a question. Whether it be, what is your opinion, or to define a certain topic. Your thesis needs to answer the question. There is no deviation there. In order for you to stay on topic throughout your paper, answer the question right away in your thesis.

In a typical essay you have three different sub-topics to address in regards to your original topic. So after you have conducted all of your research and selected your three sub-topics, find a way to incorporate those into your thesis. If you were writing a paper about an author and example would be something along the lines of; “The author _____ address, (insert topic 1), (insert topic 2), and (insert topic 3), throughout their essays.” This format, or something along those lines, gives your reader a clear map to follow and will also let them know what exactly they will be reading about, and what order they will read about these topics. You want your reader to be hooked after they read your introduction because that is what keeps them interested.

When you are writing your thesis do not fill it with unnecessary details (that’s what your body paragraphs are for). Give your reader the sub-topics you will be addressing in your thesis statements so it becomes clear for the reader what exactly they are reading. Do not go to in depth within your thesis, and try to condense your sub-topics into as few words as possible. Your thesis is not another paragraph. It is one sentence that tells your reader what they will be reading about, what you will be addressing, and in certain cases, what your opinion is. As readers, we want to know what we are reading and we do not want to be bombarded with to much information right off the bat. If the reader has a clear map of what they will read, it makes them want to keep reading.

I know that this may seem like a lot of information. Take a deep breath. Once you get the hang of writing thesis statements, it will become very easy. On your first attempt with a college paper take your time. Do not get frustrated if you cannot form a thesis right away. You will go through many variations of statements, whether it be wording, or topic order, just keep writing. An old teacher of mine used to say “Don’t Think, Just Write.” You know your topic, you researched it, and you have been with this paper since the day it was assigned. You know it.  Do not think to hard, just start writing. If you close your computer after you finish reading this and walk away, just remember to answer the question, cover your topics, and make it clear. If you do these, it will make writing the rest of paper that much easier.

All writing is chaotic. Embrace the chaos and just write.

Evidence is the Key

Welcome to college. Get ready for some of the best four years of your life. Adjusting to college life can be hard. Having to learn how to live with another person, living on your own, and most importantly adjusting to your work load. It can be hard but trust me it will all be worth it.

I am sure the importance of a thesis statement has been drilled into your head since a young age. Your teachers expected it to be located at the end of the first paragraph, contain at least three sub topics to support your opinion on the one main topic, and required you to back it up with specific examples and information. Well have no fear college writing is pretty much exactly like that. You are still forced to form your own opinion on the topic at hand, place the thesis statement at the end of the introduction, and most importantly evidence is always required to back up the assertion in a thesis statement. A thesis statement is like the starting line to a race it is where everything starts and where everything ends. Starting out with a strong thesis statement and valuable evidence to back it up can be everything you need to win the race.

Now that a strong thesis statement is developed its time to collect evidence to back up the thesis statement. Evidence backing up the assertion in a thesis statement is what makes the paper. Evidence in a paper is like the meat to a sandwich. Without the meat in the sandwich there would be no sandwich, and without the evidence to back up the thesis there would be no paper. Throughout the paper evidence and information is always related back to the thesis statement. All evidence that is gathered

In order to find valuable information to back up a thesis statement research must be done on the topic. Make sure the source the information is gathered from is a valuable source. The library provides several resources that can aid in finding reliable information for a paper such as academic journals, books, articles, and much more. When adding evidence to your paper it starts out with an introduction to the quotation.  This usually informs the reader of what the quotation is about. When putting the evidence into a paper make sure everything is cited correctly so risk of plagiarism is lowered. Typical English papers are written in MLA format for more information on correctly citing sources check out A Pocket Style Manual Sixth Edition by Diana Hacker and Nancy SommersThis provides great information in correctly citing sources.

After the research is gathered and everything is cited in the correct format your paper will have all the evidence needed to back up your thesis statement. See I told you it is exactly like high school writing. So coming into college there is really not anything to worry about, just use what you have learned from high school and apply the new things you have learned throughout college and you should breeze through college English papers like a champ.

Writing in College is Not Hard at All


Every high school senior that is a few months away from becoming a freshman in college has the fear of not being able to write at the freshman college level.  As incoming freshman at a highly educational university you become inclined to ask yourself if you have been prepared well enough to succeed in writing all kinds of essays.  High school seniors begin show signs of doubt that their writing ability is not where the college Doctor or Professor feels that the freshmen should be writing at.  I am here to tell incoming freshman that possessing the fear of writing at the college level is normal, but the fear is not all what it is cracked up to be.  I will give you my personal encounters with the freshman fear and tell you that there is nothing to fear about writing college papers.  I want you to receive that first college writing assignment and once you have completed the assignment I want you to say it a piece of cake.

Before I entered college as a freshman I was terrified to think whether or not I had the capability to write at the college level as a freshman.  As I prepared to leave for college I asked myself was I scaffold enough over the course of 12 years to succeed at the level of college writing?  Before entering college I had no idea that the fear of writing at the college level was a common fear of most new freshman at a university.  My fear of writing came to me when I started to write college entrance essays for universities.

My fear of writing at the college level was partially because of my peers.  My parents played a major role in my fear, they stressed that writing in college was totally different from writing in high school.  My friends that were rising sophomores in college told me stories of their encounters of writing as freshman and the only bit of information I took away from their experience was that writing at the college level was dreadful.  After being stressed to about how important it was to write at a college and told scary stories from my friends I began to contemplate if I was ready to even to attend a university.

Little did I know that writing at a university level is not as hard as I was told it was.   Writing at the college level is just like writing as a senior in high school.  Doctors or Professors are not asking students to write novels, they simply give students a topic and expect them to elaborate on the topic given.  This is basically the same as in high school the only difference may be the number of pages the student is expected to write or the number of papers the student has to write.  If the incoming freshman goes to class, ask the Doctor or Professor questions, and reads the syllabus then writing at a college level will become natural to the freshman and the fear of writing at the college level will soon be conquered.  Once the fear is conquered the freshman will ask his or herself why they even stressed about writing at the university level to begin with.

As a freshman entering college, writing is not difficult.  Writing is only as hard as the student makes it out to be.  Getting the acceptance from the university should be a sign for the new freshman that they have the ability to write on a university level.  The university believes in you so you as a student should believe in yourself as well.  So, before you begin writing those college papers conquer the fear of writing and tell yourself that you possess the capability to write at any level of college writing.

Is the Syllabus a big deal?

When I was in high school, I never used a syllabus. I would always just pretend to read it and never actually pay attention to what was actually being discussed on the page. In high school that never really was a problem, I was just like everyone else. If a teacher wanted something done he or she would remind us four or five times at least. While this was convenient to myself and all those slackers around me, who never really bothered to read the thing, it kind of set me in a bad path for when I got to college.

When I got to college it was drilled into me pretty quickly that if I didn’t read the syllabus I’d be dead in the water. I didn’t know how right that information actually was, until I showed up to one of my classes and we immediately had a quiz on reading that was only posted on the syllabus. I quickly realized how important it was to always read the syllabus. As I began reading the syllabi for all my classes I began realizing these weren’t at all like the dinky little one sheets given out in high school. No. These were more like five to ten pages of vital information that needed to be made easily accessible as soon as possible. I began looking back at some of my older syllabi and I saw the dramatic differences and some of the similarities. High school syllabi are not at all as in depth as the ones you’ll get in college they won’t have the grading scale that that the professor uses and generally won’t have all the reading that you’ll be doing, with the exception of an AP or advanced studies programs. College syllabi will typically talk about the teachers expectations, as well as what you will generally be learning about with the readings, the dates of most if not all quizzes and tests. College syllabi will also have the assignments for that class and depending on the professor they will have places to check out for extra help or places to cite information for their particular school (MLA, APA or whatever the professor prefers). These are incredibly helpful and are always a great tool that you should definitely utilize, because usually if a professor is going to take the time to put something in their syllabus it will be expected that you use it. Reading only a little bit of the syllabus is like watching the movie to a story your supposed to be writing a book report on, you get some of the details, but it is lacking a significant part.  Your professor is here for you if you have any questions about what they have in their syllabus, they want to help you through the transition of becoming a Longwood student.

What you’ll learn is that when it comes to prepping for college it is always best to read the whole syllabi, and if you’re anything like me, you probably won’t want to but it really is for the best. It really helps to have a good strong start and you honestly cannot beat knowing what is going on in the class and what you will need.

If you decide to take my advice you will probably have a great start in college, but either way I wish you all the best and hope you excel here at this wonderful University.

Professors Are Your Friend

Transitioning from high school to college is a very happy yet terrifying moment in any incoming freshman’s life. You learn to live on your own, choose when you have classes, choose what classes to take, and choose when to, and how well to do your school work. One of the biggest things incoming freshman worry about are writing papers and talking to professors. Most come in fearing that their professors will give them lengthy papers with rubrics that will make you want to tear their hair and be intimidated and scared to meet with them. This is not the case.  They key to first year writing is first to practice your writing, and developing a relationship with your professor.

When I first came to college I terrified of going to my classes because I thought I was going to be overwhelmed with writing and the professors were going to mark me down unless I wrote a masterpiece. Reality hit me when I failed my first two papers for my English class. I was so frustrated because I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong and I wrote like I always did in high school. So I went to my professor and asked If I could meet after class to discuss about the upcoming paper because I did not want to fail any more papers and I wanted to succeed. I talked with my professor for a while about the paper and the requirements to make sure my ideas were exactly what he was looking for. We then sat down and discussed my previous papers and what I did wrong. He gave me tips and told me exactly what he wants as an English professor. After that meeting I felt like I had the secret guide to writing in my head that he taught me. I then never got below an eighty on any paper I wrote after that. I was so pleased with the results that I then sat down with the rest of my professors and discussed my writing with all of them. Now I get compliments from all of my professors on my writing improvement and my ability to come and check in with them to learn more.

Talking with professors will be your greatest tool as an incoming freshman will have in college. Image them as a personal trainer. You come in with only so much knowledge and can push yourself so far, but with the professor’s knowledge and your dedication they can lead you to be the best you possibly can be. They can tell you what your good at and show you what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it so that you can be successful in the future. It’s always a good idea to be in your professors office or want to meet with them as much as possible because this shows you care about what their class. They love when a student comes to them always looking to learn more and seeking advice. Developing this relationship can also help put their attitude in a more forgiving perspective when grading your work because they can put a name with a face.  It also helps to meet with all of your professors to find out the writing styles of each and what each one looks for in a good paper.

As freshman there are a lot of things to be scared of but meeting with your professors and writing should not be them. Professors will be your key to success and developing a relationship with them will help you the rest of your college career. It helps you meet your professors and find out what they look for in a good paper. They will help guide you with any struggles you have and help you succeed to whatever level you want. My own personal story shows how helpful and how beneficial it was to meet with my professor and in return I am successful in my writing assignments. The professors are your personal trainers and they are there to guide you down the path to successful writing.


Who Says?

When preparing to write a paper can seem really scary at first and very confusing. When I first started writing in college I never realized that there were techniques that I could use that would make forming an argument or thesis for my paper so much easier by identifying them in my research part of forming my paper.

The technique I like is looking for the They Say argument and incorporating it into your own argument. You can easily identify the They Say argument in your evidence or reading that you have picked out to help you write your paper. Once you have identified the They Say argument you can build an argument off of this argument. It will help you choose a side of the argument and let you gather evidence that will help you persuade your audience to you point of view but without coming off as biased. Giving off a biased vibe in a paper is an immediate turn off to your readers and makes your paper seem not credible. This makes for a poorly written paper and unfortunately a bad grade, but the They Say argument could really help with this dilemma that you may have.

You can build an opinion off of the They Say argument and you can also build a very strong argument from it as well. First you have to pick a side. Are you for the They Say argument or against it? Once you have picked a side you can now start building off of the They Say argument. You can use what the They Say for your argument in agreement and it will strengthen your argument by accrediting your argument with credible evidence and quotations from credible authors. Or you can use the evidence or quotations against your argument and provide contradicting evidence to show that your point on the subject is credible and it will help persuade your audience more easily.

Providing the They Say argument will also help you persuade your audience more easily because by providing the other side of the argument it makes your paper seem less biased and more rounded. It will help your readers make up their own minds on the subject and allow them to form their own opinions on the matter. The They Say argument allows the audience to see the other side of the argument. Providing these will strength your argument with the audience and in turn will strengthen your writing and your paper.

The They Say argument will help you in other parts of your paper such as: research, organizing thoughts, and the structure of your paper. They Says are very useful in conquering college writing. It will lessen the fears you have that you have when it comes to college writing. If you use the They Say tactic in tackling your writing in college it will help you formulate a well rounded, informative, effective, and very persuasive argument paper.

This is a technique that I use and is extremely helpful. It makes writing a paper so much easier and will help boost your grades on those pesky college papers that students fear during the school year.

Don’t Be Afraid They Are People Too

After spending four years in high school English classes I had the fear of college writing pounded into my head. I hope this tip can relieve some of your pent up anxiety about writing in a college setting.

I will admit I bought into all the hype during high school. I believed that college professors were up tight and not concurred about individual students. However I found this is not the case at Longwood. With Longwood’s relatively small class sizes I can honestly say most of my professors know me by my first name and will answer any questions I ask them through email or in-person so consider yourself lucky.

After buying into the fear like most freshmen, I stumbled at first, trying to make up for lost ground I decided to go to my professors’ during office hours. Although this might be something that you feel timid about, I would strongly recommend it. You are an adult now so do not be afraid of your professors they will treat you like a professional. They are not petty about helping you out that is what they have office hours for. In fact I have had several professors thank me for coming to their office hours because students hardily do.

When you set up the conference with your professor come prepared with some questions like:

  1. What style are you expecting this class to write in? (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.)
  2. What are your expectations for my writing?
  3. What are some things you never like to see in writing?
  4. What is writing like in my major?(This is a major specific question only to ask professor from your major of study)
  5. Will everything expected in the essay be found in the rubric?

These questions lay the ground work for your college writing and show the professor you want your writing to stand out and appeal to their taste. Remember the easier it is for them to read the easier it is to grade.

I felt like interviewing my professors was like winning a prize knowing everything they want and expect in my writing. After a ten to twenty minute conference with my professors my work dramatically improved and my papers grades began to increase. Also an added bonus after meeting with your professors is that they will be able to put a face to the name making you more than just a body in their class.

This helps with whichever major you choose, because you will more than likely have the same professor more then once and you can reuse the knowledge you gained from your freshman interview to help you write in their class for the rest of your college career.

This tip can follow you all the way through college, do not just limit this to your freshman writing. With every new semester schedule take time to talk to professors during their office hours and get to know the expectations of your classes. This will make you stand out in the crowd of other students hungry for success. Professors are not scary do not be fearful of them, they are people too.