Finally!  You have graduated high school, enjoyed a long summer in preparation to start your freshman year of college.  The suspense has been building; you have taken the tours, met your roommate, bought supplies and shown where the weekend activities take place.  This is the fun stuff, but we’re not in Kansas anymore.  You will attend a variety of classes teaching you the basics of higher education, and unlike high school, completing an assignment the morning before class just won’t cut it anymore.

Each of you will be required to take a writing class in your first year, a very different writing class than what you’ve experienced in high school.  Most papers written in high school only allow a student to research a topic and write on what the facts say.  Who actually talks like that in real life?  Think about the morning after the Super Bowl, or a Presidential Election, this is usually the first thing that is talked about when you see your peers.  Imagine the conversation, sure, you debate the quarterback’s stats, and who deserves MVP, or the margin of victory and the political party that new president represents, but is that all you say?  Anyone can quote the game scores or the margin of victory, those are the cold hard facts, but using those facts to make a strong argument on why you believe in Tom Brady, or President Obama, is a key to not only having a productive conversation, but crafting a well written college paper.

In every conversation, in everyday of our life, we use the information we have learned to support our opinions, this is a mirror of college writing.  Having the ability to relate an assignment to something you have experienced in your own life or a current event in the news, makes your writing personal.  This is where the research phase of your paper is so important.  Learning everything you can about what you’re writing helps you the writer connect to the subject.  Once students completely understand the topic that is being written, the words tend to flow in the page. All of the sudden the 4-5 page paper seems like too little space to condense all of your facts and views.

This type of writing cannot be achieved in a few hours, your professors tend to allow more than enough time for a writing assignment to be completed.  A good method I have discovered, is to use your research sources one at a time, read the source three to four times and walk away. Continue to think throughout the day how what was read is similar to something you see or hear in your other classes, the news, or general conversation. Do this with each source that is required, a day at a time. Now, go back and write, start by explaining the key points in your source showing similarities with real world happenings to keep the reader interested.  The last thing you want to write is an encyclopedia, containing all facts. BORING!

Not everything you write you will immediately be interested in, using this method, taking the research a little at a time spreads the workload, and keeps it less overwhelming.  You will be surprised how often your mind begins to wander, relating things you are familiar with to the seemingly boring academic journal that provides your research information.  Analyzing your sources a few times over before writing is similar to a watching an intense crime drama, usually the second or third time it is watched, the more details are pulled out of it.  I wish you luck, put in the time before, and the writing will come easier.