Defeating Your Naysayers

A huge part of conquering your research is the proper use of your naysayers. A naysayer would be considered someone skeptical of your argument that may have some disagreement to what you are presenting. For example, if you are arguing why steroids should be allowed in professional sports, an obvious naysayer would be anyone disagreeing with you, saying that you might be wrong and steroids should stay outlawed.

Properly using what other people might say against your argument can actually enhance your own argument in a great way, almost like the concept of fighting fire with fire. Incorporating naysayers into your argument can not only add credibility to your argument, but also prove to the readers that you are not blind to the other side of the argument.Many writers will argue for their side without ever addressing any points that the other side of the argument could make, which gives critics endless opportunities to rip apart the writers’ arguments and question the extent of their knowledge. By properly addressing the naysayers of your own argument, you are disarming the critics before they get a chance to use their arguments against what you have written. When doing this, you can use what they might say in forming and writing your own ideas that can convince the reader why any of these arguments against your own may not be quite right.

At the time that you are adding naysayers into your paper, don’t simply just knock them to the ground without much thought, try to keep in mind that just because they may disagree with you, it does not make them entirely wrong. While presenting your naysayer, try using some positive reinforcement to what they are saying and give them some benefit of the doubt, then use what research you have gathered to persuade your reader as to why you are correct, opposed to the naysayers. You are not necessarily trying to prove why those who argue against you might be simple minded or ill informed, but trying to persuade a specific reader into believing your own argument. When addressing a naysayer’s argument, you have to remember to follow that by answering with your own argument. If you try to pile all of your naysayers into one section without actually providing anything against them, you will actually just be hurting yourself and making your argument harder to believe.

Naysayers should be brought up one at a time, each one dealt with properly. You have to make sure that if you are going to bring up a naysayer, you can properly answer and respond, without simply stating something along the lines of, “I think they are incorrect.” By simply asserting that they may be wrong without actually explaining why you feel that way, you are setting yourself up for failure. Properly placing naysayers into your work can have a huge impact on how strong your arguments are. The placement of these naysayers and properly arguing against them in a persuasive manner can be exactly what you need to fuel your college papers.

Knowing The Differences

It is always nerve-racking the first couple of weeks getting adjusted, but you figure it out just like you have every year. It’s just one more step up on the ladder you’ve been climbing your whole life, and at this point you’ve done it 12 times already, so no sweat. High school is mandatory (for the most part) and you are now in college because you want to be. Although there are differences in the structure and difficulty of writing from high school to college, I’ll show you what to look out for so you are feeling much more prepared during your transition.

Just about every college course is tied around the usage of language and good writing. If education is a ladder, high school is the support while college is the rungs; high school is a crucial building block tied into every stepping stone towards being prepared for college.

Whatever your schooling background is, does not matter in the long run. It may be more difficult in the beginning, but catching up won’t take long. I came from a non-college prep high school, so I was a little apprehensive going into my first writing class in college; English and writing have never been my strong suit. Because of this, I was unsure on when I should take my first English class. I was most nervous about forgetting what I had learned in High School or if I didn’t know enough. Looking back I can tell you that it is no big deal.

The difficulty of the writing classes you take in college are far from unmanageable, but they are different from high school English. The professors are going to have several classes to deal with, and sometimes hundreds of papers to grade. Your goal is to make your paper unique; to make it stand out while still following whatever format your teacher wants you to follow. Unlike high school, the grading in college is much tougher. You may have been able to get away with doing just one draft of your paper and writing it one or two days in advance, but now it is a little more requiring of you. To achieve a decent grade, you need to start your writing further in advance in order to give yourself time to make several drafts of your paper to catch all of your mistakes and imperfections. Preparation for the increased expectations can be achieved through tutoring, group study, or even reading more on your own.

Structure is an essential part of writing in both high school and college; the general layout of your papers will stay the same. You will still need an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It is important to stick to your basics and build upon what you have. The works you need to prepare yourself for will generally be longer than what you have written in high school. It is also important to follow the requirements of the given assignment. Mistakes in that will be a harsh penalty to your grade. It helps if you write down notes and ideas when starting a paper or writing assignment so you can keep yourself on track with what the teacher expects from the paper.

Remember, this high school knowledge you used to climb the rugs of the education latter got you this far. Keep using the knowledge you’ve learned and continue climbing up. It won’t be easy, but retaining this writing advice is the best place you can start for your path to success.

Being Your Own Critic

Being your own critic. It is not just about beating yourself up over small mistakes that you have made or even being the perfect editor.  It seems like such a basic and common skill but it is quite a challenge to read what you wrote and say you made a mistake.  Just like any other skill being your own critic is a skill that takes practice to master.  In writing, being your own critic plays a critical role.  There are many aspects to it too, for example, you must be able to proof read, edit mistakes, rearrange thoughts and much more.  Being able to edit and reread your paper is an easy and effective way to save your grade from careless mistakes.  With just a few simple steps you will be able to avoid losing points on your papers.

One of the easiest ways to revise your own paper is by proof reading it yourself.  Sometimes when  taking a second look at your paper you may find some sentences that do not make sense.  I cannot begin to fathom the amount of times that I had a good idea in my head but in writing look like a scrambled mess of words.  Also, you may find some common errors in spelling.  You may have used the wrong word in place of another, like, “whole and hole” or “there, their, and they’re”.  Errors like these can misconstrue your sentence or ,perhaps , even your entire paper.  Another easy way to save your paper from the plague of errors is getting someone else to proof read it.

When editing your paper you must remember a few things like who is your audience and the format of the paper.  To ease the editing process, just put yourself into your teacher’s shoes.  Think about what your teacher would like, in other words, follow the rubric.  Make sure that your paper meets the rubric’s requirements.  When rereading your paper scrutinize every little detail that has the possibility of losing points.  This is a very simple way to edit your paper.

Another easy way to self critique your paper is by creating your own checklist of proofs before your turn in your paper.  My own personal check list includes, looking over the rubric, does my paper convey my point clearly, and what grade do I think I will get on this paper.  You can add your own proofs if you feel that you are not particularly strong in one field, like quotes.  If you know you are not good at fitting quotes into your paper you know what to look for in your paper and get help to remedy it.

These are just a few things to look for in your writing.  If you follow these to heart you are most likely to do well on your essays and papers in college.  Remember your professors can either be your greatest resource or your worst nightmare, depending on how you use them.  Being your own critic is not only a writing a skill it is also a life skill.

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Follow Your Train of Thought, Don’t Lose Any Passengers!

When writing in the university setting, one important thing must be remembered: your ideas.  Any random thought or blurb of a factoid found in your research could build a base for an impeccable paper. Professors typically don’t simply want a regurgitation of facts from a text, they want your interpretations or opinions, any connection that you make while you research should be included in your paper. Keeping track of your thoughts and writing them down or storing them in some fashion can create a repertoire of themes to fill space in your paper.

College writing requires far more planning than high school writing, there’s no more room for papers written on the way to class or the morning of, a professor can sniff out a scrapped together paper in an instant. A lot of classes will place emphasis on planning your ideas and arguments, and even if you decide to procrastinate on the actual writing you can really boost yourself by brainstorming and putting those ideas on sticky notes or sending yourself a text message that briefly outlines your ideas. Just carry around a pad of sticky notes in your binder, as ideas come they can be written down and later stuck to a dorm wall as a story board. Then when it comes time to write and that train of thought gets lost, all that is necessary is to grab a sticky note from the wall and voila, a new paragraph can be constructed . Sending texts of brilliant random thoughts is the modern generation’s answer to the planning conundrum. In an age where cell phones are rarely more than an arm’s length away, what better way to keep track of a sudden stroke of genius whilst sitting in the dining hall or working out on a treadmill?

During the research process, or even just sitting in class, interesting interpretations and questions come to mind. If these phrases are written down they can later feed into a paper, which can also impress a professor by proving that their students actually do pay attention during lecture.  Often times when a big paper is impending you begin to notice how many things in everyday life can actually relate to the topic that you have to spend several pages on. As you begin to relate the material to your topic, write down the reason that the thought came to mind as well as the thought itself.

Keeping track of thoughts along the way will really help you the night before that paper is due and you realize that you’re a page short on material or the week before you need to turn in a draft  and you have no idea how to narrow down your topic. Rather than pull a piece of fluff out of thin air; you can pull a genuinely intelligent thought of your own off of the wall or out of your phone. All in all, writing in college is about maintaining your train of thought and ensuring that you make it to the destination without losing any thoughts/passengers along the way.

High school vs. College Writing

Think back, if you will, to your high school English classes; remember how your teachers used to say “Oh, you’ll need to know this for when you get to college!” or “Let me tell you, college writing is not going to be this easy!”. Well I would like to put those misconceptions to rest for you, ease your mind a little.

You may not feel it yet, but at some point during your first semester you will become stressed out of your mind. What I aim to do is calm you down, let you know that everything is gonna be fine! Well maybe not literally, but once you read what I have to say, you won’t be nearly as worried about writing in the University setting. The most important thing for you to remember is that your English 150 professor knows that you will likely not know what you are doing. believe it or not, your teachers during your first semester of your freshman year are indeed aware that you are a FRESHMAN! This does not mean that they will go easy on you, but they will be a little more patient from the start; being less harsh when it comes to grading at the beginning of the semester, more willing to work with you on whatever concepts you do not understand so you may grasp them sooner.The main differences between high school and college writing are that in college: your papers will be one to two pages longer than high school, and the focus is more on how you go about organizing your paper. Structure is key and remaining on point will get you far in college writing assignments.

There are many reasons why it would be beneficial to understand the similarities between what you’ve written and what you will be writing. One being that you will be less stressed; you have enough on your plate already, what with finding your way around Farmville, meeting new people, and not to mention whatever difficult classes you may be taking this semester. Reducing stress is a very good thing, especially because the less stressed you are, the better you will perform in and out of class. You will be able to spend more time assimilating into your new environment and less time holed up in the library wondering what is expected of you.

For English assignments you will want to know as much as possible about MLA format; now, if your high school experience was anything like mine, your teachers will have tried to cram into your brain as much as possible about what MLA formatting looks like, and how to execute it properly. So I’ll leave it to another section to jog your memory. Another vital piece of information I can give you about writing papers here at Longwood is that when you are given an assignment that requires a certain amount of pages or words, do not even think about writing more than required. When you write more than needed you tend to ramble on, repeating yourself and oddly enough, it will be penalized by whoever grades it. Professors are very particular about not having to read more than they have to, especially if it is repetition; so do yourself a favor and keep somewhere in the middle of your page/word number directions, you don’t want to be penalized for doing extra work!

I wish you the best of luck in your first semester here at Longwood and don’t forget that your professors want you to succeed, just like they did in High school!

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The Bright Side of the Perfect Essay

Welcome freshmen, you’ve  finally made it. College is everything you could of imagined and more. Having complete freedom for the first time in your lives is exciting and all, but it comes with responsibilities and knowing how to manage the responsibilities is the tricky part. First and for most, college is about getting an education, to do so staying organized and being proactive is a must. The foundation for practically all college classes is writing. Being able to write analytically and creatively is a great first step in doing well in any class.

The freedom of college isn’t limited to social lives. Professors grant freedoms also, like the choice of essay topics. For so many years you were restricted by teachers who had to teach to curriculum’s. Essays were assigned on specific topics you had no interest in, forcing you to write words to fill a quota. No longer will you have to suffer from writing essays that are unbearable to research and write about. The freedom of choice is one you should never write without.

The hard part comes when it’s time to choose a topic. It may seem like a walk in the park to some, but even if you have an idea in mind you then have to make sure that it’s not to narrow or too broad. That being said even in college there are guidelines for essays. Professors require essays to have some of the same characteristics high school papers mandated as in, type of papers (research, argumentative, opinion, etc.) and a minimum length. With these guidelines in mind choosing a topic to fit the required guidelines can be more difficult than it seems. The most important guideline that trips up most is the length requirement. Making sure that your paper crosses the minimum number of pages means that the topic is not to narrow. Running out of subjects to write about and rambling to meat the page requirement is just as bad as turning in a final copy that is not up to par on the professors guidelines. Writing is like water; it always has the same chemical makeup but can change shapes to fit specific guidelines.

If narrow topics make it hard to meet the required length. Broad topics make essays messy with outrageous amounts of information unnecessary to the overall essay. Avoiding these circumstances can lead to a well deserved grade. To avoid narrow and broad topics, in preparation of the essay setting up a conference with your professor can help deter these problems. Other helpful options include, peer revision, and the most helpful, writing center. Out side help is radially available and easy to come by. It may seem like a lot of work for just choosing a topic but look on the bright side, the essay you will write is going to be on a topic that you enjoy.

College is tailored around writing. Having the skills to write effectively will not just help you in class but also in the “real world”. Writing doesn’t happen automatically. There are many steps in writing an effective essay. The pre-writing stage is as important or even more important than the actual writing. Having a well formulated foundation makes the writing even easier. There is nothing worse then being half way done with an essay and realizing that the topic you have chosen won’t appropriately follow the guidelines required. Taking the time to do research on the topic chosen will save you from having to rewrite. As freshmen, English 150 is not a class you should take lightly, it will help you become a better writer, guaranteed.

CREATING AN OUTLINE

At Longwood University, every student must take a basic writing class to help prepare them for writing at colligate level. Colligate writing is different from high school because students must elaborate on their topic instead of just scratching the surface of the topic. when writing in depth on a topic it requires that the writer is knowledgeable in the topic and that they plan out their paper.  One of the easiest and most effective way to plan out a paper is to create an outline because it helps save time on completing the assignment, help the writer gather their thoughts and have a more organized paper.

In order to be successful in college, students must learn how to manage time and how to get assignments done as soon as possible. One way to eliminate time on writing is having a well thought out outline. If writers have all of their ideas already on paper then when it comes to write the paper they just have to form the ideas on the outline into sentences and put in a few quotes and then they are done with the assignment. Another way that outlines save writers time is that establishes all of the major and minor points that they will elaborate on. This prevents writers from getting stuck halfway through a paper.

Gathering your thoughts before you write is important at any level in academia, but especially at the college level because of the multiple page paper assignments. In high school students can get away with not planning out an assignment since the format of their assignments is always the same, a five paragraph paper with a introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Rarely do high school students get a chance to experience different formats before attending college.   However at Longwood most papers are between five to ten pages.  When writers outline they have to decide what major and minor points they want to go in depth on. When writers do this in an outline they can figure out what kind of sources and what kind of quotes they want in their paper.

Outlining helps writers organize their thoughts in a way that makes sense. This seems easy, but in long papers where writers can have six or seven major points it can be hard. If a writer fails to properly organize their thoughts, no matter how good of points they make, the reader could get confused which will cause the writer to receive a poor grade. “If we can impose some kind of order on information, the information is easier to talk about, easier to understand, and easier to remember. If you choose a clear, recognizable pattern (for a single paragraph, and also for a whole essay), you find it easier to select details and choose transitions, and you also help your reader discover relationships that connect things, that make things seem more coherent.” (Friedlander, J. (n.d.). Principles of organization. Retrieved from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/organization.htm) Friedlander states that having a organized paper will make it easier for the writer to choose details and transitions when writing and it will help the reader to connect all of the major points that the writer states and hopefully be persuaded with the argument that the writer presents.

Incoming freshman are scared of writing in college because of the lengthy assignments and the difficulty of elaborating in-depth. But if writers take the time to create a outline they will save time on the overall assignment, have their thoughts gathered and have a more organized paper when they finish.

Revision Experiences

Finally the time has arrived for you to head off to college.  A lot of emotions are probably running through your head, such as, excitement, nervousness, and anticipation, but stay relaxed.  College writing is not as difficult as people may make it out to be, with the proper revision after each of your papers you will see a big difference in your writing.  There are resources around campus that can help you with revision, but utilizing them is a key.  It took me a while to figure out how to use the resources around campus, but once I put them to use it made a big difference in my writing.

The most helpful resource you can use around campus is the writing center, which is located  in the library.  The writing center will read a rough draft of your paper and try to lead in you in the correct direction.  The writing center will  not write your paper for you though, so do not expect them to do your work.  I heard about the writing center when I first arrived to Longwood while I was attending  New Lancer Days.  I didn’t think much of it, because I thought I would never use it.  The first paper I wrote in college was the same way I wrote in high school. I waited to the last minute and wrote the paper without planning or revising at the end, and I received a very bad grade on that paper.  The next time I had to write a paper, I took a rough draft to the writing center and had them read it for me and give me suggestions.  After I received their suggestions, I revised my paper a little and then turned the paper in.  I received a much better grade when I used the writing center as one of my resources for help around campus.

The writing center is a very big resource for help when revising your paper, but it is not the only one you should use.  To have a successful paper you must revise your paper more than once.  Another resource you can use is a friend in the same class or that has taken the writing class, or you can request a tutor for your class.  After you write your paper you can take the paper to a friend or tutor and have them read over your paper.  You can do this before you go to the writing center or after.  Having input from a couple different resources can help you in writing your papers.  Like I said earlier, once I finally utilized one of my resources around campus, I started to use others.  I asked a friend and later on received a tutor, and asked the two of them to read over one of my papers and tell me their suggestions.  I did this and used the writing center as well, and received the my highest grade on a writing assignment so far.

Many incoming freshmen come in with the idea that college writing is overpowering and can not be conquered, but without the proper use of your resources around campus, it can turn in to something that is difficult.  The resources are there for students to use, why would you no take advantage of this opportunity.  It took me receiving a bad grade to finally utilize these resources.  You do not have to make the same mistakes as me, use the your resources on the first paper you write, rather than receiving a bad grade.  These resources are not hard to location, you just simply go to the library for the writing center, ask a friend, or request for a tutor.  I have used these techniques on almost all of my papers since I received my bad grade, and have received a higher grade on each one of my papers.  So do not be nervous when it comes to college writing, you have resources around you to help, you just have to take advantage of these resources.

 

 

Read a Little, Write a lot

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.

Practice Post

I’m very happy to be here at Longwood University.

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