Now that the school year has officially begun and future residents of our new student apartments in Austin are getting into the thick of all their assignments, we thought we’d offer some neighborly advice for any papers you’re writing this year. Whether you’re writing a science report, a two-page reflection, or a 15-page research paper, these writing tips can help you produce work that impresses your professors, earns you good grades, and accurately represents all the hard work you put into writing it.
If you know a classmate or neighbor in your community of apartments near UT Austin who could benefit from these writing tips, go ahead and pass this post along to them! Now without further ado, let’s talk college writing tips!
Understand the Assignment
This one may seem silly to include, but sometimes, even when you think you understand an assignment, you may be missing something. Before you do any work on a paper, make sure to re-read the assignment and, if necessary, ask your professor to clarify anything that may be ambiguous or unclear about it. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache just by double-checking ahead of time, which brings us to our next tip:
We get it, it’s not always easy or even possible to start working on a paper way ahead of time. But the earlier you can start at least thinking about the paper, the better off you’ll be, especially in cases where your paper requires some research. Finishing a draft earlier than the night before (or the same day) it’s due means you can also take advantage of helpful resources like the University Writing Center (which, if you didn’t know, moved to 100% online consultations for the fall 2020 semester) or having a friend read over your paper for you.
Make An Outline
No really, make an outline. Not all papers are super complex, and not all outlines end up accurately representing the paper that will eventually emerge at the end of your writing process. Still, making an outline helps you map how you’ll develop your argument, and gives you a skeleton on top of which you can add other layers—like quotes you want to incorporate, for example. Done properly, the outline is the bridge between your brainstorming process and your actual paper. And sometimes, having that bridge can save you a lot of stumbling.
Save Your Work Often
There’s nothing worse than working for hours on a paper and then losing it all when your computer crashes. Google Docs and the newer versions of Microsoft Word will autosave for you periodically, but you should get in the habit of making sure you save every 15 minutes or so in order to ensure you never lose your work. We also recommend using a service like Google Drive or Dropbox to save your work to the cloud so that you’re not completely out of luck if your hard drive is ever rendered unreadable for some reason.
Show Your Work
We mean this in more ways than one. When it comes to laying out an argument or reporting on a project or experiment, it’s important to articulate every step of logic or process that you took along the way. If you’re not sure whether you’re leaving out a crucial step, it might be worth having someone with fresh eyes read over it for you and see whether they can understand it.
By “show your work” we also mean avoid plagiarizing. Chances are, you did a considerable amount of research in order to construct an educated argument on the subject of your paper, and citing your sources not only avoids potentially severe consequences to your grade or even your academic career, but it also proves that you did your research and have a well-informed argument.
Use The Resources Available To You
A friend or classmate who’s willing to read over your paper isn’t the only resource available to you. UT’s University Writing Center is just a few minutes from our apartments near UT Austin (though this semester you can only schedule appointments for online consultations) and it’s an invaluable resource that any student can use (as long as you’ve started working on your paper early enough to take advantage of it). Similarly, some professors may be willing to look at a draft or provide feedback on your thesis statement before you officially turn in a paper. Even professors who won’t do this are usually available in office hours to discuss how your paper is going and help you develop your argument.
Edit & Proofread
And don’t just leave it up to spell check or a service like Grammarly. First drafts are almost never perfect, so whether you’re doing the editing alone or with the help of a friend or writing center consultant, read through your whole draft at least once to make sure the argument is sound, the prose is readable, and the language isn’t bogged down by grammar or spelling errors. A great paper doesn’t just have good content, it also presents that content in a way that’s easy to read and understand.
That’s it for our college writing tips! If you’d like to see any future tips and recommendations from us in the future, make sure you bookmark our blog page for easy access to upcoming posts. Finally, if you don’t want to miss out on special promotions, community updates, and events at our apartments near UT Austin, follow us on Instagram!
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