Tips For Writing a University-Level Essay

When you take the bold step to commence a university undergraduate course you are moving into a new realm of education, which in turn requires you to deliver a new level of academic work. This will involve giving presentations, completing research and writing university level essays. In order to meet the requirements of these essays there are a number of tips that you should follow which should set you on the track to academic success.

Firstly, remember that university essays should be well researched and contain lots of supporting evidence in terms of other people’s previous findings. This supporting evidence could be in the form of a literature review or just quoting others’ work throughout your essay. Any references to other resources must be credited appropriately. Be sure to follow your university’s specific guidelines in this respect as valuable marks can potentially be lost just by not applying the correct referencing method, or by applying the right method incorrectly. It may pay to familiarise yourself with whichever style your university uses, before you even begin writing. A common referencing style is the Harvard system of referencing which has very strict rules about crediting authors, research papers and journals etcetera but your University should be able to provide you with tailored guidance.

Secondly, a university level essay should try to delve deeper than a college level essay necessarily would. It should stretch and question theories and allow you to add your own knowledge and opinions in order to draw conclusions, some of which may never have been drawn before. This means you can’t just recite your lecture notes, there must be some individual application of knowledge, and this is a challenge that many new undergraduates struggle with.

As with all essays a university level essay should have a sound introduction, a thorough research and analysis section and sound conclusions. This should then be followed by a full reference list and a bibliography. Within all of these elements you should make sure that you format your work according to your university guidelines, this is good practice for when you come to writing your dissertation, as correct formatting and adherence to style guidelines could mean the difference between a first and a 2:1, in the same way, any essay, whether written at university or college should be proofread, preferably by a third party, to ensure that it is free from any spelling or grammar mistakes. Following all of these tips will allow your university level essays to achieve the grades you deserve and give you a good foundation for when it comes to writing your dissertation.

7 College Essay Writing Tips to Blow Their Socks Off!

1. Write your college application essay before your senior year begins. Senior year is very busy, and you don’t need another distraction from concentrating on what’s more important: your studies. Get it brainstormed, drafted, corrected and finally written before September 1.

2. Find a topic that you know better than anyone. For example, you’re a dancer because you use dance as a way to express with your body what you cannot express with your vocal cords. Who knows the language of your body better than you do? Who knows more about what you say with your dance than you do? You’re the expert, which is why it’ll be a whole lot easier for you to communicate what you want to say. Read: your essay can be one easy task!

3. Keep it simple. By way of illustration, let’s say you’re standing on a street corner and you witness a car crash in front of you; you were the only one who witnessed the crash, and the police have asked you to write a description of what you saw. Why did the police ask you? Because they know you are the expert in what you experienced in that brief moment of the car crash. You could write about a brief moment in your life that had some positive impact on you because you are the expert on how that moment affected you. Keeping it simple also means using simple words, so throw away the thesaurus.

4. Make your first statement of the essay the most powerful. Readers in a college admissions office believe 80% of the essays they read are a waste of time. So make your first statement a “hook” – a pleasant surprise that catches their attention from the get-go. Here are some example first-sentences of what some of my students wrote last year:

“I was suddenly surrounded by rifles pointing at me.” (theme: paintball) “It was clear that I was completely cut off from civilization.” (theme: wilderness hiking) “I had nowhere to go but down.” (theme: overachieving) “Pain was a requirement for me to succeed.” (theme: dancing/ballet)

5. Read your essay out loud. Besides your eyes use your ears to hear what you’re saying. Reading out loud gives you another sense of how the essay is moving, and you’ll be able to tell if it sounds right or needs improvement. Then get friends and family members to read and listen to what you’re saying. Ask for comments and suggestions.

6. Essays should be no longer than 500 words. Give the admissions reader another reason to LOVE you – keep it shorter than 500 words. The 500-word limit has been a standard for years, and the Common App now allows you to write more than 500 words. With short attention spans in a college admissions office, do you think colleges are excited that the Common App allows you to write more than they want to read? Less is more, or quality beats quantity every time.

7. Keep your essay upbeat and positive. My favorite college essay requirement comes from the College of William & Mary: “Surprise us!” What they’re asking you to do is write something that’s positive. Why? Like most colleges they’re so used to reading the seven deadly topics they don’t like: divorce, disabilities, death, dysfunctional behavior, trips, sports injuries, and boyfriend/girlfriend breakups. Not to write about these topics would be a huge surprise.