Thursday, June 4, 2009

Writing Essays Is Essential To Your Academic Wellbeing

Essays are the bed-rock of most university classes and courses these days, and even traditional science-based courses require its students to have some form of verbal dexterity.

As well, you're probably going to encounter any number of courses that unrelated to your major over the course of your study; so even if you're a Chemistry major, chances are there is a History of Mathematics philosophy course, or a Introduction to World Religions course, figuring brightly sometime in your future.

And all these courses cumulatively add up in your GPA, and it's absolutely not worth it to flunk or gain a barely passing grade in that course only to have it adversely affect the rest of your GPA.

Your professors will appreciate the fact that you're able to articulate your thoughts in a manner that's befitting a scholar, and trust us on this... you'll want to keep your professors happy.

In the long run, as well, learning how to write a good academic essay is like riding a bike with the training wheels on. Once those training wheels come off, you'll be able to ride a bike through any terrain without much hassle, as you've already learned and mastered the basics.
Consider the skills of writing an academic essay your basic bike riding skills - the training wheels come off, you go off into the big bad Adult World of Work and Responsibilities, and you find that you're able to write well, no matter what the circumstance - and get promoted ahead of the other buffoons who send wrongly-worded emails to their clients and cost their employers tons of money.

Well... it may not be that gratifyingly dramatic, but it could be!

For those of you who are just beginning your academic careers, here are some tips that might help you to survive. These are handy not just for general survival, but also apply specifically for academic essay writing:

- First of all, keep up with your reading and go to class. You can't hope to be part of a conversation if you are absent from it.

- Pay attention not only to what others are saying, but also to how they are saying it. Notice that sound arguments are never made without evidence.

- Don't confuse evidence, assumption, and opinion. Evidence is something that you can prove. Assumption is something that one can safely infer from the evidence at hand. Opinion is your own particular interpretation of the evidence.

- Pay attention to the requirements of an assignment. When asked for evidence, don't offer opinion. When asked for your opinion, don't simply present the facts. Too often students write summary when they are asked to write analysis. The assignment will cue you as to how to respond.

- Familiarize yourself with new language. Every discipline has its own jargon. While you will want to avoid unnecessary use of jargon in your own writing, you will want to be sure before you write that you have a clear understanding of important concepts and terms.

- Don't make the mistake of thinking that because something is in print it has cornered the market on truth. Your own interpretation of a text might be just as valid (or even more valid) than something you've found in the library or on the internet. Be critical of what you read, and have confidence that you might say as much.

- Pay attention to standards and rules. Your professors will expect you to write carefully and clearly. They will expect your work to be free of errors in grammar and style. They will expect you to follow the rules for citing sources and to turn in work that is indeed your own. If you have a question about a professor's standards, ask. You will find that your professors are eager to help you.

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