Do your University Essays say something about you?

February 12th, 2009
By Jon H
Do your University Essays say something about you?

When you’re writing your first university essay you’ll generally not really understand how you write and what you will need to add to your essay to make it award-winning great. I looked at an essay the other day, which I wrote at the start of my very first year at university, and I look back with shame questions – why was I so naive and why did I write so badly?

The main answers to these questions come from my lack of confidence and that I didn’t understand my own writing ability – I also didn’t understand that I needed to use my own perspective on theories and understanding, and not flood the paper with quote after quote. I didn’t know anything better and learnt a number of years later how to write great essays in a matter of no time, and these were all to a high standard and received high grades.

Learn to Develop Your Own Academic Writing

When you’re at school, may teachers will encourage you to write in one style and format that suits them, they’ll also urge you not to have your own thoughts because ‘what the book says is correct’. This is true when you look at exams being taken by teenagers, I’d argue that they’re not learning as much as they should, and they’re negatively affecting their chances of succeeding at university.

It is going to take you time to build up your own way of writing and will probably take you the good part of one academic year, reading a number of university writing tips, books and internet resources for inspiration. You need to learn to write in a style that will allow your reader to understand all of the points you are making, but also be able to draw on the number of sources you’ve included. This is something that you will need to concentrate on though all of your undergraduate essays and fit in your strategy to meet with other university requirements within your institution.

Undergraduate Essays

An undergraduate essay will be something that you may consider strange at first, you’ve come from college and are writing in a style that you are comfortable with. You come to university to study towards a degree that you hope to graduate from in 3, 4, 5 or more years; this is obviously dependent on the time that is specified for completion of the degree and usually dependent on the subject of the course and possibly a year out.

Then, when you get down to writing your first undergraduate essay, you are confused by the amount of different things you have to do. You stumble around and finally submit your essay. You may be someone who gets it right first time, but, if you’re like me you fail miserably and just get a 35% pass on your first essay. There are loads of marks on the essay and you’re all confused – after all, you thought you did a good job. Essentially though, it’s all about the style of your writing, where you can add your own unique writing ability to make it easier on the reader. Once you are settled and understand how you write, you should be able to influence your writing ability and then, be able to get higher grades for your academic work.

University Essay Question

When you are writing in your own style of academic writing you may become confused when you’re placed in an area that you don’t know, whether it be through an essay question or other resource. It could be that the question asks you to critically evaluate one thing against another, when you have commonly only been writing on a discussion between the two. Some of the words used in essay questions can become a little confusing and intimidating – I used to have to look up some of the words in a dictionary and even ask the subject lecturer what the hell the question meant. Don’t be frightened of not knowing what you need to do to answer a question and submit a great essay, as you will not be able to understand how your writing will shape if you’re not confident about where you’re going to end up.

Using the question that you have chosen (or have been set) should be a starting point for you to write an essay in your own style, and on your own terms. Having a clear understanding of what your actual finishing point is, is a must. To write well during your time at an academic institution, you will need to understand your own writing well and also be able to communicate your style, understanding and argument to the reader in a well structured and coherent argument. If you haven’t a clue what the essay question means then this will be quite a hard task.

Overall, you’re going to want to try some trial and error to see what works for you. The academic essays that you are writing on your degree course at university, are for your degree at the end of the day; so, you should be motivated to ensuring that when someone reads your work, they cannot only understand what you have written, but they can recognise that this has been written by a student who has uniqueness in their writing and therefore, knows how to communicate through written academic work.

It could take you a considerably longer time to conquer this, and for me, I didn’t become good at essays until my final year; I had a reality check in my year in industry. The main thing that you should get from this, is to read the university study tips that you see, but mould them into your own style of writing.

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