College Essays 101: Tips To Make Freshman Writing Easier

So you did it: you graduated high school and have been accepted to a university, an achievement that you’ve been both eagerly anticipating and dreading in equal measures. The transition from high school to university life can be daunting and as you’ve probably already learned will involve a lot of writing. For many classes, essays are the bread and butter of weekly assignments. Here are a few writing tips for writing your essay.

Know Your Subject

I know this sounds like an obvious one but never underestimate the importance of knowing your subject. Flashy words might go far to pad out your writing, but ultimately your professor is looking for quality: do you know what your talking about? Depending on the assignment you might have a lot of choice in the subject matter or no choice at all.

Pick Your Own Topic

If your allowed to pick your own topic, you’ve got the upper hand. More than likely you will already have a reasonable enough idea of what your going to be writing about. But there are still important factors to take into consideration.

  • Start with a broad topic.
  • Check textbook for information relating to the subject.
  • If possible use university provided database for research (Sometimes required).
  • Do basic research into the broad topic.
  • Narrow down the topic.
  • Research and find academic sources (school-database, text book, .gov, .edu, etc).
  • Begin pre-writing.

Always try to start with a broad topic if you have the choice. This will enable you to do some basic background research into the subject, which will give you that extra edge while writing the paper proper. You can then narrow down the subject based on the information you acquire as necessary. Once you have a more narrowed subject, that’s when you should start looking for direct academic sources and begin your pre-writing. Sometimes universities will provide a school database with reliable sources. This is always a good place to check first and depending on the assignment can be a requirement, so don’t forget to check for special instructions.

Writing About An Assigned Topic

More than likely you’ve already had assignments like this… The professor gives you a subject and expects you to deliver with factual and up-to-date information. On the plus side, you already know what your going to be researching. On the downside, that might mean a lot more work on your side if that’s not a subject you are already familiar with.

  • Check your textbook for any information on the subject.
  • Do a basic search to familiarize with the subject.
  • If possible, use university-provided databases for sources (Sometimes required).
  • Begin formatting the layout of the paper based on the information you find.

Usually when a professor assigns a subject, the first place you should check is the textbook. If you can’t find information there or need additional information then you can begin performing some basic background research. Remember, a lot of academic writing is to focus on critical thinking abilities. But don’t be afraid to ask your professor for help if your unable to find quality sources.

2. Always Check The Style Guide

I cannot emphasize this enough; always check the style guide. Unlike high schools, colleges tend to give a lot more power to their professors. Often times, this means that each individual professor has a lot more control over his own class curriculum and assignments. It is almost always a good idea to check the style guide before you even start planning an essay. Depending on what classes your taking this can include familiarizing yourself with different formatting techniques that you may or may not have been exposed to during high school. Formats like APA for example have very specific requirements in the organization of your essay and what information is or is not relevant. Don’t be that one student that writes his or her entire essay only to rewrite everything because they skipped out on reading the format requirements.

3. Writing Your Essay: Time Management

For a lot of new students college can be an exciting time. Often your not just studying but working jobs and learning how to live on your own. One of the big hurdles is going to be time management. You need to have a schedule that you need to stick to. Whenever you have an essay assigned to you, it’s always a good idea to log the date the assignment was given and the due date on a calendar and to check these dates frequently. Plan ahead what days and what times your going to set aside for essays and keep these dates organized. Consistent and steady work is more apt to be quality than an assignment you rush at the last minute.

A Few Final Thoughts To Consider

If you can write a college application then writing a college essay shouldn’t be too much trouble. Don’t forget that you were accepted to these universities because you can succeed. For additional help, feel free to ask your professors or to consult other online resources such as Rapid Essay. Rapid Essay is free to use online tool that can provide you with tips on how to improve your essay writing abilities. They also offer a free formatting service for title pages and bibliographies. For a small fee, they even provide a high-quality essay writing service. Check out their website for additional information at

Good luck with your writing and good luck with college!

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