How To Write A College Essay

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An essay is a piece of writing written to convince someone of something or inform someone about a particular topic. For the reader to be adequately informed, the paper must include several important components to flow logically. In a standard short essay, five paragraphs can provide the reader with enough information. For a research paper or dissertation, more than five paragraphs will suffice. This is to ensure that the reader is not overwhelmed with so much information in only five sections. Research papers are detailed and may run up to 60 pages or more depending on the level of education and its purpose.

Short essays are given to examine one or two concepts and are not more than 500 words, excluding references. 

Long essays such as research papers are more extended, and they discuss a topic broadly and in-depth. From the start, a reader should be able to deduce the essay's intention. Therefore, a student should always introduce the thesis in the introduction section, followed by the hypothesis if need be. 

College essays are a fundamental part of any student, and in that regard, they must learn the dos and don'ts of a great essay. Regardless of the kind of essay one is writing, fundamental rules must be followed for full credit. This essay will attempt to address how to write an exemplary essay while also highlighting the mistakes most students make in writing college essays. 

The following are vital elements of any great college essay. 

Elements of an Essay

Introduction; this is the opening of the essay. It informs the reader about the paper's topic and states the writer's opinion or stance about the said topic. Usually, an introduction starts broad and narrows down to a specific topic, ending in the thesis. This is an opportunity to establish why a reader might be curious about the general topic. A great introduction entails:

  • It must contain an attention grabber for the reader or at least make the essay sound interesting, may begin with a quote about the particular topic.

  •  The introduction must move from the general to the specific in regards to the topic. 

  •  Provides the reader with a road map of the essay in a logical order. 

  • In the end, there should be a thesis statement, arguably the most important component of the introduction.

  • The thesis statement states the paper's aim and may give insight into the writer's examples and evidence.   

What is a thesis statement?

Thesis statement is one or two sentences encapsulation of the essay's main point, main idea, or central message: the introduction should end with a clear, specific thesis statement that will tell the readers what the writer will be arguing. Each body paragraph will directly support the thesis. 

The thesis needs to be short and precise. Introducing ambiguity in the thesis statement may confuse the reader resulting in a lower quality write-up. The thesis statement will act as a guide in controlling ideas within the essay; it is, therefore, vital that a student writes a thesis statement that best describes the paper's intentions.

It may be hard at first but with practice, writing a good thesis becomes easier. 

Body paragraphs; body paragraphs are the middle paragraphs that lie between the introduction and conclusion. They represent distinct logical steps within the whole argument: an essay usually has at least three body paragraphs. These will be the arguments, evidence, or topics that support the thesis. The body includes the evidence and support of the paper in addition to the writer's ideas. Paragraphs must consist of a topic sentence that relates the discussion to the thesis statement—ensuring that the transition sentences are present to create an excellent flow to the essay and concrete examples and evidence to support the argument. Each illustration must be relevant to the topic. 

Short essays often have five standard paragraphs, but more extended essays will have more than five paragraphs. In fact, they may have subtopics in between them depending on the format a student takes. Regardless of the essay's length, it should remain relevant to the essay's topic. As a topic may be broad, students may identify main points and their summary before writing the main paper. This is important and helps in aligning topic points chronologically. An essay's flow of information is vital. 

Topic sentences: each body paragraph will begin with a topic sentence that introduces its topic. All of the information in that paragraph will be clearly and logically related to the topic sentence, which, in turn, should relate to the thesis. Topic sentences are like paragraph 

Transitions: an effective essay will show the connection between the paragraphs with transitions. These can be the final sentence of each body paragraph that can be integrated into the next topic sentence with transitional words. 

Conclusion:  a conclusion should wrap up an essay and should not introduce new information or arguments. It should begin with a sentence that looks like the thesis to summarize the essay's general points as a whole. It should restate the main statements in a simplified manner. 

A student should ensure the reader is left with something to think about, mainly an argumentative essay. Also, allowing time to write the first draft of the essay and proofreading results in a great essay.     

Essay Structure     

Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. This is because essays are essentially linear-they offer one idea at a time-they must present their ideas in the order that makes the most sense to a reader. 

Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic. A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. 

Short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counter arguments, and concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places. Counter Arguments appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as a part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material such as historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, and the definition of a key term often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it is relevant.

The first question to anticipate from a reader is what evidence shows that the thesis's phenomenon is true? To answer the question, one must examine whether their evidence is backed up, thus demonstrating the truth of the claim. This section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. 

Since one is essentially reporting what they have observed, this is the part one might have most to say about when they first start writing; it should not take up more than a third of the whole essay. If it takes more than a third of the entire essay, it will lack balance and may read as a mere summary or description.

Why? A reader may want to know why the interpretation of a phenomenon matters to anyone besides the writer. This question addresses the larger implications of one's thesis. It allows a reader to understand the essay within a larger context.

Mapping an essay 

Structuring one's essay according to a reader's logic means examining the thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know and in what sequence to grasp and be convinced by one's argument as it unfolds. Mapping an essay's ideas will give a preliminary record of ideas and understanding of their arguments. Essays mapping allows one to predict when a reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to the secondary source material.

Types of college essays

  1. Descriptive Essay. A descriptive essay is an essay that describes something, an object or person, an event or place, an experience or emotion, or an idea. This kind of essay aims to provide readers with enough detailed descriptions to be able to picture or imagine the chosen topic. 

In essence, descriptive essays aim to examine a student's ability to describe experiences. Descriptive essays are comprehensive and also test a student's creative side. This essay is best written with descriptive words that emulate the exact experience or object in evaluation. They should be able to create an image in a reader's mind and to accomplish this; there needs to be a good flow of information and the use of simple language. 

  1. Narrative Essay. A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, it is a story about a personal experience one had. It tests the ability to express the experience creatively and compellingly and to follow an appropriate narrative structure.   

Like descriptive essays, narrative essays aim to unlock the student's levels of logical descriptions and logical flow of ideas. 

  1. Expository Essay. This is a genre of essay that requires a student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea clearly and concisely. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, cause and effect analysis, etcetera.  

These essays require a student to thoroughly evaluate the concepts understudy to develop the essay's body paragraphs effectively. For instance, in the compare and comparison type of essays, a student must read and understand the two data sets before evaluation. 

Such write-ups aim to measure a student's understanding of a topic or test their ability to comprehend and analyze data sets. 

  1. Persuasive Essay.  It consists of all the persuasive techniques a writer can employ. It presents a situation and takes a stand -either in its favor or against it to prove to readers whether it is beneficial or harmful for them.

The best way to explain a persuasive essay is in a child begging their mother for candy. In this example, the child has to use straightforward language to get what they want. This is the same way you should picture a persuasive essay. You are trying to convince someone that your perception is correct and that they should change their point of view. 

In entirely writing an exemplary persuasive essay, students should aim to use evidence and statistics where applicable. 

  1. Argumentative Essay. This essay uses facts and evidence to support an argument rather than just the writer's thoughts and opinions. 

Look at argumentative essays as a debate session. In this setup, both parties involved need to be factual to win their case as ideas alone cannot substantiate the argument. 

The difference between a debate and an essay is that one must be jotted down on paper on convincing and straightforward language. 

  1. Analytical Essay. Analytical implies the breaking down of something into parts or the discussion of something so that it becomes a dissection of the whole. An analytic type of essay differs from the other types of essays in that its primary goal is to explain something bit by bit to enhance understanding. In literature, it is a critical analysis of some literary text to improve its knowledge to a reader. An analytical essay also differs from a critical essay; a critical essay involves not only an analysis of the text in question but also explains the functions of the literary terms used and evaluates their usage and whether they have achieved the intended purposes or not. The following are types of analytical essays: 

  • Cause and effect. One way of analyzing something is to discuss the cause of something and its impact on other things.

  • Comparison and contrast. Another way of analyzing something is to compare and contrast things among themselves.

  • Classification. This is yet another method of analyzing things about their nature.

  • Process. This is also another way of analyzing writing.

  • Definition. Defining things is also a way of analyzing the nature of things.   

In conclusion, an essay is a short piece of writing on a particular subject. A great college essay comprises of the following component:

  1. Introduction: must contain an attention grabber for the reader or at least make the essay sound interesting, may begin with a quote about the particular topic.   

  2. Body: includes the evidence and support of the paper in addition to the writer's ideas. 

  3. Conclusion. This section should wrap up all of the arguments and points. Should restate the main arguments in a simplified manner.

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