Seph’s Survival Guide to College Living – Climbing Mt. Essay

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The dreaded report, killer of many highs and father of your stress. Every class wants at least one or two, and every professor expects top-notch, professionally quality work from all students. For some of us, this is an insurmountable challenge, whether out of a lack of skill or too much on your plate already.

But before you resign yourself to a solid D on that pending report, let a natural pro on the subject say his piece. As a child, I was that weird kid who stayed inside during recess to read books. I was reading on the weekends and devouring pages during the summer. As a result, writing comes to me as naturally as breathing, and I consistently get decent scores on reports without really trying.

I’m gonna list a few tips and tricks that I’ve come across to get that report up to snuff. I bet that an A+ report would look swanky to any future employer, especially if you’re interested in media.

Description Expansion. As we all know, the basis for any essay is an introduction paragraph, three bodies, and a conclusion. That can be a lot of writing, but only end up being a page or two when the professor wants six. Therefore, try to engage in description as much as possible. Take the following paragraph for example:

There was a white house on the hill. Three children walked up to the house. The old man who lived there leaned out of the window. He shouted, “Get off my property!” The children got scared and ran away.

This paragraph could be the description of a story, written in your own words. It describes the situation in a fair and comprehensive way, but it could be much, much longer. Let’s try this again, this time using some description to plump it out a bit:

Sat upon the crest of a bleak hill, the hulk of a house stood a bleak white against the overcast skies. A trio of youngsters gazed up at the alabaster building as they ascended the pathway, their eyes filled with trepidation and excitement of the unknown before them. Suddenly, a dark window flew open, shutters clattering against the snowy siding like a rumble of thunder. A grizzled old man leaned out of the portal, shaking his fist in apoplectic rage, spittle flying from his lips as he cursed the small intruders, his words of disgust dashing upon their tender ears with the sharpness of blades. Frightened, the children spilled from the property in sheer panic, sprinting back to the safety of their homes.

As you can see, though not much has changed, by adding a few descriptions to what you already have, you can take a short paragraph and turn it into a proper, professional paragraph with relative ease. And make sure not to repeat the same adjectives in the same paragraph, as it gets repetitive quickly.

Professional Keywords. As you write your different essays and reports, you begin to pick up on the various keywords that professors like to see. As a tip, you don’t need to know how to write the perfect essay, all you need to know is how to make it look like you do. Here are a few choice words that are guaranteed to catch the eye:

  • Adjectives ending in -ly Thusly, firstly, suddenly.
  • Capitalized Proper Nouns Nothing looks less professional than a lowercase name.
  • Oxford Comma That’s the extra comma before the last item in a list.

Format Last. Most professors want a double-spaced document, Times New Roman size 14. This allows them to make corrections and edits more easily, but at the same time, I personally feel that it stifles your creativity. Therefore, my suggestion is not to format the essay until after you’ve finished writing it. It’s a small difference, but you tend to feel like you’ve written a lot when you haven’t actually written much at all. If you write single-spaced, and type up two pages, that ends up being a nice four page document when you format it.

Experiment a bit, see what works for you. Give your report to someone else and have them read a bit, to make sure that it flows well and feels interesting. And don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!