How to Write a College Paper. Top 3 Mistakes

writing college paper

As soon as students receive their first task to write a college paper, they start panicky surfing the Internet and reading dozens of articles on how to write an essay. Because there’s an abundance of different “how to” guides, we’ve decided to help you and share some college essay tips on “how NOT to.” Forewarned is forearmed, so read on.

Don’t use non-scholarly sources

There’s no problem in using Wikipedia if you want to learn height, filmography, eye color, and marital status of your favorite Hollywood actor, but don’t you dare using it while conducting an academic research. When it comes to finding reliable statistics, also avoid generic news sites. They normally publish opinion articles or amateur posts and are rarely proofread.

What to do if you’ve found some brilliant statistics on, let’s say, CNN? In this case, try to find the original source of information and use it in your paper. Scroll the page down and check out the links.

One of the safest ways to avoid unreliable sources is visiting the sites which have *.org, *.edu, or *.gov in their links. Plus, use your school libraries. Their online databases have thousands of awesome articles on any topic you like. Such articles are always peer-reviewed and you can filter them by timeframe and download PDFs.

Stop using non-existent formats

Struggling with formats is a common thing among students. Just learn them once and for all, and stop driving your professors crazy. I understand no one taught you this in high school, but proper formatting is something you must know. So, if you are looking for college essay tips, start by reading about the formats. The most frequently used ones are APA, MLA, and Harvard citation styles (go to the Purdue OWL website for a detailed guide), but sometimes teachers have their own requirements, in which case they will send you the manuals. READ them! Formatting cannot be ignored. It influences your mark a lot. If you have written a brilliant paper but turned a blind eye on formatting, expect your professor to be really mad.

No bla bla bla

Of course, you have to meet the word count requirements. Some topics may seem pretty obvious and you may feel like you can express your opinion with as many as two sentences. Many students resort to using filler content to increase the number of words. Do not do that. Professors are experienced people, they have an eye for all such things, and this is not the best way to outwit them.

Instead, do some research to support your argument: use statistics, draw comparisons, and illustrate your point of view with some examples. It will not only help you write those three pages but will also make you sound professional.

And the last things you shouldn’t do. Never use first person in academic writing, don’t ignore the grading rubrics, and don’t hand in an essay that has not been proofread. Follow these rules and essay writing will bring you both satisfaction and excellent grades.