♦ Photo copyright Nikki Morse, Wharton HS ♦
If you’re a high school student who is looking for ways to improve your writing skills before college or a college student who wants to write better for assignments, there are ways to do just that. What can you do that might improve your writing and maybe even help you feel more confident when faced with a tough assignment? Even math majors need to pass general ed coursework so it’s best to find out how to write well from the start. Here are 4 strategies strategies that may help you improve your writing . . .
1) Set Deadlines. If you’re a high school or college student, you have assignment deadlines. One important way to help your writing is to avoid procrastination. If your paper is due in three weeks, come up with a writing schedule. Include times you will spend researching, writing, proofreading, and rewriting. Then stick to the schedule. Jot your writing times down in your planner. If you prefer technology instead, use an app like Google calendar and set reminders.
2) Use the proper style guide. If your professor wants your paper completed in MLA style, do so. Get a copy of a style guide book like The MLA Style Manual or head online to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab. Then follow the guidelines. Don’t wait until the night before your paper is due to format it. You’ll avoid unnecessary stress by giving yourself a few days to format your paper properly.
3) Save your work. It is important to save your paper as you write it. Better yet, back it up, too. If you use an online storage site like Dropbox and your computer crashes, you can access your paper from another computer or mobile device. All it takes is one time of losing 3-4 pages of a paper to figure out how important this step is. Don’t feel the need to live and learn.
4) Keep up with class readings. You should be reading as you go along. When the time comes to pick a paper topic or thesis, you’ll have a firm grasp on the assignment. If you wait until the morning of your literature class to skim the readings, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Reading as go should assist you in comprehending more complex arguments. Plus, there’s always that class participation grade to consider.
5) Ask for help. If you find yourself struggling to nail down an amazing thesis, it’s a good time to ask for help. If your college has a writing center, make an appointment. Because you didn’t wait until the last minute, you’ll have time to meet with an expert and see what he or she has to say. Another option is to speak with your teacher or professor. If you’re in college, your professor typically has office hours. Make use of them. Drop by, introduce yourself, and explain what you are having difficulties with. If you’re in high school, your teacher will probably be impressed that you took the time to ask for help. Again, do not wait until the class before your paper is due to speak up.
Writing doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you get started on your assignment as soon as possible after receiving it. By giving yourself enough time to knock out a great rough draft and then rework it, you could be helping yourself earn a better grade. Writing is a process of researching, editing, staying within the guidelines, and following directions. By organizing your work and your time, you should find writing easier than if you “forget” about deadlines until it’s too late to do a good job on your assignment.
About this Guest Contributor: Pamela Rossow is a freelance writer who works with higher education clients such as Elearners. She is a native South Floridian who enjoys photography, literature, and hockey. You can follow her on Google+.