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Statisticians say that the average person writes about 55,000 words per year. That's enough to fill a novel. This statistic measures everything from thank you notes to work emails. However, I'm sure the average college student far exceeds this number. Therefore, it's no wonder that most students I work with are seeking help with their writing. Needless to say, with such a word filled future on these students' horizon, I take this responsibility seriously.  Most students think they need to start with grammar in order to improve their writing. They are baffled by the pesky rules that spell check doesn't catch but that their teachers always find. They think that the key to their writing is unlocking the comma, semicolon, and split infinitive. However, I'd argue that unless you have the time and patience, and the student has the dedication, to teach him or her Latin (where many of these rules have been super imposed from), it will be hard for them to master grammar... read more

Transitions! They can make or break your essay. You may have some great ideas that you write down, but if you don't connect them, it's hard for your reader to follow. People forget how your ideas are interrelated, and they therefore forget your main ideas.   The point here is: DON'T try to write without transitions. Here is a list of transitions to help you keep your ideas well-organized: first next then after after that afterward finally in conclusion in summary to start with in addition additionally second third moreover furthermore    

I know how they told you to write it. Now let me tell you how it's really done. Popular misconception is that because you read a paper from start to finish, that the best way to write it is from start to finish. This is, of course, nonsense. The best way to write a thesis paper is as follows.   Write your conclusion first. That's right... the easiest way to write a 5-paragraph thesis paper is to start with your conclusions first. This is how we think, anyway. When we read about a subject,  we are thinking while we read, so that by the time we've finished reading, we already know what we think about it. Those are our conclusions about what we just read/watched/experienced. We're already there, so why not start there? When you start the conclusion you should say something specific about your topic. By then end of your conclusion, you should show how the specific nature of your topic says something large, say, about the nature of life itself. Write... read more

Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites:   Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used.   Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool site.... read more

Too many times I hear the sigh of long breaths immediately following the words "I have to write an essay."  I realized early on that I was the only one around, who did not mind the 2000 word count minimum papers. What makes it easy for me? Well,  it is not easy, but it has become easier. As a young child, I struggled to learn to read, and it was not until after high school that I began to enjoy it. The best I have found to relieve essay stress is to be fully prepared.  Read resources multiple times and be certain the resource is realivant, and breathe. Sit down at your computer with resources available. If you find yourself stuck just revisit the resource and look for inpiration. 

Always remember that if you're submitting something to your teacher/professor/employer, make sure that you check and re-check what you wrote on your essay, paper, and/or cover letters.  AutoCorrect always has a tendency to embarrass us a little.  It may THINK that it knows what we originally intended to say, but sometimes manages to screw it up.  It may be amusing when the incorrect message was sent to a friend or to Ellen because you can laugh about it, or Ellen can share it to her audience during the "thumbsy clumsy" segment of her show; however, it may not be as amusing when the mistake is in your essay/paper that you are being graded on.   So, remember after doing your spell check, have another read through of your work and have another set of eyes to read it as well to avoid mistakes and the embarrassment of having one of your words autocorrected.    

Everyone has their own approach to writing. Some writers are very methodical throughout the entire writing process while others write freely and revise their way to the final draft. For proposals and admissions essays, a structured writing process draws from the strengths of both approaches. It starts with a creative focus and concludes with deliberate writing and revision. First, with the requirements and prompt in mind, the writer lets him or herself write and think freely. Second, the writer reviews his or her own notes and ideas to identify a cohesive focal point. Next, the writer distills the ideas into a concrete thesis and engages peers, friends, family, and instructors to develop and strengthen the arguments. Finally, the writer lays out the elements that support the thesis and backs it with specific examples or anecdotes. Creative Stage. In this stage, the writer thinks and writes freely but not chaotically. It starts with a careful review of the requirements... read more

Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites:   Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used.   Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool... read more

September is right around the corner and most high school students are still daydreaming of sandy beaches, barbecues, and endless days outside of school. The best thing about summer is that it relaxes your mind and the unfortunate fact about summer sedation is that sometimes student goals remain hazy. Scholarships are offered throughout the school hiatus and students that take advantage of applying for scholarships have a better chance at receiving awards. High school seniors, as well as, juniors need to take a proactive approach to increasing the possibilities of gaining much needed financial assistance for their college educations. Many students are learning what it takes to produce a winning scholarship application or essay and many more have found that in four years their lives were supposed to be focused. Focused on what? Community service, social networking campaigns, inventions and new ideas, finding a cure for Parkinsons, job development to name a few.   I... read more

The last student I tutored was presented with what seemed like an impossible task. She was to write a speech based on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. But her speech was to include repetition of a concept, a theme, metaphors, and allusions. Tough order! So, we broke down the tasks. First we watched some videos on allusion (not to be confused with illusion!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYCdlX6y2M8 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6CHtuZsz9c. I would recommend that you start with videos for any concept that you don't fully understand. Once she watched the videos, we broke down the assignment. What else has themes, repetition, and metaphor/illusion? Songs! We decided to write a song with a chorus. The first step was to choose a topic: Dropping out of school. Bam! We have our "theme" and "concept". We chose to make it a conversation between my student and a fictional partner who was going to say things like "I'm dropping... read more

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