Constructing an Essay

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 at this time. 

The solution? Teach them how to organize, articulate, and be proud of the thoughts they take time to place on paper. Give them a strategy other than staring at a word processor and writing what comes to mind. Start with the foundation, the thesis statement. Move on to the frame, the topic sentences. Teach them how to plaster the walls with textual support, outside sources, and personal insight. Remind them that grammar is the paint on the walls. You wont sell the house with ugly grammar, but at least it won't fall down on you. In a few hours, you can teach them how to give their teachers a well thought out, if not yet well written, argument. The teacher will appreciate it, and the rest will fall into place.  


Ethan M.

Experienced English and History Tutor

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