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Most college students learn very quickly that writing is a fundamental part of the university experience. If you take a quick glance at just about any course syllabus, you will discover that you’ll be required to write at least one or two essays over the course of the semester.

Writing is a skill that is needed not only in college, but also in the professional world. Especially in the digital age when instant communication and the written word is used almost exclusively, it’s important that you hone your writing skills in college. These writing tips and tricks can help you improve your essay writing skills, which will ultimately earn you higher scores and allow you to communicate more effectively in the future.

Review these writing tips for students and you will be uniquely prepared to take on all of those essays this fall, no matter how many words are required. Here are several great tips for improving your essay writing skills for college:

Expand Your Library

One of the simplest ways to improve your own writing style is to read. Reading frequently—whether studying or for pleasure—is an effective way to enhance the way that you write. It is important that you expand your personal library by including a variety of different book styles and genres. You should read both fiction and nonfiction texts as well as scour your textbooks and study materials. Reading is one of the most overlooked writing tips and tricks, because it doesn’t have to do with actually sitting down and putting pen to paper. However, it is one of the best ways to improve your vocabulary and increase the breadth and depth of your own work.

Make a Timeline for the Writing Process

One of the best writing tips for students is to get organized and stay that way. Writing is a process, and it’s essential that you create a timeline for any piece that you are working on. If you know that you have a term paper due in the middle of the semester, then you need to create a timeline in the early weeks of the school year so that you can be successful. Your timeline should account for the amount of time needed to research, write a first draft, proofread, make edits and complete the finished product. Typically, the timeline for writing a college essay can range from several days to several weeks, depending on the size of the paper and the amount of research required. Creating a realistic timeline early in the writing process will help you stay on track and will allow you to produce your best work.

Do Your Research and Use Top Notch Sources

The writing process begins long before you put your thesis statement on the page. Before you can start typing out your paper, you need to do thorough research on your chosen topic. Research is required for just about any type of paper, whether you are writing a persuasive piece or you are completing an in-depth research paper regarding a topic you’re passionate about. When you are in the research phase, it’s imperative that you use high-quality source material. You need to feel confident that you are referencing accurate and authentic material. In addition to completing your own research online, you may want to visit the university library in order to uncover a treasure trove of reputable sources.

Remember: The Audience is Your Top Priority

After you have completed your research, you are going to need to focus your efforts on writing for your audience. When writing an essay for a college course, you may have to be flexible and cater your writing to a variety of audience types. For instance, in a law class, you may be writing to appease a judge or a juror. In a journalism course, your writing is going to need to be appealing to the general public, providing succinct, factual information in a timely manner. The audience for your paper will dictate the type of information that you provide, the way it is presented and the overall tone of the paper. When you know your audience, you can craft a strong paper that delivers your point in the most effective manner possible.

Don’t Be Shy—Get Personal

One of the reasons why writing plays such a pivotal role in nearly every college course is that it gives students an opportunity to articulate their ideas in a way that is personal and customized. Writing allows you to highlight that the world is not always black and white, as many multiple choice essays and standardized tests would presume. Rather, it’s filled with shades of gray, and writing allows you to bring to light the different experiences that you and others have shared. Rather than creating a cut-and-dried paper that parrots the status quo, insert your personality and style into your writing. This doesn’t mean ignore style guidelines and requirements for the paper, but recognize you are given a certain amount of freedom to choose just the right voice for your essay.

Read Your First Draft Out Loud, Then Revise

One of the lesser known tips on writing an essay for college is to read your first draft out loud. While you may feel a little awkward reciting your paper in the open, it’s best to work through it and read what you wrote to yourself or to anyone else in the room. It’s an easy way to identify awkward wording or sentences that don’t flow correctly. After you read it out loud, make notes about what needs to be edited. Revise your paper shortly after reading it out loud, and then once the revisions are complete, read it again. You will be surprised how effective this tip is, and how much better your essay is in the long run.

Always Have a Proofreader on Hand

While you are going to catch grammatical errors and improper wording when you read and revise your own work, it’s always a good idea to have another set of eyes look it over. Proofreaders provide valuable feedback on how effectively you make your points and where you can improve your sentence structure, paragraph content and overall argument. A proofreader may also catch spelling errors and grammatical issues that you inadvertently overlooked. If you are living with a roommate, the two of you can swap proofreading duties and form a partnership that will allow you both to grow as writers during your university career. Remember don’t take proofreading edits personally—writing is all about continuous improvement.

At Post University, we pride ourselves on the fact that we offer students the support they need to have the best possible college experience. If you need additional help with your writing, don’t be afraid to head to the Center for Academic Success. We are there to guide you and provide you with constructive feedback that can allow you to be as successful as possible.