Feel like your writing skills could use a boost? Here are five effective tools to help you write the right way in college.
1. English 101
When you composed essays in high school, you were often provided with a training model to help you achieve structured writing. In college, you’re expected to master the conventions of academic writing through your own critical thinking. After passing the entry-level course of English 101, you should be proficient in the basics. However, as you progress in your college career, you may find your writing falling due to involuntarily skimping. Revisiting the fundamentals of English 101—such as composing a thesis statement, bibliography formatting, and basic grammar—can help you continue building on your writing progress in college.
2. The writing center
To aid students in their writing, many college campuses offer free services via a writing center. This is where students can receive individual peer tutoring and attend workshops tailored for specific forms of academic writing. The writing center can assist during any part of the writing process and is usually easily accessible on a college campus. Some writing centers may even offer tutoring services via online portals as well. When you’re in need of additional guidance for a writing project, your college writing center is an ideal resource for instructional help beyond the classroom.
3. Writing apps
There’s an app and site designed for everything nowadays, and fortunately some of them can benefit your writing as a college student.
This app is designed for the planning process of your writing. You’re able to organize your ideas via flow charts and mind maps to visualize the main points of your writing. The app is also designed to allow you to network with classmates by sharing your diagrams to collaborate during the writing process.
Twinword Writer is designed for the wording process of your writing. It has a built-in thesaurus to autogenerate an alternative word for when you’re caught on how to phrase a sentence. The revisions you use can also be saved in a separate file in the app for future writing assignments. This app also features a tool to check the tone of your writing via word choice and a tracking option to view how often you’ve reused a word.
This site is designed for the editing process post-writing. Similar to Twinword Writer, it can help you find common errors you may oversee and needed improvements within your writing by identifying overused words, passive voice, weak phrasing, and minor glitches in your writing that can potentially cost you major point deductions.
4. Peer review
A peer review of your writing allows an individual of the same qualifications to evaluate your work. If a classmate seems to score higher on their writing in the course, it’s a good indicator that they’ve grasped what the professor is looking for. Comparing your writing to their own can help you detect any gaps in your process and may even allow you to adopt new techniques to achieve a higher score. You can also find peer review groups and sites online. One free resource is NowComment, where you can upload your document and share it with friends or the public to discuss.
5. Professor feedback
Your professor’s feedback is a direct guide on how to improve your next writing assignment, and neglecting to follow feedback is an all too common reason for students to lose points on their writing assignments in college. If you’re making changes based on their feedback but your score doesn’t seem to improve, it’s an indicator that you’ll need to have an open conversation with your professor. Sometimes a direct approach can help you receive a more personalized critique on your writing, as there’s always a chance your professor’s feedback was misinterpreted or is in need of further elaboration for you to make the necessary changes. Be sure to approach your professor with an open mind (especially if you’re addressing feedback that you don’t agree with), and express your concern as a student who’s looking to improve their writing and is willing to listen.
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