As a fellow student and as a history minor, I acknowledge the burden of history essays. You can't state your opinion about it, you cannot just say anything you think of, and you cannot assume anything. Because of these restrictions, you are required to obtain information and then research that information. History is a large part of non-fiction, in fact, history IS non-fiction.
History is created every day. One example of this is 9/11/01. I was in the 5th grade at the time, and I never expected to see the World Trade Center, on TV, while it collapsed. Another example is all of the wars across that have occured and are happening today. We all expericence history, whether we are aware of it or not. Fifty years from now, today would will be considered the "good ol' days."
So what does this have to do with your history essay that's due next week? Let me tell you, it has everything to do with it! When you write about a certain event, time period, or individual, you have to have three things:
1. Resources of information
2. Acknowledgement of history
3. Your our personal experience
With these three tools, you can write about any type of history, and furthermore, learn something from it. I have always enjoyed writing history essays because I have the information in front of me, and the hindsight to show the significance of that history.
Before I can to UIU, I went to North Iowa Area Community College for two years. It was a generic and plain place, but I had excellent teachers. My history professor from NIACC changed the outlook I had on history. I will never forget his words of wisdom, and I will share the most important one with all of you. "History is not about who, what, where, when, or how, but why? Why did it happen, and importantly, what can we learn from it?"
The bottom line is this: If you do the research, find the facts, write the references, and reflect on why this history happened, then you can write the essay. Most importantly, you must write why this history is important and what you will learn from this history. History is connected to everything, history IS everything, and by learning about the past, you will learn from it, and prepare yourself for a better future.
Creating a topic for an essay can be a daunting task, especially when your professor gives you full reign over what to write about. There is an overwhelming amount of content in the world for you to consider, and the manner with which you approach a particular subject can further add to the confusion because you could conceptually interpret it in so many different ways!
But do not fret, young writer – for here are three basic guidelines designed to make topic-searching a little easier for you:
1) First and foremost, select a small range of topics that YOU are comfortable writing about. Often, students make the mistake of picking certain topics to impress their readers rather than discussing something they fully understand and care for. The more knowledgeable and interested the author is with the topic, the more the author has to write about it.
2) Transform your potential topics into claims to find out which one appeals to you the most. Topics are categories that writers utilize to create thesis statements. For example, a general topic for an essay could be “Violence in America”, but you can formulate many claims from this, such as “Capital Punishment in the United States should be discontinued due to its immoral implications”, or “Young American children exposed to fictional violence in the media are more likely to become aggressive themselves.” Make sure your claim is specific and arguable; there really is no point in arguing about a statement like “Violence is detrimental to the lives of American citizens” because this is common knowledge.
3) Once you have finally managed to pick a claim that YOU would like to write about, make sure to talk to your professor for advice! You do not want to find out in the later stages of writing your paper that it did not fit the parameters of your assignment. By talking to your professor about the topic beforehand, you will be able to make sure that your argument is relevant, and if not, you can refer to the other topics you had selected earlier for an alternative claim. If the topic/thesis you selected is valid, your professor might even be able to provide tips to make it better, so do not hesitate!
You do not want to devote your paper to an argument that you do not fully comprehend or feel passionate about. Hopefully, these guidelines have managed to relieve you of the stress of searching for topics that make writing fun and engaging for you!
As I sit pondering my paper's topic, of which I am still uncertain, I realize a monumental issue with the paper writing process, topic picking. I can't say for certain that everyone faces the issue of topic indecision but I can say that everyone I have ever met has. Everyone everywhere in the paper writing world of academia must write a paper over a topic. It can be difficult to choose a topic for a few reasons--maybe you can't write about the topic chosen or you failed entirely to figure out what is worth gracing your paper. Just stop, relax and take a moment to think.
Paper writing is a wonderful exercise in communication. Communication is the glorious device used to convey thoughts from one person to another and the written word is an immortalization of human genius. Paper writing is amazing if you stop to think about it. It shouldn’t be a chore and come as easily as talking. Don’t try to force it, let it come out naturally, words flowing from your finger tips like raindrops from clouds, instead of trudging your pen across the paper so hard that you leave grooves in the table.
First you need an idea. Take a moment to think: what have you learned? What interested you? What did you like? What made you ask questions? The answer to these questions is something that engaged you and would be engaging to your reader. Take this idea that you have passion for and put it to words, put those words on paper, receive an "A" for the assignment. It’s almost that easy.
We have all written papers that we cared nothing for. We did this because we felt we had to. Who could imagine writing something enjoyable? It doesn’t have to be that way. If you care for your topic, it becomes less of a chore and more of a labor of love. If you do this, it will make life easier and it will show in your writing.
Find your passion and run with it.
P.S. If you can't think of something you liked, pick something that you hated least.
The writing concepts for essays can vary depending on the course or program they relate to, but the core structure usually remains the same. These guidelines may help in the process of writing essays effectively:
-Subject + Argument (or Claim) --> define them clearly
-Research/brainstorm the required evidence/reasoning behind claim
-Intro paragraph --> Do your best to spark interest for the reader; claim is presented in thesis statement
-Maintain focus of your claim throughout your body paragraphs --> each parapraph dictates an idea or point from your claim; your job is to elaborate on it
-Conclusion paragraph --> restate thesis (but never word for word) and provide further insight if necessary
-Finalize --> thoroughly check for grammatical and structural errors (Software programs such as Microsoft Word won't always catch them!)
-Citations/Bibliography --> make sure that they are of the correct format (MLA, APA, etc.)
-Title for paper --> Eye-catching and relevant (this can be established early on in the writing process)
Hopefully these steps aid you in creating well thought-out essays in the future. Happy writing!
Are you struggling with writing lab reports in your science classes? Do you need help finding peer-reviewed scientific articles to support your reports? Come visit us and we can help you organize your information in the proper lab report style and give you some great tips on how to locate peer-reviewed articles!
Have you ever had the urge to play with words? Do you wonder if you are the only one? Well, you're not! All those who are interested are welcome to attend today's Creative Writing Group meeting from 3-4 p.m. in the Writing Center, where writers share their ideas, read their work, and enjoy starting new work with some writing activities. We look forward to seeing you here.
~The Writing Consultants
At this point your professors may have graded and returned your midterm exams. These tests can be a valuable tool to you even after they have been graded. Studying your graded exams can improve your test-taking abilities. If you got a bad grade on the test, you can review it to see what type of question (essay, true/false, multiple choice, etc.) gave you the most trouble. Also you can determine what course material you needed to study more. If you did poorly on material that was covered in the beginning of the course, but did well on questions regarding more recent material, you may want to study the early material throughout the term so that you don’t forget it.
With that said, you don’t have to get a bad grade on a midterm to learn from it. You can learn just as much from a test on which you got a good grade. This means that your methods of studying worked. Also, going over the test, no matter what grade you got on it, can give you insight into what the professor is looking for, how he or she grades, and what type of questions you should be prepared to answer. If you don’t know what to expect on a test, you can study too hard. Studying too much for one test can take away time that you could spend preparing for another test, and studying too hard just before a test can tire you out so that you may not do as well on the test. Looking over graded tests can help you streamline your studying so that it is most efficient.
And always remember to apply your writing skills to all your schoolwork, tests included. Good writing isn’t something to reserve for big papers. The more we practice, the more we will learn. Tests can be excellent tools for learning more about writing.
With only a few weeks of class left until summer, it may be hard for some students, including me, to stay motivated. To help with this problem, I have come up with a few ideas that have helped motivate me in the past and will hopefully help you.
Create a routine: Finding time for homework each day is hard enough but without a routine, it may be nearly impossible. Everyone is busy this time of year, so setting a routine is important. Set aside a time each day to sit down and do your homework or study. Regardless of if it is before or after class, between class and practice, or after work, you are more likely to do your homework if you make it a part of your daily routine.
Set goals: Give yourself something to work toward. Without a goal in mind, you may feel as though you are not accomplishing anything. By setting a goal, you are able to push yourself to reach the “finish line” and you will feel better about meeting your goal. Also, setting goals will help you manage your time. For instance, say it is Tuesday and your paper is due Friday. Plan to write half of the paper Tuesday and the other half Wednesday. This will give you time to look over the entire paper and possibly set up a Writing Center appointment before your paper is due.
Have rewards: Once you meet or exceed your goals, reward yourself. After finishing a paper or turning in an assignment, let yourself have a snack or watch a tv show. Knowing you have a reward waiting for you after you finish your assignment will help motivate you.
Take breaks: Writer’s block? Can’t get through a reading assignment? Take a break. While a reward helps push you through an assignment, sometimes you just need to step away for a while. Go for a walk or listen to music; after a while, come back to your assignment with a clear and open mind.
Hopefully these tips can help you keep up with the last few weeks of class. Just remember that although the countdown to summer has begun, school is happening now.
Need something to do this Friday, March 18? Come to the Writing Center to participate in a writers' group open to everyone. Please bring some writing to share or come to listen. The event is at 3:00 p.m., and refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!
Doing research is for essays gets tricky. With the power of the internet just about anybody can put out information. So finding legitimate sources for your papers and projects can seem like a nightmare. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned through trial and error.
1. Google Scholar is pretty much my new best friend. Not only does it pull up journal articles, it pulls up books based on the topic you search. Most of the books have a preview, which makes life wonderful because you can search through the book online. It also lets you search by dates, so if you have a professor who only wants sources from the year 1999 and up, Google lets you get specific. This website saved my life during my Shakespeare final paper.
2. Wikipedia, now before you have a mini heart attack and think “but my professor tells me NOT to use this site.” Your professor is right, but the great thing about Wikipedia is the links at the bottom of the page, this is where the people who put the page together have to site their sources. At the bottom of the page SHOULD be a list of website where the creator pulled their information from. Use these.
3. Avoid “.com’s” at the end of sites, I know this maybe frustrating but “.com” means “.commercial” that means some sponsor could be paying for that site to be up, they could be bias on what is on the webpage. Using .org or .edu is always a good idea. Remember is the website looks shady (not put together well, spelling errors, or broken links) it’s not a good site to use.
4. If you find pages with titles like hubpages.com/inserttopichere or anglefire.com/blahblah, these are websites that people can make for free, most of the time they are NOT a good source of information. They can be made by almost anyone with enough time to waste.
Now that you have all your information, citing it can be a nightmare. APA, MLA and Chicago Style could make any sane student want to pull their hair out. But check out this awesome website to help make your life a little less stressful.
1. http://citationmachine.net- this lets you fill in the blanks with what information you have and automatically formats the citation for you. It also give you your in-page citation (which always seems to get tricky when you don’t have a date, page number or author).