What is a College Essay?

Class assignments and take-home essays is necessary for not just students, but also for teachers. Take-home assignments help students revise the lessons that they've been taught in school and to put what they've learnt into practice, and it also allows teachers to get a gauge of the students; caliber and be able to better help them from there.

In this regard, college essays have proven it's effectiveness and is a very powerful factor in student performance and experience.

boy writing on printer paper near girlPhoto by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash

What is an Essay?

A college essay is commonly a focused work of writing that is built with the main argument and supporting arguments. A good and effective school essay manages to convey information about a certain subject in a clear and concise manner. However, it's definition varies from format to format. Simplistically, and across multiple kinds of college essays, it can be understood to be a piece of writing on any particular topic or subject, written in coherent and understandbale language.

College essays can be broadly categorized into two overarching groups; informal and formal. Formal submission essays have more structure, organization, and distinguished points of focus. They also tend to use more formal language, and have a clearly defined purpose that would be stated early on in the writing. Informal essays can have a more personal tone, be more thematically motivated, include individual experiences, emotions and anecdotes, and use less formal or structured language.

silver MacBook showing applicationPhoto by Super Snapper on Unsplash

What is an College Essay?

Unlike written works like a novel or screenplay, a class or college essays have more allowance when it comes to their defining terms, formatting, and characteristics. Essays are pieces of writing that can be used to put across a variety of ideas and theories, to propose arguments, negate stands, or to express personal emotion or experience, with relation to lessons and classes that the student has had. These can be done through both formal and informal writing.

A college assignment essay would be a formal and organized discussion or interpretation of a subject or academic work. There are many different approaches to crafting a college essay, depending on the assignment guidelines or the assigned topic for the essay. But almost all essays start with needing to closely and actively read, respond, and think about the subject that is being written about.

Some common approaches to college essays include:

  • Writing them in relation to the given concept's background information, or in relation to already existing perspectives about the concept
  • Reflecting and writing personal notes about given themes or concepts
  • Reading and writing from a particular theoretical perspective
  • Examining and writing about a concept in terms of its genre and larger ideas

While research essays require the use of secondary sources, some college homework or assignment essays that are submitted during classes do not necessarily require full-fledged bibliography or resource compilation while others do. They can can also belong to a variety of formats, such as argumentative or expository essays that aim to present clear points and convey information about those points. Or, they could be more descriptive and narrative in nature, where the essays take on a more creative and literary approach.

Some other essay types that students could be asked to submit as class assignments include:

  • Argumentative
  • Expository
  • Descriptive
  • Narrative
  • Comporative
  • Persuasive
  • Critical
  • Review
  • Summary

Drafting or Outlining a College Essay

An essay outline is ultimately the skeleton of your essay. It makes your essay’s thesis point and key supporting points clear to you.

Making an outline before even starting writing out the essay has advantages to the writing process. It helps students to organize their thoughts before writing by acting as a road map to follow as they work through essay. It makes sure that students take time to think about the organization of your essay beforehand, and allows them to think through their train of thought before actually putting pen to paper or clicking away at the keyboard to write full sentences and full-fledged paragraphs.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mugPhoto by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

While writing out your outline, think about major points of discussion, the different sections or parts of your essay, and how you can best organize your points into their respective sections. The number of distinct sections you have will depend on the nature of your content and what you have to say.

The number of major points and sub-points depends on your discretion. But as a general rule of thumb, an essay that comes under 1500 words may fall into three sections, with an introduction and conclusion. But again, this is not set in stone. This skeleton will make sure that your essay is sound, has a logical flow, and has proper organization. A blueprint that is well-thought out will also act as a fall-back during the actual writing process, allowing to problem-solve quickly also.

Tips for Creating an Outline

Start your outline by writing out your thesis statement, or main topic of discussion clearly. Thereafter, plan how many body paragraphs or main points you would like to clearly explicate this.

According to this, create 1 or 2 liners for what each body paragraph would be tackling and explaining. Throughout this stage, try to avoid addressing and cramming more than one major point of discussion in each paragraph, because this can overwhelm or confuse both you and your readers.

To better plan out each paragraph, you can try the "P-E-E-L" format, or the point, example, evaluation, and link structure. This would create a logical flow and consistency throughout your entire essay, and allow your teachers to understand your thought process clearly.

person using MacBook ProPhoto by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

During the link portion of your paragraphs, ensure that your chosen point circles back to your thesis statement, and also links to the next paragraph seamlessly. These clear and distinct transitions, and the points in your essay being related and serving the thesis statement or main discussion of the essay, will add to the flow and readability to the entire essay.

In the outline, feel free add supporting points and contextual information under each body paragraph for your reference while you write the actual essay. You can omit extra information at your own pace while referencing your outline and writing the actual draft.

3 Academic Tips for College Essays

1) Your body paragraphs make up the bulk of your information in your essay. While there is no fixed number of paragraphs that is set in stone for a homework essay, the longer your essay is, the greater the chance is that it starts to long-winded and convoluted along the way. Stick to 4 or 5 body paragraphs to fulfill your main topic of discussion; a general number that is manageable and sufficient.

2) Use transition words, phrases, and sentences to manage the flow of your essay and structure. Without appropriate transitionary planning, your points and sentences might sound disjointed and jarring.

3) After planning or writing out the main body paragraphs, use your conclusive paragraph to effectively reinforce your thesis or central idea. You can do this by circling back to and placing emphasis on your evidence again and summarizing the points you've raised. In the final paragraph, refrain from introducing new data or information as your wrap your essay up. If possible, you could choose to add some personal insight or perspective to end your essay off, if the assignment guidelines and style allows for it.

While the formatting and structure of sschool or college essays can vary throughout different modules or classes, or from one assignment to another, there are stages and thought processes that students do indeed need to go through in order to present a well-written essay, despite the nature of the topic given to them.

The structure and organization varies from one essay type to another, but churning out coherent and robust written work requires significant time and energy across all essay forms. It is also important to be aware of what you are doing or what your assigned topic is asking you to do, and to shift your focus as necessary.