Category Archives: Academics

The 5 Step Essay Writing Process That Will Help You Write Better Papers

Whether you’re writing a 500 word paper or a 30 page paper, writing an essay can be challenging. Figuring out how to get your point across, the proper diction, paragraph organization, and more before a deadline can feel like a daunting task. Even if you’re a great writer, the writing process isn’t always going to be easy. Fortunately, I have a 5 step writing process that makes essay writing a bit easier, and that helps you write better papers:

Step 1: Determine your purpose for writing the paper.

This first step is probably the most important step you can take when writing a paper. Defining the subject of the paper will help guide you in what to write. It is much easier to research something and write about it when you know exactly what it is you’re trying to write. Look over the assignment carefully to gain a better understanding of what your professor wants from the paper. Ask yourself the following question: What do you want the reader to know after reading this paper? Remember: When you write with a purpose in mind, your paper will have purpose. Make sure you know the goal you’re trying to accomplish well and how you can convey the message to your reader.

Step 2: Write down everything and anything about your topic.

Before you can start to write or even outline, you have to have ideas. Ideas are the starting point of any paper. Think about the overall point you want to get across to your reader that you defined in step one. For example, let’s say you’re writing a paper on why business X is successful. Do research on the business and on what defines success for that business and dump thoughts, links, quotes, statistics, and anything you can find on the subject into a document. This doesn’t need to have any structure or clear reasoning behind it just yet. This is simply a chance for you to brainstorm and collect information. This will also help give you a better understanding of the topic of your paper and will be extremely useful when the time comes to start writing. 

Step 3: Organize your thoughts.

Step three is when you sift through the research from step two and find the most valuable pieces of information that you’ll want to include in your paper. This is the step where you can create an outline. Keep in mind that outlines don’t have to be extremely detailed and lengthy; just think of the main points you want to write about and underneath those points, include supporting information. While you may be eager to begin the writing process and want to skip doing an outline, I wouldn’t recommend it. Outlines are a great way to organize your paper in a logical way. Start with your introduction which should include your thesis (what you want the reader to know after reading your paper), then body paragraphs where you share information that supports your thesis, and a conclusion that ties the paper together and summarizes what you’ve written. It sounds simple enough, and you’ve most likely been writing papers with this structure for most of your life, but it can be easy to neglect the basics and let your paper go off the tracks. Create an outline to organize your paper and see how each element of the paper will work together to accomplish your vision.

Step 4: Start writing, then take a step back.

Step four is when the writing begins. It might sound a little late in the process to start writing the paper itself, but after you’ve done the first three steps, this part of the process will be made significantly easier. Use your outline as a guide for writing. It is also very important to make sure that you read all of your professors guidelines for the paper so you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, as I mentioned in step one. If there is a rubric, make sure to look it over so that you know what you’re being graded on.

Remember that you can always go back to previous steps in this process and do more research or add things to your outline if you realize adjustments need to be made as you write. In fact, I strongly encourage you to do this to make sure your paper is exactly how you want it to be and satisfies the requirements. Refer back to your professors instructions regularly to make sure you’re on the right track. After you’ve written your paper, I recommend you step away from it for a while and do something else. This is so that when you come back to it, you can find mistakes that you may have overlooked before. It also gives you a mental break and prevents you from becoming overwhelmed.

Step 5: Grade your own paper.

This last step requires you to put yourself in your professors shoes. Once your paper is finished, read it over as if you weren’t the one who wrote it. When you’re done reading, write down what you believe the purpose of the paper was. If this matches the purpose you wrote down for yourself in step one, that’s great! That means you effectively conveyed what you wanted to to the reader. However, it’s always good to get a second opinion, so I would recommend having a peer, someone from the Writing Center, or even your professor look it over and give you their thoughts. You should also give yourself a grade and some feedback after reading it. It might feel a little strange to grade your own paper, but it’s very useful. If you feel like your paper was worthy of a B, think about what you could change to make it an A-worthy paper. What do you feel like was missing? What did you like about the paper? Was there anything you disliked about it? Being totally honest with yourself during this step will improve the quality of your paper. 

Try using this 5 step process for your next writing assignment!

Subscribe to our blog to receive email notifications whenever we make a new post!

Follow us on social media:

Twitter: @villehousing. Twitter QR Code:

Instagram: @villehousing. Instagram Nametag:

Should You Declare a Minor?

In college, your major is your main focus as far as academics go; it’s what most of your courses are based around and it’s what you’ll receive a degree in. Picking a major can be challenging, especially if you have multiple interests. Fortunately, if you’re interested in a certain subject but don’t want to make it your major, you can minor in it! Minors are a great way to increase your knowledge on a subject, whether that subject ties into your major or if it’s just something you’d like to know more about.

Here is some advice that will help guide your decision of whether or not adding a minor is the right choice for you:

Minors have certain requirements that need to be fulfilled just like majors do. Click here to view the list of minors Millersville offers and their requirements. Your advisor is a great resource to go to with any questions about minors. It’s also important to talk to your advisor when considering a minor to make sure you are actually eligible to minor in that field. For example, a Business Administration major with a concentration in Marketing cannot minor in Management. They would instead have to add management as a second concentration. Before you meet with your advisor, I’d recommend doing some research on your own to learn more about the minor you’re considering. If you’re interested in minoring in Psychology, for example, you could look into Millerville’s Psychology Department, the faculty and staff, and research the required courses to see if it’s a good fit for you.  Having this information can help you decide if declaring a minor is the right choice for you. 

Minors related to your degree are a good way to learn more about the field you’re interested in, may expand your job opportunities after graduation, and can help your resume stand out among other job candidates. However, don’t limit yourself to thinking that you can’t or shouldn’t minor in a field that isn’t related to your major – you can! Robert Kiyosaki, a businessman and author, said that the most important thing a person can do to help themselves is “to know a little about a lot.” Having a minor that isn’t related to your major can help you graduate with a more varied skill set and knowledge in more than one subject area. 

The biggest piece of advice I can give you when deciding on whether or not to declare a minor is to know yourself. Can you handle the additional courses? Will you still graduate on time? Is it something you’re really interested in? What do you want to get out of it? These are all good questions to ask yourself during this process. You may want to declare a minor to appear more well-rounded and hard working to employers, but standing out to employers also requires things like good grades and participation in extracurricular events.  If a minor interferes with these things, it may not be the right choice for you. If you already have your plate full with other courses and maybe a part-time or full-time job, or if you’re struggling to keep your grades up, I’d recommend making a pros and cons list to help you weigh your options and reach out to your advisor for advice. 

It’s important to remember that even without a minor, there’s still plenty you can do to make sure your a good candidate for jobs once you graduate. Click here to read an article from the American Marketing Association where two recruiters answer questions about things such as what they look for in a resume and how to get noticed, or this article from Indeed.com about how to impress potential employers and coworkers during a job interview. Of course, you can also still explore a subject area you’re interested in without declaring a minor in it by simply taking a few elective courses.

You can remove a minor at any time, so there’s no pressure to stick with something that isn’t working out for you. To add, remove, or change a minor, visit this link and fill out the form called “Academic Program Change Request”. This form was called the “Academic Minor” form until very recently, so if you hear it called that, just know the person is talking about the “Academic Program Change Request”.

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you’re happy with your choice and that you’re doing what’s best for yourself and your education. 

Subscribe to our blog to receive email notifications whenever we make a new post!

Follow us on social media:

Twitter: @villehousing. Twitter QR Code:

Instagram: @villehousing. Instagram Nametag:

Congratulations!

Congratulations 2020 graduates you have made it to the end! Through all the craziness and uncertainty it has finally ended. It may not have happened the way we had wanted it to, but we can proudly say that we are college graduates. Sadly, graduation can not be May 9th as was originally planned, but it has been postponed. If you have not seen ‘Ville Daily then you should definitely check out this. The Department of Housing and Residential Programs wishes you luck in your future endeavors.

We also want to congratulate the students, faculty and staff for finishing the Spring 2020 semester strong. It has been difficult, but everyone did an excellent job with the change in everyday life. We know life will not go back to exactly as it was for a while, but we hope to be back for the Fall 2020 semester.

Please stay healthy and keep up with your EPPIIC Values. Good luck to everyone moving forward!

Finals Week Tips

Finals week has finally come, though not in the way we had thought it would. Professors have had to change their syllabus and find new ways to teach their students. Finals is a bit tough though. Some have gone from having a test to having a final paper while others have decided to just make the final online. Either way students should still prepare for their finals.

One way to prepare is to go over the notes from class and online work.

It is beneficial to remember most of the information, even if the test is open book / notes. The test will most likely be timed and it will help you to know most of the information rather then looking each question up.

Another way to prepare is to not cram the night before.

Try looking over your notes each day leading up to the test. This goes well with papers as well. Studying or writing your paper the night before is not a good idea. Try doing a little bit each day. This will help you not feel overwhelmed.

If it is an option, skip questions and then go back to them.

Not all professors allow this on their tests, but if you have the option then use it. If you are unsure of the question and can’t find it in your notes skip it and then come back to it. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out and then not have the time for other questions.

Finally, take time to look over your test / paper before you turn it in.

Before turning in any work you should look over it and make sure you have the answers you think are right. Looking over your paper can help you with grammar and spelling. It is important to check your work before you submit.

Good luck to everyone with their finals!

 

Making a Writing Assignment Easy

Writing isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have to do it often. There are different styles and every professor has a unique way of grading essays. This can make it overwhelming and sometimes difficult to get a good essay. There are a few things to keep in mind when you go to write an essay that will make it easier and might help produce a good grade.

First you need to understand the question.

You need to understand whether the essay is supposed to be a compare or contrast essay, analytical essay, maybe an evaluation of something or someone. There are different kinds of essays and you need to be aware of what kind your professor wants from you. Basically, the wording of the question is how you will know what the professor is expecting from your essay.

Second you need to plan and schedule.

Most people underestimate the amount of work and time it takes to produce a good essay. Setting up a schedule with deadlines for the different parts of writing an essay will help you in the long run. Here is an example of a schedule:

Third step is make sure your sources relate to your content.

When trying to find sources it is a good idea to read over the abstract or summary. This will let you know whether it is worth it to read the entire source or if it isn’t going to be what you need for your essay.

Don’t forget that you should always find reliable sources that work for your essay. Try the McNairy Library search page to find good sources. We may not be able to be on campus, but the electronic resources and services will remain accessible to students and faculty.

The fourth step to writing a good essay is be critical.

Most studies, arguments, and theories you research have some sort of flaw to them. Instead of just summarizing what you read, try being critical. Point out what works and doesn’t work in the research. By using critical thinking as the approach to your essay you show that you are not simply repeating what you read. Instead it proves that you have thought your topic through.

The fifth step is structure, flow and focus.

It is imperative that your essay be structured in a way that flows and makes sense. Throwing an essay together can lead to it not making sense to the reader. We all know where the intro and conclusion go, but the body paragraphs are important to organize as well.

Sixth step is to write academically.

It is common, especially for first and second year students, to write in an informal way. When writing an essay you should always try and use more formal and academic wording. It should not sound the way you would text.

Finally, do not plagiarize.

This should be obvious by now, but you never want to plagiarize someone else’s writing. Millersville University has rules about plagiarism which are important to know and understand. They also provide tips on how to avoid plagiarism.

You should always have someone look over your work as Millersville University has resources to help you. In the library you can find the Writing Center. Here they will help you revise and edit. Even though the campus is closed the Writing Center is still offering online help.

Even though Millersville has gone completely online, there are still services that you can use to help with your writing. Don’t be afraid to use the Writing Center’s online help or use the library’s online resources.

Defeating Distractions While Working from Home

Distractions are all around us. Sometimes we look for them, sometimes they sneak up on us. Whatever the reason we usually find ways of distracting ourselves. This is especially true now that most of us are taking online courses and / or working from home. However, there are ways of preventing yourself from getting distracted.

Recognize what your distractions are.

We don’t always notice when we get distracted until after the fact. If you can spot what distracts you from your homework or that important task you are working on then maybe you can prevent them.

Some distractions you may face at home are your family, social media, TV, computer and cell phone. Turn off your notifications and cell phone. You won’t need them. As for your family, try asking them for an hour or two of alone time. It is important for you to focus on your school work and not them.

Put yourself in distraction free mode.

Once you can recognize what your distractions are, you will be able to get rid of them. Your phone is definitely a distraction and when doing homework you should have it turned off or at the very least put it on silence. When it comes to your computer you probably can’t turn it off, but keep social media platforms off. Try to organize your favorites or saved websites so that you aren’t tempted to let yourself get distracted.

Do the hardest (or most dreaded) task first.

It isn’t as hard to do the homework for the class or homework assignments you enjoy. Try doing the task that you do not want to do first. It will make the assignment easier and help you get done with it sooner.

Remove those bad habits that prevent you from getting things done.

The “I will do it later” or “It can wait” sayings are just some bad habits that you should rid yourself of. Instead try getting a head start on your homework or projects. Don’t put off what can be done now.

Declutter your mind.

Try to find relaxation techniques that help you. It is important to take time for yourself. If you need a starting point on finding the perfect relaxation technique for you check out the following article from the Mayo Clinic . By finding a good way of relaxing you will be able to declutter your mind.

Prepare your work place.

Clear your desk and get rid of the knick-knacks and photos on your desk. they may be cute but ultimately they will distract you from what you are doing. You also don’t want your desk to be cluttered because it can be distracting. This goes for the room you plan on working in. If the room is messy you will have a harder time focusing.

Set your time.

Do not try and get everything done at once. It will cause you stress and anxiety that you do not need in your life. Instead set a specific time frame for your projects. Between each project take a little break and relax. The breaks are when you can let yourself get distracted.

With all that is going on with COVID-19, it is important for us to find a way to limit the distractions in our lives. By getting rid of our distractions we can be more productive. This will lead to less stress and anxiety and ultimately make our lives easier. If you can find a way to get rid of your distractions then do it, it will help you in the long run.

Need a new Desk Organizer? Leave a comment below on how you are currently dealing with your distractions in order to be eligible to win a desk organizer with various school supplies (*supplies will vary from those in the photo*). A winner will be randomly selected on 4/10/2020 at 12:00 PM and will be announced. Only current Millersville University students are eligible to win. 

How to Be Successful While Taking Online Classes

Welcome back from your two week spring break Marauders! I hope you are adjusting to remote learning and that things are starting to calm down for you. I know it has been a stressful time for both students and faculty. Going remote with class can be hard, especially for those who have never taken or taught classes online. There are a few tips you can try to make this time a little easier for you.

Treat it like a face to face course.

It can be harder to get classwork done when it is online. You need to have the discipline to sit down and get the work done instead of putting it off till later. Remember that you are still paying for the course and that the class will help you later on. You want to treat this class as you would a job, show up (even if it is a Zoom meeting) and get the work done.

Hold yourself accountable.

If you do not have a planner, now is a really good time to get one. When you take a face-to-face course you get verbal or visual reminders of assignments and exams. Now that we are going online it will become harder to keep track of everything that needs to be done. By having a planner you will be able to keep track of your assignments and hold yourself accountable.

Practice time management.

Managing your time has never been as important as it is now. With all the stress of figuring things out it is hard to keep a strict schedule. It may take a week or two, but try to form a schedule that works best for you.

Create a regular study space and stay organized.

Find a place in your home where you won’t be disturbed. Whether it’s your room or somewhere else, you need to find a place where you can focus on your work. You should keep that space clean and organized. This will help you focus as well.

Figure out how you learn best.

After you find your perfect work space, you should think about when and how you learn best. Some people work better in the mornings. So, when they wake up they should set some time aside to get their work done. For those who work better in the evenings set aside some time after dinner to get your work done.

Actively participate.

Many professors are using D2L’s discussion section and Zoom meetings. It is important to try and participate in these discussions because it is how you are going to get the most out of your class. These learning forums are where you can get the most information from.

Not everyone likes taking online courses, but we need to make the most of it. It is important to keep up with your work and try to fulfill your semester goals. If you follow the tips above you may find that you like having your classes online.

Fighting Procrastination

Procrastination is a word that professors dread hearing. It causes people stress and anxiety which can ruin a person’s day. This may sound dramatic, but if you read up on the effects of procrastination it shows that it can effect your health, finances, your performance in school or work, and cause feelings of anxiety. Interested in learning more? Then check out:

Procrastination

Procrastination is the tendency to avoid unpleasant or stressful tasks that are often very important and replace them with less important, less stressful tasks. A person who avoids calling a debt collector or who posts on social networking sites instead of writing a paper is engaging in procrastination.

It is important to find ways to get yourself to manage your work and homework so that you don’t procrastinate.

One way is to set simple, achievable goals.

By setting simple and achievable goals you don’t get overwhelmed just thinking about your projects. Focus on one project at a time and then your list won’t seem as long and tiresome.

Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines.

Organize your projects from needs to get done now to can wait till later. Then set a specific time frame for each project. For example:

This is loosely based of my schedule. Find a planner or calendar that you dedicate to planning your homework and projects out.

Try using incentives.

It is okay to bribe yourself into doing your work. Promise yourself that if you finish that paper due next week on Friday, then you can go to the movies on Saturday. Give yourself something to work towards and it will make the project easier to do.

Get the hard stuff done first.

It is typical for people to start with the easy projects and put off the harder ones, but try reversing them. Start with the harder projects because then they won’t cause you stress later. Putting off the harder projects is worse for your anxiety then if you were to put off reading a chapter.

Change your environment.

Sometimes studying or working on a project is easier when you get a change of scenery. Personally, I work in my room, but when I feel like I am stuck I will go to the library. If it is a nice day try to find a quiet place outside.

Stop over-complicating things.

Students tend to be their own worst nightmare because they over think their projects. When you over think a project it can be more intimidating then it really is. When I write a paper or work on a big project, I try to just get it done and worry about if it is right after I finish. Then I revise and edit. It doesn’t seem so hard when you do a project this way.

Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen if I did this today?

The fact is that by working on that project that isn’t due till next week today, can save yourself from anxiety and second-rate work. Nothing bad will happen if you get an early start.

Finally, imagine how you’ll feel once you do whatever it is you’ve been postponing.

It always feels amazing when the project is done and you don’t have to worry about it. Try to remember that feeling when you prepare to start something.

It is hard to get started on the big projects, but once you do you will feel a whole lot better. Not only will your anxiety lessen, but also your work will be better. Procrastination isn’t worth the stress and bad grades that are sure to follow it.

How to Prepare for an Interview

It can be nerve wracking getting ready for an interview, especially if you are not ready. If you are not prepared for the interview it most likely won’t go well. There are a few tips that can help you get ready for what you need to do before the interview as well as what is needed during an interview.

Examine the Job Description

The very first thing you need to do before your interview is to very carefully look over the job description. It is important to understand what the position is and what your responsibilities will be before you meet with the employer. This will give the impression that you are serious about this job as well as that you are professional.

Know Your Audience

The position you are interviewing for is not the only research you will need to conduct. You will also want to research the company / business. It is important to know about the company / business because it will help you get a better understanding of the position you are interviewing for as well as if it will be a good fit for you.

Consider Your Answers to Common Interview Questions

You will not be able to predict all the questions that will be asked, but there are common questions that most employers will want answers too. Some of these questions may be “why do you want to work for this company?” or “what are your greatest strengths?” These may not sound like hard questions to answer, but if you are unprepared they could mess up the rest of your interview.

Prepare Several Thoughtful Questions for the Interviewer(s)

As with most professional meetings, there are do’s and don’ts when it comes to questions you should ask during the  interview. You want to sound professional and intelligent but you do not want to sound pushy or not interested. Check out the following two posts to learn the questions you should ask vs. the questions that should never be asked during an interview.

These Are the Questions You Should Never Ask During a Job Interview

Towards the end of an interview, almost every employer will ask, ” Do you have any questions for me?” Job applicants should put just as much thought into asking questions as they do answering questions. Whether you intend it or not, each question you ask has the potential to reflect your knowledge of the company, your interest in the position, and your work ethic.

 

10 Impressive Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

Get Ask a Boss delivered every week As someone who has interviewed probably thousands of job applicants throughout my career, I’m always surprised by how some candidates handle the part of the interview where it’s their turn to ask questions.

Conduct Mock Interviews

Ask a friend or family member to help you prepare by going through a mock interview. Have them be the interviewer and try to make it as realistic as possible. This will help you with answering questions as well as get some feedback on how you conducted yourself. It could also help boost your confidence when going in for your real interview.

*Remember to be open to their criticism and try to implement their recommendations.

Print Copies of Your Resume

Always bring a hard copy of your resume when going to an interview, even if you already submitted a digital copy. This gives the employer the impression that you are ready for anything and it refreshes their memory of who you are.

State of Mind

It is okay to be nervous before going into an interview, but it is important you find a way to keep your head in the right place. If you are scattered and unfocused it will show during your interview. Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before and try some calming techniques.

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief

For many of us, relaxation means flopping on the couch and zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress.

Dress Accordingly

You should dress professionally when attending an interview. This gives the employer a good first impression and shows that you are serious about working for them. It will also boost your confidence.

Get Ready to Follow Up After the Interview

It is extremely important to follow up after an interview. By following up you show your interest in the position and will make you stand out with the employer. Now the question is how long do you wait before contacting them? A good rule of thumb is waiting 4 – 5 business days, unless you were already given the next steps in the process.

Experiential Learning and Career Management (ELCM) is a great place to visit at Millersville University. They help with resume critiques, cover letters, job and internship searches, etc. For more information on them check out their page.

Experiential Learning And Career Management (ELCM)

Experiential Learning And Career Management (ELCM)

Helpful Studying Tips

Studying is not the most fun activity to engage in. It is, however, extremely important as a college student. Since it isn’t fun it can be hard to focus while studying making it pointless. Here are a few tips on how to form good study habits:

Take Good Notes

Taking good notes isn’t exactly easy for most. Try to take notes on the key points in class and the textbook/readings. You don’t want to take notes on information that you are not going to need. If you aren’t sure you understood what the main points were in a lecture, then go and see your professor during their office hours. You can always ask to record the lecture, but you will need the professor’s permission first.

Keep Organized

Keep some sort of a planner or calendar to make time management easier. By doing this you can keep track of your classes, extra activities, and work schedule. Then just add in your homework and you are all set.

Another tip you can follow is putting sticky notes into your textbooks. This will make it easier to go back later and see the key points you took from that page.

Turn OFF your electronics

I know this may be hard, especially since for most of your homework nowadays you need your laptop but trust me it is better without the distractions. When it comes to your laptop, make a rule that you won’t go on any distracting websites such as social media and/or streaming sites. I have distracted myself many times by listening to music or telling myself one more episode of a tv show.

As for your cell phone, turn it off. You won’t need it to do your homework.

Don’t Cram for Tests

It can be tempting to put off studying until the very last minute, but it doesn’t help you. Try studying a little bit each day. This will help you not to be overwhelmed as well as help you retain the information.

Find the Perfect Spot for you

Everyone has a different preference about where to study. Some want it quiet with as few people as possible. Some prefer the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop. Some like to have music playing while they study, some need it absolutely quiet. Try and find the best study spot for you by trying a few different spots.

And Finally Take a Break

You do not need to sit for hours studying. In fact, it is best to take a break here and there to clear your head and not get overwhelmed. Personally, I watch an episode or two of a TV show I have already seen. This makes it easier to keep myself from getting distracted. If I were to watch a new TV show that has me hooked I may not go back to my studying.