Category Archives: Advice

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!

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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. 

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How to Set and Achieve Your Goals

Setting and achieving goals is important, but can be challenging for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re not sure how to get started, or you’re having trouble staying motivated to reach your goal. Keep reading to find out how to set achievable goals and how you can accomplish them.

It’s important to understand why you should set goals for yourself in the first place. When you set goals for yourself, you set yourself on a path for success. Without goals, you won’t be able to grow and reach your full potential. Vivak Patel, Interim Director of Enrollment Management, says the following about the benefits of setting goals:  “Goal setting not only helps us achieve new heights and grow as an individual, it creates the blueprint for transforming our visions into reality. Progressing towards goals will create a path full of satisfaction and setting goals are your first steps.” Once you recognize that, you can start the goal setting process.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Take responsibility: Acknowledge that you are in control of your life and if there’s something you want, you’re the one who has to take action to get it. Knowing yourself and realizing it’s up to you to follow through with it will help motivate you to take those first steps. As much as I wish I could just snap my fingers and magically do well on all my assignments in order to reach my goal of getting better grades, I know it’s up to me to study harder and put more time into my schoolwork if I want to do better. Plus, reaching a goal through your own efforts rather than the efforts of someone or something else makes reaching your goal feel like an even greater accomplishment.

2. Recognize what you want to achieve: Once you have a goal in mind, understand the reasons you want to achieve that goal. For example, my goal is to get better grades. I want to get better grades because I want to prove to myself that I’m smarter than I think and so I can set myself up for success after college. Knowing why I want to reach a certain goal is especially helpful for when I find myself struggling on the path to reaching it. My reasons for setting the goal in the first place remind me not to give up when things get difficult. On the path to success, you’ll likely face setbacks that may make you question whether or not your goal is really worth it. If something means a lot to you, you need to work to overcome the challenges and keep striving for it. Click here to read an article that shares 8 strategies for how to not give up.

3. Make a plan: When goal setting, it’s important to understand everything that you’ll have to do in order to reach that goal. Make sure your plan is realistic and attainable. Try to make a schedule that you’ll feel encouraged to stick with. For example, if you want to become a vegetarian, it’s much easier to start incorporating vegetarian alternatives into your meals gradually than to completely switch to an all-vegetarian diet. You could pick one day of the week where you only eat vegetarian foods, then slowly add another day, then do three days, and so on. Remember that some things will take time and there may be setbacks, but don’t let that discourage you. Make a plan and try your best to follow it closely, but make adjustments when you feel it’s necessary.

4. Don’t take on too much by yourself: Dr. Rachel Finley-Bowman, Dean of Student Success and Associate Provost, says this about not overwhelming yourself and feeling like you’re alone when trying to accomplish your goals: “When striving to set and achieve goals, two pieces of advice immediately come to mind – (1) think small and (2) ask for and accept support. The first suggestion doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reach for your greatest dreams, but recognizes instead that any large goal is a sum of smaller parts. Prioritize and focus upon how you can achieve each part along the way. This helps to lessen anxiety about the overall task and gives you victories to celebrate as you progress in your journey. Teamwork and collaboration also promote achievement and so don’t be afraid to ask for support or accept it when it is offered. Every faculty and staff member in the MU learning community are stakeholders in your success. Leverage our expertise and guidance to help you achieve your goals.”

5. Visualize your goals and visualize yourself achieving them: Once you have an idea of what it will look like when you reach your goals, you’ll feel more inspired to achieve them. If your goal is to participate in more community service events, picture what that will look like and how it will feel to help others. Visualizing your goals will also help you recognize if a goal is unrealistic or not. If you’re a student taking several classes and you also have a job where you work long shifts, you may realize that participating in community service events regularly would be a challenge and you can adjust your goal accordingly. Vivak Patel recommends creating a vision board to help with visualization. He says, “Create, print, and cut out images that associate with your goals and hang them up on a board or even your wall. Place it in your room or somewhere that is visible for you. Look at your vision board each morning. Visualization will help you reach the goals that you set and this technique is used by the most successful people in the world.”

6. Reward yourself along the way: As you get closer to reaching your goal, reward yourself as an incentive to keep working. Whenever I study really hard for a test and do well on that test, I like to reward myself by buying my favorite candy. Telling myself that I’ll get M&M’s if I work hard gives me the motivation to get things done. It also makes me feel good after my hard work pays off and makes me want to study harder for my next test.  You should also reward yourself because you deserve to! Working towards a goal takes determination and work. Reaching milestones when trying to accomplish a certain goal, no matter how big or small, deserves recognition and celebration.

If there’s something you want to achieve, follow the steps above to help you achieve it. Remember that the faculty and staff at MU want to help you succeed however they can. Reach out to them for guidance and support when setting and achieving goals. Comment some goals you have that you’d like to start working towards. Remember, if you really want something and believe that it’s attainable, don’t give up on it!

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How to Handle Stress

Stress is totally normal – and it totally stinks. Whether your stressed about a job, schoolwork, personal relationships, or pretty much anything else, it can be hard to cope with. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can manage your stress and stop it from controlling your life. Keep reading to find out what they are and how you can use them to start feeling better:

1. Talk to someone

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Reaching out to people who care is one of the best things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re not alone – stress affects everyone in some way, and it really helps to get things off your chest. If you feel like there’s no one you can reach out to, Millersville’s Counseling Center is open for the summer and you can schedule a teletheraphy appointment either through Zoom (preferred) or over the phone. Call 717-871-7821 to schedule an appointment.

2. Look at the positives

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Is the glass half full or half empty? That depends on how you look at it! If you send all of your time focusing on the negatives, you’ll never be happy and it’ll be much more challenging to de-stress. When you’re faced with something that stresses you out, try to think: “What are the positives of this situation?” “Are the negatives really as bad as I’m making them out to be?” You may not be able to make the situation better, but you can improve how you respond to it.

3. Practice relaxation techniques

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Close your eyes, imagine yourself in a calm environment, relax your muscles, and take a few deep breaths. Try to clear your mind by focusing on your breathing rather than whatever is stressing you out. You may feel like just closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths won’t help anything, but it really does!

4. Take time to yourself away from stressors

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What are some things that help you relax? For me, I love cooking/baking and watching my favorite shows on Netflix. Whatever it is you like to spend time doing, take a bit of time out of your day when you’re feeling overwhelmed to enjoy that activity. Whether it’s for ten minutes or two hours, take however long you need to regroup and relax your mind.

5. Accept that there are things you can’t control

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As much as we’d like to be able to control all aspects of our lives, we can’t. There are things like the COVID-19 pandemic that happen and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Stressing out about the things you can’t control won’t help anything. There’s nothing you can do to change the situation, so it’s important to recognize that, realize it’s okay, and do what you can to make the things you can control better for yourself.

6. Take care of your health

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Making sure you’re physically healthy can help improve your mental health. Eating healthy and exercising can help you relax and manage stress. I like going on walks after a long day to unwind and decompress, and I think it really helps me feel better after I’ve had a stressful day!

Stress is extremely common, but manageable. Don’t let it control your life.  Practice the techniques above or let us know what techniques you use to cope with stress in the comments! Remember, tough times don’t last forever, and you’re not alone!

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What I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year

Heading into your freshman year of college is both exciting and nerve wracking. You’re going to a new place filled with new people and experiences. While everyone’s freshman year experience is unique, there are some general words of wisdom from upperclassmen that every freshman should hear before they go to college. Here’s what I, a senior at Millersville, wish I knew my freshman year of college:

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1. Make relationships with your professors

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Professors are there to help you however they can, along with your advisor. Reach out to your professors with questions you have about their course(s), or just general questions you might have about applying for jobs, getting on track for graduation, which classes to take, how to succeed in school, and so on. Making connections with professors will be beneficial to you during and after college, so start reaching out to them!

2. Give yourself time to adjust

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How you study in college will most likely be different from how you studied in high school. There’s more independent work in college, so you’ll be responsible to do more individual work outside of class. Your first semester may not go as you planned, and that’s totally okay! Each semester you’ll learn more about how you study and get work done. You’ll get better at managing your coursework over time, so don’t panic if it takes you a bit of time to get used to college courses.

3. Create a budget for yourself

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I definitely spent more money than I thought I would my freshman year of college. From going out to local restaurants to buying Millersville merch, my bank account looked pretty depressing when summer came around. I’d highly recommend making a budget for yourself and only spending a certain amount of money each week on things that aren’t necessities. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out and treat yourself every now and then, just spend your money wisely.

4. Being an undecided major is totally fine – so is changing your major

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When I went to college, I felt pressured to pick a major and stick with it. I didn’t want to go into college without a plan. Once I got there, I realized that it’s perfectly normal to major undecided or feel uncertain about your major once you take some courses. If you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, it’s okay! Your time in college is meant to be used to find out more about yourself, what you enjoy, and what you want your future to look like. Take advantage of this time and set yourself on the path you want to be on.

5. Enjoy every moment, because time flies

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Don’t take your freshman year of college for granted. Make the most of your time on campus and create memories that will last you a lifetime. Take advantage of everything you can, because it won’t be long before you’re in a cap and gown. Get involved on campus and in the Millersville community while you can. Spend time with people and go out to different stores and restaurants in Lancaster city – or just have a night in and watch Netflix, pop some popcorn, and enjoy yourself! Just try to make every moment meaningful and take advantage of every opportunity that the ‘Ville has to offer.

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10 Rules For Living Your Best Marauder Life

Are you truly living your best life? If that’s a question you have to think about, or if the answer to it is “No”, don’t worry, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn our 10 rules for living your very best marauder life:

1. Leave the past in the past: It can be hard not to dwell on the past, but it’s so much better for you when you don’t. You can’t change the past; the only thing you can control is the present and your future. Accepting what has happened and being hopeful about what will happen will help you move on and enjoy every moment of your life.

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2. Help others: One of the EPPIIC values that members of the Millersville University community live by is compassion. Being compassionate and helping others is a great way to give back and find happiness. Click here to learn about some volunteer opportunities you can take advantage of right now.

3. Remember what you’re working towards: Keep in mind that everything you’re doing has a purpose. Even if you can’t see the benefits of your actions now, they’ll pay off in time. Continue to work hard and set goals for yourself – the results of your work will be worth it!

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4. Love yourself: Life is hectic and stressful. Show yourself some love and give yourself a pat on the back for how you handle all of life’s craziness. Be proud of who you are. Remember to also take time to yourself and do things that make you happy. Click here to read our blog post that includes self care tips that will help you show your mind and body some love.

5. Live your values: Like I mentioned before, Millersville University’s core values are EPPIIC. EPPIIC stands for exploration, professionalism, public mission, inclusion, integrity, and compassion. Marauders should strive to be EPPIIC whenever and however they can, while also reinforcing their own personal values. Click here to read more about EPPIIC values at Millersville.

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