Five Tips for Writing in College

At this point in the semester, you may have written a paper or two.  If you haven’t you may be preparing to write a final paper for a class.  (End of the semester is just six weeks away.)  Here are five tips from a past writing major to keep in mind as you work on your papers.

Writing 1

  1. Pace Yourself

It is too often the case that students wait until the night before to start a paper.  They’ll stay up all night, writing right up until the time it’s due.  Don’t do that!  Start at least a couple weeks in advance.  Take your time to formulate your thoughts and find your resources.  If you spend an hour a night writing you’ll find that in a couple weeks you will be done with time to spare.

  1. Outline

Now that you’ve decided to start sooner than the night before one of the first things you should do is outline.  Here are the basics: The intro paragraph, the body, the conclusion.  The intro should be no longer than half a page.  It should have a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paper.  The rest of the intro should quickly outline each point you hope to hit in the body.  The body will follow the order of the points you outlined in the intro.  Finally, the conclusion is not just a summary of your paper.  The conclusion should be the place where you explain your findings.  It is the culmination of your paper’s viewpoint or argument; it should be the resolution to the problem or topic.

Writing 2

  1. Don’t know how to start?

Sometimes writing the intro is the toughest part of the paper.  If this is the case for you then skip it!  Start with the meat of the paper.  Once you get the ball rolling on the body you’ll find it will be easier for you to go back to the beginning and write the intro.

  1. Draft and Edit

Your first draft should never be what you hand in.  Make sure to re-read and re-work.  Do you need an apostrophe here?  Did you use the wrong word there?  Always draft and edit!

  1. Careful Sourcing

Double check your sources.  Are they reputable?  Or are they some random Tumblr blog?  Don’t use Wikipedia as your main source.  And DO NOT plagiarize.  If you are quoting someone else, make it obvious.  If you want to summarize what someone said, make it obvious.  The best way to do this is to follow the in-text citing guidelines of the style of writing you are using.  Whether it is MLA, APA, or something else there will always be a specific way to cite.  Save yourself a headache. Don’t mistakenly plagiarize by not following style rules, and don’t outright plagiarize.

If you need some help with your writing check out the Writing Center in the Francine G. McNairy Library and Learning Forum here at Millersville University.  They opened in their new Library location on September 18th, and have many tutors to help with all your writing needs.

The Writing Center in McNairy Library.  Photo courtesy Millersville University.

Other Graphics and Photos courtesy of Canva.

Kristi Shorter is an Intern for Millersville University’s Housing and Residential Programs.  She is currently pursuing her Master of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

Things Hollywood Got Wrong: Ten Myths About College

It is important to know when starting college, or looking for a college to go to, that there are some things that TV shows and movies got wrong.  By now you may have noticed some of these things.  Here are ten common college myths.

  1. Everyone is involved in Greek Life in college. Sure, at some schools being a Greek is a big deal and a way of life, it may even be a tradition for a student’s family.  But not every single person joins a fraternity or sorority.  Not all fraternity brothers are obsessed with toga parties (Animal House), and not all sorority sisters are mean or out to get you (Sorority Wars).

Bedroom2. Everyone has a perfectly decorated room. When I think about this, Elle Woods from Legally Blonde automatically comes to mind.  Her room was beautiful!  But I think you’ll find most people don’t go to her lengths to decorate their room.  Also, you will not get away with having a treadmill and your best doggie pal in your room like she did.  You just won’t.

3. People are always taking off to tropical locales over spring break. I think you’ll find that most people just go home and veg out on their parent’s couch.  I did this for the vast majority of my spring breaks in college.  My senior year my friend’s and I went to a relative’s beach house in Jersey, though.  It snowed our second day there.

Party

4. There is a wild party every night of the week and everyone goes. While parties are a given in college, you won’t find some huge rager every night, nor will people be inclined to go out every night.  People do actually stay in and study, or hang out with their friends sober.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

5. Everyone is a mature adult. When I was in high school I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to go to college so I wouldn’t have to deal with my classmate’s immature attitudes.  This wasn’t the case though.  It takes time for people to grow up.  It will take time for YOU to grow up too.  You may not be as mature as you think you are.

6. Everyone is dressed to the nines and looking fine every day. Elle Woods, setting unrealistic expectations again!  You will not be dressed to impress every single day.  Sure there will be those students in your 8am that are well dressed and made up but don’t feel pressure to match them.  Most people wear T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, or sweatpants to class.  Prime example, I wore basketball shorts almost every day my first semester of college, and you better believe if I had an 8am there wasn’t a stitch of makeup on my face!  Some classes are fifty minutes, some are three hours.  Dress comfortably and be ready to learn.

Graduation

7. You must graduate in four years! While this does happen, it is not unheard of to go an extra semester or two (sometimes more).  If you need that extra time don’t be afraid to take it.  It took me five years to graduate, and that’s okay.

8. You have to have your major set in stone from semester one. When you’re eighteen you may not know what you want to do for the rest of your life.  Which means you may switch your major several times before graduation.  You have some wiggle room to figure it out.  Most schools actually want you to have your major picked by the end of your sophomore year.  So come into school undeclared/exploratory studies if you’re unsure what you want to do.

9. Professors are unapproachable, stuffy, mean, unhelpful, etc. Did you ever hear your high school teachers tell you, “Your professors in college won’t care about you as much as we do.”  Well, that is just not true.  Your professors care just as much as your high school teachers about you and your education.  Make it a point to personally introduce yourself in larger classes, go to their office hours to talk or get help, and email them when something comes up and keeps you out of class.  If you build a good working relationship with them you will have someone who is a mentor, a friend, and will write a job/graduate school recommendation for you.

Grade A

10. This one is twofold.  One: Freshmen don’t get A’sTwo: The grades you get in your general education classes, or gen. eds., don’t matter as much as the grades you get in your major-related classes.  Wrong and wrong!  Yes, there is an adjustment that all college freshmen must go through.  Your study habits from high school may not work in college.  The pacing and difficulty level of the courses will be different.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn that A!  Now to the second part of this myth.  ALL OF YOUR CLASSES MATTER.  Whether the class you are taking is a gen. ed. or major-related it will count towards your GPA.  You want and need to do well in your gen. eds.  The gen. eds. also serve to diversify your knowledge base, and make you a well-rounded and well-educated individual.

All photos courtesy of Canva.

Kristi Shorter is an Intern for Millersville University’s Housing and Residential Programs.  She is currently pursuing her Master of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

Five Things to Do In the Residence Halls

Lately, the weather can only be described as weird. Some days are hot. Some are cold. Some are bright and sunny. Some are overcast and rainy. On the less than beautiful weather days, you may find yourself cooped up inside your residence hall. What do you do with your time? Check out the list of possibilities below!

Board Game

1. Board Games

Did you know the halls have board games for students to sign out? Or you can play some of your own. If your roommate is anything like mine was in college they might have brought about twenty different games to school. Gather a group of friends and get to playing! May I suggest my personal favorite, Scattergories?

2. Pool, Foosball, or Ping Pong

The residence halls have pool tables, foosball tables, and ping pong tables scattered throughout the floors. Sign out the equipment from the front desk, gather your neighbors, and maybe put together a competition bracket.

TV

3. TV/Movie Marathon

We all have a Netflix account or know someone who does. Make some popcorn, settle down in your comfy clothes, and binge to your heart’s content. Hang out with your roommate, friends, and neighbors. Make it a regular thing. My freshman year of college it was a weekly event in my wing to sit down and watch the Jersey Shore together. And I’m totally not sorry about it!

4. Music Time

On nights when we were stuck inside and bored out of our minds my roommate and I would get my guitar out and learn to play and sing our favorite songs. Even if you aren’t musically inclined you can still take part in this one. Don’t know how to play an instrument? Go on YouTube and search karaoke. Spend the next few hours doing your best Cher or Drake impression with your buddies! Whether you are teaching yourself to play something new or doing your level best to butcher your favorite karaoke song it should be a good time!

Homework

5. Homework

You had to know I would include this in here. Studying and doing homework is always an option when you’re stuck inside due to weird PA weather! It’s not a bad idea to get that work done when the weather stinks so that when it’s beautiful again you can spend your time outside living life worry-free.

All photos courtesy of Canva.

Kristi Shorter is an Intern for Millersville University’s Housing and Residential Programs.  She is currently pursuing her Master of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

717-871-4200 | housing@millersville.edu