Some students make a very smooth transition from writing in high school to writing for college; yet others struggle with adjusting to a more analytical format. While you may have received a set of guidelines for preparing your essays in high school, the expectations and structure of your paper will be much different once you enter college-level academia. That being said, you can use the remainder of your high school career as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with college papers and grow your writing skills.
How to Write a College Paper While You’re Still in High School
High school writing tends to put high value on a student’s opinions on a certain subject matter; while there will certainly be a few opinion-pieces throughout your college career, much of your writing will need to be factually researched and supported. Your college professors will want clear evidence to support your thesis, not your opinion. Using MLA format, you will need to track research and resources to include data, quotes and information to effectively guide the reader through your thesis, which we discuss in further detail below.
The Thesis Statement
If you haven’t already heard of the ‘thesis statement,’ it won’t be long until you’re assigned a paper with the expectation of including one in your writing. Before you get too concerned, it’s much less complex than it gives off in the first impression. In fact, it’s likely that you may already be including one in your introduction. A thesis statement is purely a sentence or two in your introduction that states your point of view on the topic you have chosen to research and analyze in your writing.
Structure & Format
In high school you’re expected to create your essays around three main points and a five paragraph structure. However, in college the expectations will likely expand past this point. While you’ll certainly have to support your topic and claim, you won’t be required to structure your papers around a predetermined number of supporting points.
Now, you may be wondering why your high school put the five paragraph essay on such a high pedestal for so long if the structure and format drastically changes once you hit college. While the five paragraph format was a useful organizational strategy for young writers who are just learning how to prioritize their writing, a college-level format will empower you to get in touch with your creativity and further emphasize your thesis with evidential research.
Making the transition from high school to college is sure to post a challenge, but if you make an effort to follow the style guidelines, format and structure that are established in college, you will feel more comfortable writing papers in no time.