Efficiency in Student Life: Don’t be Fooled by the Busy People

Busyness is often a way to avoid actually doing anything important.  It is much better to follow a comfortable, accessible system to achieve excellent grades with a minimum of stress than to frantically scramble about feeling all grown up but overwhelmed and doing shoddy work.  You will get more out of it, and school will be a hell of a lot more fun.

College Essay Writing: The Secret is Easier Than You Think

Millions of students fret and agonize over their term paper assignments.  Writer’s anxiety forces many to procrastinate and avoid even the first steps of essay writing.  It does not have to be that way.

The secret is that essays are actually quite easy to write, if you follow a set of simple steps.  Mountains of term papers and other essays are written every semester in schools all over the world.  The overwhelming majority of them are pure unreadable garbage.  This means that it doesn’t actually take much to write a stand out paper.  You don’t have to make a major contribution to the literature in your first year term paper.  In fact, if you try you will most certainly fail and get a weak mark to boot.  All you need to do is write a better paper than most of your classmates.  This is easier than you think.

I am not saying you can slack off and hand in a mediocre paper.  On the contrary.  Read the articles on this website, find some other guides to essay writing.  Set up a plan and follow it.  Essay writing is not an exact art, but there are aspects of it that you will find very easy.

Most of all, start right now.  Do not procrastinate, as urgency leads to poor writing and stress.  Good luck.

Write a College Essay: Two Tips to Write a Solid Conclusion

A poorly written conclusion can ruin an essay, while a thoughtful and well written conclusion can maximize the impact of your writing.  It is often the case that students will rush through the final portion of their essay, often due to deadlines or exhaustion.

Like the other aspects of your essay writing process, you need to put careful thought into your conclusion.

TIP#1  Restate Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement defines the goals and purpose of your essay.  This article has some suggestions for perfecting your thesis statement. When you get to the conclusion, you should restate the thesis of the paper with even more clarity.

“This paper has shown that (the sun comes up in the morning).”

In a particularly long paper, it is possible for the reader to get caught up in the details and lose track of the actual point.  Restating your thesis reminds the reader that all the information you have just given her is in support of your argument.  This wraps up the paper nicely, and makes your essay much stronger.

TIP#2  Restate Your Key Points

Once you have restated your thesis, your conclusion should summarize the key points of your essay.  For example:

‘This paper has shown that the sun comes up in the morning.  First, it showed that the sun comes up after dark, which is night.  Second, it showed that morning follows night.  Third, it showed that the sun is already up when afternoon or evening begin.  Therefore, the evidence supports that the sun does, in fact, come up in the morning’

It is important to note that you should never introduce new information or arguments in the conclusion of your essay.  If you have more to say, you should do so in the body of the essay.

Of course, your paper will be about a more serious and less obvious topic.  But your conclusion should make sure that the reader knows exactly what you were trying to say, and exactly which points you made in support of your argument.  If you take the time to write a conclusion that summarizes your paper and strengthens your argument, your writing and grades will improve.


Writing a Great Essay: Reading Materials

When you have a research essay assignment, you will need to be proactive in gathering reading materials quickly and efficiently.  If you have the same topic as your classmates, or have to choose from a short list of topics, your task will be all the more urgent.  If you wait until the last week before the assignment is due, the library will have been raided by your peers.

For every essay I wrote I gathered a big pile of books and articles that related to the topic.  This does not mean that I would actually read, cover to cover, two dozen books for a single essay.  What I would do is follow a system for assessing and reading academic books, outlined in 323-841-8960.

Similarly, I would take an afternoon or two and make a big pile of journals and other periodicals for assessment and note taking.  I followed the system outlined in this article to get through that reading process as well.

Combined, it is possible to have an understanding of a fair portion of the academic literature on a topic, all within a couple of days of hard work.  On top of that, you will have notes and quotes for all of that information, tools which will be very useful when you start writing.

Once you have finished all your reading, it would be a mistake to immediately begin writing.  Wait a few days before starting.  That will allow your brain to process all the information you have covered.  You will likely find, as I did, that you will have an unexpected idea about how to write your paper while doing something completely different (waiting for the bus, working out, watching television).  As one of my best professor’s was fond of saying, “Thinking is research too.”

Research is a central part of good academic essay writing.  Take the time to read a lot on a topic before you start, and also take the time to think about it before you begin.  Needless to say, writing a good essay means absolutely not waiting until the last possible moment to begin.


Procrastination is one of the most difficult barriers for a student to overcome in writing a good quality essay.  I am no exception, and early in my student career I would put off writing until the night before the paper was due.  This was not a recipe for high grades or satisfying work.  It was also extremely vulnerable to random outside problems like a power failure or running out of printer ink.

In my experience, the most effective way to defeat your impulse to procrastinate is to create short deadlines for small pieces of a big project.  Once you meet the deadline, procrastinate for awhile until the next micro-deadline looms.  In this way you can make progress on a term paper, avoiding the stressful and intense last minute scramble that most students experience.

There are many steps to writing a paper, these 8655564326 312-481-7193 help you with planning your timeline.  The best thing you can do is get started right away, and do the work in small, easily completed steps.  You will enjoy the process much more, your paper will be much better quality, and you will learn more from your education.


Essay writing is challenging, intimidating, and it can have an impact on your grades and future prospects.  It is no surprise that many students choose to cheat, either by plagiarism or having someone else write the essay for them.  Aside from the very obvious ethical issues, these students are ultimately cheating themselves.

Simply having a degree or other certification is not enough to stand out in the working world.  More people than ever before have some kind of post-secondary education.  The people who will do well in life are those who made the most of that education.

It is possible for many people, in many schools, to coast through a degree.  By ‘coast’ I mean ‘get by’ with a low average, putting in the minimum amount of work necessary to pass a course.  While it is true that many employers will not look beyond the possession of a degree in hiring, all employers will look at performance once you are hired.

A person who spend years getting by doing the minimum in their education is fairly likely to do the same in their work.  A person who made the most of her education, took on every challenge, is going to have more skills, drive and ability than her peers.  Ten years into the future, the difference in accomplishments will be dramatic.

A student who cheats on an essay will not learn the key communication and reasoning skills that essay writing can give him.  If he applies himself to the challenge, no matter how intimidating, he will be getting maximum benefit from his education.

College essay writing is not just another hoop to jump through before getting some kind of certification.  The ability to organize and present your thoughts in a coherent, accessible manner is a crucial life skill.  Those who have trained themselves to do this in the relatively low-risk environment of an educational institution will out-achieve and outperform the cheaters and slackers later in life.

Of course, cheaters also run the risk of being caught.  Expulsion or other penalties are simply not worth the risk.  But even getting away with cheating is not worth the stress.  If you cheat, you set yourself up to fail.  If not at school, then certainly later in life.

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There is no larger mistake in writing a paper than failing to use proper citations.  Academics take these things seriously, and so should you.

Most instructors prefer either MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) for citations.  Some strongly favor one or the other, some only want you to be consistent.  Find out what your instructor prefers and follow the rules to the letter.

For MLA guidelines check out the following links:

SFU Guidelines


For APA Check out the following:


APA Style Website

For a list of other styles and guides go to the following site:


Getting Top Grades in College: The Value of a Locker

Many students complain of being too busy, never having `downtime` and becoming stressed and unhappy.  This often results from poor boundaries between home and school.  This is also a problem for many people in the working world.

For students, the solution is actually quite simple.  Use a locker and never go home until you have done enough work.  How much is `enough` is a question you will need to answer yourself, but a good rule of thumb is to work until you feel caught up.  Of course, you need to start something like this in the first week of school if it is to work.

The best way to keep a healthy balance, in my experience, is to keep a locker at school.  Leave your school work in the locker when you leave.  When students bring books and other work home, even with the best of intentions, they create additional stress and unhappiness for themselves.

With a pile of homework, a student always feels like she should be doing her work rather than relaxing.  Any work that does get finished takes three times as long as it would at the library or somewhere without distractions.  Stress increases and the student never feels as if she can relax.

The student who finishes her work at school can go home and rest.  A television show or a night out is not a cause for worry, because the work is done.

If you use a locker and maintain a healthy balance between home and work, your grades will improve.  You will be much more relaxed, much healthier and much happier than most of your peers.


For a new student, essay writing can be an intimidating prospect.  Many students dread the process of writing so much they end up avoiding it as long as possible.  Inevitably, the final result is a hastily prepared, poorly written essay with a weak grade.

A low grade contributes to more insecurity and more procrastination.  It can be a vicious cycle and you should do your best to escape it.  However, the urge to procrastinate is powerful and can be used toward good writing and great essays.

Write Your Paper in Stages

Instead of trying to do the whole thing in one sitting, spread your work out over weeks or even months.  Break the research and writing process into a few discrete stages with short but separate deadlines.  For example:

  1. Choose Your Topic (See 289-283-6897 article for tips on picking a topic)
  2. Wait a week or two.
  3. Put together a list of possible journal articles and/or books to read
  4. Wait a week.
  5. Sit down with a pile of journal articles (See This article for tips on journal article reading)
  6. Wait a week.
  7. Pick and read a pile of books on your topic. (See This article for tips on how to read an academic book)
  8. Lay out your outline
  9. Write your paper

By leaving time between each stage you force yourself to start early.  Waiting (procrastinating) between stages allows your brain to process the information you have gathered and develop conclusions while you work or play at other things.

Leave Plenty of Time for Writing

Once you get to the writing stage, break it down into smaller steps as well.  Be sure to leave lots of procrastination gaps in this step as well.  You will serve yourself best if you start a paper at least a week, if not two weeks in advance.

  1. Write the outline and introduction
  2. Procrastinate
  3. Write a section or two
  4. Procrastinate
  5. Write the conclusion
  6. Print it, put it on a shelf and don`t look at it for a few days
  7. Re-read it for errors, typos and flaws
  8. Make revisions
  9. Give the paper to a friend to read for errors
  10. Make revisions
  11. Turn in a top notch paper

Breaking the work down into small, manageable steps allows you to hack your urge to avoid a daunting project.  Don`t do the whole thing, just get one small step out of the way then get to things you enjoy more.  The best part is that your paper will be much more thought out and better written.

The catch, of course, is that you must start early.  Procrastinate strategically but don`t wait to start.  You will thank yourself for it when your essay grades improve dramatically.

College Essays: A Word About Clarity

Clarity in writing is essential to achieving top grades on college essays.  If your instructor cannot understand what you are trying to say, your grade will suffer.  If your essay is full of complicated sentences and linguistic curlicues then your grade will suffer.  A clearly written, easily understood essay will always be welcomed by the reader.

Most Essays are Awful

The painful truth is that most term papers are very hard to read.  Writers who lack confidence will often ramble on about topics without saying anything clearly.  Writers will lose track of their thoughts partway through a paper and spend pages discussing irrelevancies.  In the midst of a stack of unreadable muck, a clearly written and easily understood essay will be very well received.

Write Simple Sentences

Save the half-page sentences for the experts.  Your essay should have simple, accessible sentences.  Avoid the passive voice.  If you find yourself adding multiple commas, split the ideas into two or more sentences.  Never repeat words in the same sentence.  And never say in five words what can be said in two.

Edit With A Sharp Knife

Once you have written your first draft, wait a day or two before editing.  Once you do edit, cut out everything that does not serve the goals of your paper.  Eliminate unnecessary words and sentences.  Make sure that every paragraph is clear and easily understood.  One strategy I have used is to find at least one word to delete from every sentence.  (NOTE: You will often find yourself revising the entire paper as you edit.  This is a good thing).

Wait a couple more days, then do it again.  Ideally, print the paper out and edit in hardcopy.  For some reason, most people are more able to spot errors and typos in hardcopy rather than on a screen.  Find and eliminate every error.  Rewrite and revise with the goal of simplicity and making every single word serve the arguments of your paper (i.e. the thesis statement).

Get a Proofreader

Have a friend read your paper with a red pen.  Do not be defensive, think of it as getting an extra brain to make you look smarter.  Tell your friend to be brutal and find every error. Again, go through and fix or respond to every comment.  Your friend might not be correct, but at least you will have a chance to see the paper through the eyes of someone else.

Make your paper as clear and straightforward as humanly possible.  Remember, most other students will not make this effort.  In fact, most of them will turn in the first draft, which they finished writing an hour before it was due.  Your clear, thoroughly edited paper will shine like a diamond in the rough, and your grades will be well rewarded.