List Of The 15 Best Writing Strategies And Examples
When you’re a writer , you need to know the best strategies to get your reader’s attention and hold onto it.
The goal is to get them hooked on your content, so they’ll want to read more.
Only then can you cultivate a relationship that serves you both.
So, how do you do that (without actually hypnotizing them)?
You learn different writing strategies, applied to advantage by the pros, and work on making them your own.
The first question to answer is, “What is a writing strategy?”
What Are the Different Types of Writing Strategies?
1. start with a strong hook. , 2. give your opening paragraph a strong sense of direction. , 3. be authentic in every sentence. , 4. create a reader avatar. , 5. create an outline. , 6. have fun with it. , 7. start a dialogue with your reader. , 8. get time on your side. , 9. prioritize clarity. , 10. break it up with visuals. , 11. put your reader to the test., 12. dazzle them with surprising facts. , 13. add interesting quotes from authorities in the field. , 14. ask questions to get your readers thinking , 15. tell your reader a story. , which writing strategies will you use.
A strategy is a general plan — or set of plans — you make to achieve a goal. So, a writing strategy involves tactics you use to ensure your writing meets the goals you’ve set for it.
Your number one goal is to capture and hold onto your reader’s interest. Your related goals will depend on the overall purpose of your writing:
- To sell something (and make money)
- To motivate your reader to do something
- To evoke an emotional response (pathos, anger, levity, etc.)
While the reason for your writing goal can vary, the goal itself does not. And the sooner you learn how to put the following 15 writing strategies into practice, the sooner your audience will grow.
List of the Best 15 Writing Strategies with Examples
No doubt, you’ve already become familiar with some of these time-tested examples of writing strategies. It’s what you don’t (yet) know that can hold you back and limit your influence.
That’s about to change.
Your first sentence should hook your reader and make them curious enough to read the second sentence, which should lead them irresistibly to the third, and so on.
That first sentence should grab hold of their interest and get them thinking, “I need to know what will come next.” Your entire opening hook doesn’t have to consist of one sentence, but a few sentences at most should suffice to get under your reader’s skin.
Strong hooks can include any of the following:
- Probing or rhetorical questions
- Bold claims
“Did you know every year the amount of garbage we toss into the ocean is three times the weight of fish caught?” (statistic)
Your first paragraph should clearly communicate the direction of your piece. And it should give the reader a reason to care about it. They should want to know more and feel compelled to see what you’ll reveal. Give them a reason to feel invested.
Otherwise, they might bookmark your page to “save it for later,” but we all know what that usually means. It’s the internet version of walking away.
“As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers. However, if you want your first crabbing experience to be a successful one, you must come prepared.”
– (Mary Zeigler, “How to Catch River Crabs” )
Come as you are. This is not a place to show off or pretend to be someone else. Try to trick your reader, and they’ll most likely leave and never return. So, ix-nay on the bait and switch. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and give them what you know they would want.
Be genuine, and show that you care as much about their time as you do about yours.
“I haven’t wanted to call myself a functional alcoholic . For just a second, the word “functional” makes it easier to accept the word that comes after it.
“Then the reality hits: I’m not as functional as I’d like to think. And being an alcoholic means having to give up alcohol….”
Design an ideal reader based on what you know — including demographic info (married/single, age range, interests, culture, politics, geographical area). Then write as if addressing a respected friend.
Don’t assume your reader can’t figure stuff out, but don’t use ten-dollar words when one-dollar words will do. Write the way you would talk in a friendly conversation.
Ideal reader Alexis is a health-conscious socialite in her mid-twenties. Her interests include public relations, fashion, and social media (mainly Instagram). She reads to stay well-informed about things that matter to her. She’s visually oriented. Her dream is to work in New York as a successful public relations professional.
The easiest way to make sure you make all your points in a logical, easy-to-follow manner is to start with an outline, breaking down your work into smaller, more focused sections. Use your outline to plan your subheadings and brainstorm content ideas.
As you add content, you can connect each thought, making every sentence earn its place and respect its neighbors to ensure each thought flows effortlessly to the next.
I. Why soy candles are healthier than paraffin.
- All natural (no toxic chemicals)
- Supports U.S. soy farmers
- Cleaner, cooler burn with less soot
II. 5 Best Sources of Ethically-Made Soy Candles
III. 3 Candle-Making Charities That Support Women
If you’re not all that interested in what you’re writing, your reader will pick up on that. Boredom is contagious. The good news? The opposite is even more so. Find something to love about what you’re writing, and your reader will feel your excitement and lean in.
The more fun you have with the writing, the more your audience will enjoy reading it.
- Include a fun, illustrative bit of dialogue.
- Paint a (word) picture your reader will want to be a part of.
- Lead with the thing that excites you (an interesting bit of news, etc.)
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Remember that bit about seeing your reader as a respected friend? The more you see your article or blog post as a friendly conversation with your reader, the easier (and more fun) it will be to write, and the more invested you’ll feel in being as helpful as possible.
Imagine a friendly, animated dialogue with your ideal reader and write as you hear the words in your head.
“I’m glad you’re here. I have so many questions! First, I have to ask, how do you feel about zombie fiction? I have a theory, and you can tell me if I’m wrong.
“For starters, I’ll make the bold guess that if you’re reading this blog, you’re not into the gory, graphic zombie violence some shows glory in. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’re more of an I Zombie fan. Because you’re not an all-or-nothing thinker.
“Here’s where I’m going with this…”
It can only benefit you to address timely issues that matter to your reader. If you’re writing about a subject that’s dominating the headlines, put your own creative spin on it to make it stand out. What can you bring to the subject that few or no one else can?
Make the subject more personal to your reader, and your content will be timeless.
“It’s happened! The results of the 2020 election are finally in, and people around the world (not to mention over half the U.S. population) are celebrating, crying tears of relief, and dancing in the streets for joy.
“So, what comes next? Specifically, what comes next for you? ”
Know your message and express it with clarity, simplicity, and elegance. Every thought should be organic, and every sentence’s meaning should be unmistakable. Confuse your reader, and they’re far more likely to stop reading and move on.
Don’t make them work to decipher what you’re trying to say. It’s not their job.
Examples of strategies for writing with clarity:
- Know your message, and write with intention.
- Know your audience and speak their language.
- Define your (unfamiliar) terms.
- Use your punctuation wisely (especially commas).
- Use strong , active, and carefully-chosen verbs.
If all you’re giving your reader is a long succession of paragraphs with some subheads thrown in, consider adding some relevant visuals — images, graphs, infographics, tables, diagrams, etc. Give their brain a brief but meaningful eye-candy break.
By varying the delivery of helpful information, you hit “refresh” on their attention and keep them curious.
Examples of effective visuals:
- Infographics or diagrams to visually illustrate your points
- Images that set the mood and make your content more relatable
- Graphs and tables to show organized and relevant data.
Include an interesting quiz/test for your reader to take, with a result they can share. Give them a chance to test their knowledge while they learn something new. Quizzes that give them a result they can feel good about and make your content more memorable.
Challenge your reader with questions that make them think, and they’re more likely to respect and remember you.
Examples of quiz ideas:
“How compatible are you and your partner?”
“How much do you know about climate change?”
“What crystals are best for your personality?”
Throw in some juicy facts to make your readers think, “Wow! I didn’t know that.” Keep them short and easy to remember and make sure they add value to your whole piece. It should feel organic — not like it came out of nowhere.
Your reader shouldn’t have to wonder if they accidentally clicked on a different link.
- Surprising statistics about bullying to reconsider “zero-tolerance” policies.
- The truth about “German” chocolate cake in a post on a beloved family recipe.
- Daniel Radcliffe’s allergy to his Harry Potter glasses in a post on unusual allergies.
Quotes from well-known authorities can add credibility to your piece if it bolsters one of the points you’re making. Depending on your quote choice, It can also add a touch of humor or pathos to draw your reader in and encourage a stronger connection.
A short, powerful quote can make your work more memorable by association.
- Shocking or funny quotes from famous authors in a post on the creative process.
- Quotes from famous fictional sleuths in a post about cozy mysteries.
- Quotes from disgruntled politicians in a post about running for office.
Another way to make your reader feel more invested in what they’re reading is to ask them questions about something that matters to them.
Get them thinking about the answer, and they’ll be more likely to feel a need to answer it or find the answer in what you’ve written. And if your answer satisfies them, or if their own answer leads to other meaningful discoveries, they’re likely to come back for more.
- Questions about your reader’s writing process in a post on the same.
- Questions on your reader’s biggest fears in a post about anxiety
- Questions on favorite scents and related memories in a post about candles.
Everyone loves a good story . Introduce a compelling story early on in your post (or chapter), and your reader is much more likely to keep reading. Your story should closely relate to the rest of your content, so it can communicate useful information while it entertains your audience. Keep it short, relevant, and memorable.
- A brief fable that teaches a moral lesson
- A brief story from your past that illustrates a point you’re trying to make
- A short, funny story that leads to a surprising revelation
Now that you’re more familiar with the 15 best writing strategies, how will this change the way you write from now on? What strategies will you implement in your next project?
The best part about using these strategies is their potential for making the writing itself more enjoyable and fulfilling for you — as well as more engaging for your reader.
May your skill and influence grow as you put these strategies to work.
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- Tips for Organizing Your Essay
If you are used to writing essays that are similar to the five-paragraph essay (one claim and then three points that support that claim), it can be daunting to think about how to structure your ideas in a longer essay. Once you’ve established your thesis, you need to think about how you will move your reader through your argument. In some courses, you will be expected to provide a roadmap in your introduction that explicitly tells readers how your argument is organized. But even when you don’t provide a roadmap, your reader should be able to see the connections between your ideas. As you think about how your ideas fit together, try these three strategies:
Strategy #1: Decompose your thesis into paragraphs
A clear, arguable thesis will tell your readers where you are going to end up, but it can also help you figure out how to get them there. Put your thesis at the top of a blank page and then make a list of the points you will need to make to argue that thesis effectively.
For example, consider this example from the thesis handout : While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake”(54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well”(51) is less convincing.
To argue this thesis, the author needs to do the following:
- Show what is persuasive about Sandel’s claims about the problems with striving for perfection.
- Show what is not convincing about Sandel’s claim that we can clearly distinguish between medically necessary enhancements and other enhancements.
Once you have broken down your thesis into main claims, you can then think about what sub-claims you will need to make in order to support each of those main claims. That step might look like this:
- Evidence that Sandel provides to support this claim
- Discussion of why this evidence is convincing even in light of potential counterarguments
- Discussion of cases when medically necessary enhancement and non-medical enhancement cannot be easily distinguished
- Analysis of what those cases mean for Sandel’s argument
- Consideration of counterarguments (what Sandel might say in response to this section of your argument)
Each argument you will make in an essay will be different, but this strategy will often be a useful first step in figuring out the path of your argument.
Strategy #2: Use subheadings, even if you remove then later
Scientific papers generally include standard subheadings to delineate different sections of the paper, including “introduction,” “methods,” and “discussion.” Even when you are not required to use subheadings, it can be helpful to put them into an early draft to help you see what you’re written and to begin to think about how your ideas fit together. You can do this by typing subheadings above the sections of your draft.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how your ideas fit together, try beginning with informal subheading like these:
- Explain the author’s main point
- Show why this main point doesn’t hold up when we consider this other example
- Explain the implications of what I’ve shown for our understanding of the author
- Show how that changes our understanding of the topic
For longer papers, you may decide to include subheadings to guide your reader through your argument. In those cases, you would need to revise your informal subheadings to be more useful for your readers. For example, if you have initially written in something like “explain the author’s main point,” your final subheading might be something like “Sandel’s main argument” or “Sandel’s opposition to genetic enhancement.” In other cases, once you have the key pieces of your argument in place, you will be able to remove the subheadings.
Strategy #3: Create a reverse outline from your draft
While you may have learned to outline a paper before writing a draft, this step is often difficult because our ideas develop as we write. In some cases, it can be more helpful to write a draft in which you get all of your ideas out and then do a “reverse outline” of what you’ve already written. This doesn’t have to be formal; you can just make a list of the point in each paragraph of your draft and then ask these questions:
- Are those points in an order that makes sense to you?
- Are there gaps in your argument?
- Do the topic sentences of the paragraphs clearly state these main points?
- Do you have more than one paragraph that focuses on the same point? If so, do you need both paragraphs?
- Do you have some paragraphs that include too many points? If so, would it make more sense to split them up?
- Do you make points near the end of the draft that would be more effective earlier in your paper?
- Are there points missing from this draft?
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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing
- Mark Rennella
It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.
The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?
- Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
- In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
- For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
- Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).
Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .
Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.
- MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .
35 Effective Writing Strategies for College Level
Graduating from high school and entering college, you may feel intimidated by the upcoming courses. As you wait for the first essay or another writing task, you might feel completely overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective writing strategies to help you get through your homework in one piece. And no, walking around and asking your peers “Will you do an assignment for me ?” isn’t one of them.
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What strategies are helpful for college-level writing assignments? The ones that explain you the following:
- how your brain works;
- how to minimize distractions;
- how to keep yourself motivated;
This article covers them and explores the essential elements of college essay writing, such as research, structuring, and revising.
Look through these writing strategies for college students from our custom writing service . Select the ones you feel will work the best for you and use them in your tasks.
🔎 Conducting Research
Every writing starts with prewriting. Whether you choose your topic or a topic is assigned, your first task is to know how to perform research properly. You have to gather relevant sources to craft a thorough and informative essay. The process might begin with you examining your assigned topic or selecting one.
Your goal here is to collect as much appropriate information as possible. Here is a list of writing strategies to help you do that.
- Whenever possible, choose a topic of interest. In the case you are assigned a specific topic, you can still choose an interesting angle or an unusual perspective.
- Always feel free to ask for help. While this might not seem like one of the most obvious writing strategies, don’t be afraid of asking. If you don’t think you know how to follow the requirements, you should question your instructor.
- Make good use of the Internet. If your professor has provided any links as sources, then you should use them for sure and expand from there. Remember to use only credible sources. Not all guidelines, articles, and research on the Internet are provided by writing professionals or experts in your subject matter. And remember that the Internet can be an incredible source of inspiration. The Muse can jump out from where you least expect it. Sometimes the social media sites, such as Pinterest or Reddit, can be quite inspiring and useful.
- Visit a library . They are still very relevant when researching for an assignment. A library is an incredibly valuable place if you have to get a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Start in the reference section and make use of available resources. Search the library’s catalog. Finally, take a trip to “the stacks” and browse the shelves in your subject area to see what titles are available.
Owl Purdue also provides some great tips on how to conduct research. And now that you’ve got it, you have to move on to the next stage. Do something with all those sources and information you have uncovered.
🏁 Getting Started
Sometimes, getting started is the most challenging part of a writing assignment, especially when you have to pick your topic. Knowing what is expected of you and having a good idea of what interests you are crucial.
But that’s not all:
Effective writing strategies include learning brainstorming techniques that will help you narrow down your essay topic and sift through the information you found. Then, you should be able to identify only relevant and up to date information.
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Check out the following writing strategies for college students that offer brainstorming techniques and teach you how to start organizing that information.
- Use the free-writing technique. It is the first of the helpful strategies to master your writing skills. Take a pen and a piece of paper, relax, and just write down your stream of consciousness for a selected topic. It can be clumsy or grammatically incorrect, but who cares if it works for you and helps you to focus. Try to generate as many ideas relevant to your topic as possible. Never mind how good they are. At this stage, the more concepts, the better. Write down even the silliest ideas coming to your head. Set a timer if you wish. When your time is over, carefully check what you have written and evaluate it. Choose only the best ideas to include in your homework.
- Try mind-mapping. In the middle of the paper sheet, draw your question and use lines to connect that question to relevant ideas, words, and images. These elements might branch out to other concepts. Write them all down and connect one to another. In such a way, you will find out the trend in the ideas that will help direct you in researching and writing your paper.
- Begin constructing paragraphs. Sometimes the most challenging part of writing is to start. Use the information and data from your research and brainstorming sessions. You can distribute the information you have chosen to use between paragraphs. Note how many parts you will need and which points you will use in each.
- Come up with a topic sentence . You need one for each paragraph. Topic sentences are handy when you want to save time because it provides you with a summary of what you wish to include in the section
Well, it is time for the main event. Stayed tuned for strategies that will help you better understand the act of writing.
✍️ The Writing
Yes, it is inevitable. You do have to begin writing now. As long as you have done the previous steps well, you will be well organized and prepared.
But here’s the thing:
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Writing can still be a complicated process , even when you know the above techniques. For this reason, you need to have a good grasp of the following writing strategies to ensure you can compose something that is intelligent and expresses your views appropriately.
- Use an active voice whenever possible. Towson University gives an excellent description of active and passive voice in writing. Writing in the active voice demonstrates that there is a subject (someone or something) and that this subject is conduction the action expressed by the verb. The opposite is when the subject is being acted upon, which is the passive voice. Keep in mind that the active voice is much more potent and is the preferred option.
- Minimize the use of “there is/there are.” Do not hide the doer of the action using these phrases. (For example, you have to write “Three ways exist to tackle the problem” instead of writing “There are three ways to tackle the problem.”)
- Start quoting with the author’s name. Do not confuse your readers by starting sentences with phrases like “It has been…,” like “It has been hypothesized that…” A reader cannot understand who has done the hypothesizing. Since a hypothesis must have an author, start your sentence with the author’s name and give the proper reference at the end of the sentence: “John Doe hypothesized that…(Doe, 2005)”
- Avoid redundant words. You should delete any redundant words, such as “completely,” “extremely,” and “absolutely” in the majority of situations.
- Make sure your writing is clear. The reader needs to understand all the points you have made.
- Ensure your writing is concise. Avoid using general statements to make your readers think that there is more valuable information than there actually is; stick to the point.
- Make your writing precise. Your written work has to communicate the meaning you intend to get across to the reader.
- Remember that accuracy is vital. Be sure to double-check facts before using them.
- Approach your writing with honesty. Good writing has to be free of prejudice and has to reference all sources of information.
- Don’t edit while you are writing. Otherwise, you will interrupt the flow. You can save the editing until after you are finished writing your rough draft.
- Don’t be afraid to skip an introduction . If you have difficulty writing it, leave it for now. It is OK to start writing with the essay’s body and go back to the introduction when you are ready.
- Be sure to look up synonyms for words you find repetitive. The significant thing is the use of different vocabulary when writing. It’s amazing how effective and inspiring a synonyms search can be. Look for them in online dictionaries or choose the suggestion option in MS Word.
The writing will take care of itself, as long as you can focus.
🤔 Staying Focused
It is easy to lose focus when you are working. Either you are becoming tired and lacking concentration or procrastinating. Finding other things to do than settling down to write can seem desirable. You should focus and be highly productive during your work time.
How do you accomplish this?
These tips for struggling writers are some of the writing skills that are useful in college. They can help you stay focused:
- Work with the rhythms of your brain. The human brain goes through a process called the ultradian cycle. It takes you through periods of active concentration and focuses and then into periods during which it needs rest. Fast Company explains that the natural cycle is to work for 90 minutes and rest your mind for 20 minutes. You will then be energized enough to work for another 90 minutes. If you take advantage of this natural cycle, you will always be working at peak efficiency, and you won’t lose focus and waste your time.
- Incorporate physical activity into your breaks. When you do take some rest during your writing time, doing some form of exercise is essential. Stand up and do a couple of stretches or go for a walk. Sing, dance, wave your hands, or even scream. It will help you wake up and complete your essay as soon as possible.
- Try listening to music . If you are working in a place with various distractions, it is a good idea. Music can help you reduce tension and concentrate. Make sure you don’t start singing because it can be very distracting. Choose tracks without lyrics or songs in another language.
- Block out all potential distractions. If you don’t need to use the Internet, then work offline. If you need access to the Internet to do research, close any tabs related to your email and social media. Oh, and turn off your phone! All the Twitter updates and text messages can wait. Avoid drinking too much liquid because bathroom breaks can be very disruptive. Avoid anything that could distract you during a work session.
- Plan something fun to do for after you are done with your work. Sometimes, an immediate reward means a lot. Think of what you will do after you finish that essay because this will motivate you to write faster. Promise yourself that you will take a walk, eat a treat, or call a friend. Then your writing will move at lightning speed. Knowing that you have to complete your project by a particular time can be very motivating, but knowing you have something exciting to do when it’s done can be even more motivating. With this in mind, just get your work done and enjoy life!
- Use the carrot and stick method to keep yourself motivated. This approach is practical. Praise yourself if you start early and punish yourself if you fail to start on time. Be ruthless. Stick options include not using Facebook for a day or two or working out longer than one hour. Carrot options could be eating a nice treat or watching your favorite series or funny cat videos.
- Think of the worst consequences of failing that assignment. Let these motivate you. What might happen if things go wrong? Will you fail the entire course? Will you have to drop out of college?
- Compete with someone. Suggest to one or more classmates that you compete in writing your assignments to see who can get theirs done first. Of course, it’s not the most exciting game ever, but since you have to write the essay anyway, a little competitive spirit might just improve your time management.
Now you are done writing, but there is still more to do…
📑 After the Writing
You have finished writing, and it’s brilliant! Or is it? Just because you have finished writing doesn’t mean your essay is done. You still have work to do because strategies for good writing include the following tips.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread! Now is the best time to start re-reading the paper and editing it, making any necessary changes. When revising, the University of Pennsylvania recommends you begin with fixing the big things, like organization and content. Then adjust the details, such as spelling and grammar.
- Nail the format. Chances are one of the conditions for submitting your assignment includes a precise style of formatting. Make sure that font and margins are correct. For help with formatting, check out this guide to formatting .
- Check your reference list and quotes. These are the must-have for academic writing. Be sure you have inserted all the citations and references you have used while writing your paper. For help on including them in your work, check out these articles on APA style and MLA style .
📰 Practice Essays
If you are still unsure about the above writing strategies, you can always choose to write one or two practice essays. While this sounds like it’s a lot of extra work, doing so will help you sharpen your college-level writing skills so that when you write your assignment, you will do a better job. Here are some activities for struggling writers that will help you write a practice composition.
- Prepare several pieces of paper . Writing your practice essays may be more manageable on the sheets than in MS Word. Paper lacks distractions.
- Surf the web to find practice essay topics. You may use any search engine and type in something like “topics for essays.” Pick a subject according to your grade level.
- Use the five-paragraph essay structure. Even in your practice writing, you cannot escape the academic organization.
- Pay attention to details. Keep in mind other critical criteria of composition evaluation like content, grammar, and style. You have to show your literacy.
Writing assignments don’t have to be scary, but you have to grasp the right writing strategies. Just click on this video to see how stress-free it can be.
If you are still struggling with writing when assigned an essay or another type of paper, you can find more help with Harvard College . You can also hire a custom writing company that knows how to help struggling writers.
Regardless of how you produce your assignment, you will have a top-notch paper to hand in to your professor. And thanks for reading! Share our writing strategies with those who may need them.
- Useful Revising and Editing Checklists
- Essay Checklist: How to Write an A+ Essay
- Common Mistakes in Essay Writing
- How to Control Words per Page
- Basic Writing Rules – Common Mistakes & Fixes
- 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good”
- List of Credible Sources
- An Ultimate Punctuation Guide
- Writing Strategies: Ministry of Education (Ontario, Canada)
- The Basics of Essay Writing: UNSW
- The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay: Thought Co.
- Example Five-Paragraph Essay: UW Libraries
- 50 Conducting Research: WU Libraries
- Brainstorming: UNC Writing Center
- Academic Writing Style: USC Libraries
- Formatting a Research Paper: UMN Libraries
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Beautiful content! Thx for sharing!
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Very helpful, thanks so much for sharing.
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Using the RAFT Writing Strategy
About this Strategy Guide
This strategy guide introduces the RAFT technique and offers practical ideas for using this technique to teach students to experiment with various perspectives in their writing.
Strategy in practice, related resources.
The more often students write, the more proficient they become as writers. RAFT is a writing strategy that helps students understand their role as a writer and how to effectively communicate their ideas and mission clearly so that the reader can easily understand everything written. Additionally, RAFT helps students focus on the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the topic they'll be writing about. By using this strategy, teachers encourage students to write creatively, to consider a topic from multiple perspectives, and to gain the ability to write for different audiences. In the book, Strategic Writing , Deborah Dean explains that writing for differing purposes and audiences may require using different genres, different information, and different strategies. Developing a sense of audience and purpose in writing, in all communication, is an important part of growth as a writer.
RAFT assignments encourage students to uncover their own voices and formats for presenting their ideas about content information they are studying. Students learn to respond to writing prompts that require them to think about various perspectives:
- R ole of the Writer: Who are you as the writer? A movie star? The President? A plant?
- A udience: To whom are you writing? A senator? Yourself? A company?
- F ormat: In what format are you writing? A diary entry? A newspaper? A love letter?
- T opic: What are you writing about?
Santa, C., Havens, L., & Valdes, B. (2004). Project CRISS : Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies . Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.
Dean, Deborah. 2006. Strategic Writing: The Writing Process and Beyond in the Secondary English Classroom . Urbana, IL: NCTE.
- Explain to your students the various perspectives writers must consider when completing any writing assignment. Examples of different roles, audiences, formats, and topics can be found in a list of Picture Book RAFTs by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey .
- For instance, if students are reading To Kill a Mockingbird , you may have students respond to the issues in the story as various characters to different audiences in multiple formats.
- Have a class think-aloud to come up with ideas for the piece of writing that you will create as a group. Model on a whiteboard, overhead projector, or chart paper how you would write in response to the prompt. Allow student input and creativity as you craft your piece of writing.
- Give students another writing prompt (for which you have already chosen the role, audience, format, and topic) and have students react to the prompt either individually or in small groups. It works best if all students follow the same process so the students can learn from the varied responses of their classmates.
- Choose a few students to read their RAFT aloud. Have a class discussion about how each student created their own version of the RAFT while using the same role, audience, format, and topic.
- As students become comfortable in reacting to RAFT prompts, give students a list of options for each component and let them choose their role, audience, format, and topic.
- Eventually, students may choose a role, audience, format, and topic entirely on their own. Varied prompts allow students to compare and contrast multiple perspectives, deepening their understanding of the content when shared.
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- How to structure an essay: Templates and tips
How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates
Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.
The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.
Table of contents
The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.
There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.
Parts of an essay
The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.
Order of information
You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.
The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.
For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.
The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.
The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.
The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.
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The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.
A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.
Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.
- Thesis statement
- Discussion of event/period
- Importance of topic
- Strong closing statement
- Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
- Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
- Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
- High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
- Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
- Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
- Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
- Implications of the new technology for book production
- Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
- Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
- Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
- Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
- Summarize the history described
- Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period
Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.
There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.
In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.
The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.
- Synthesis of arguments
- Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
- Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
- Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
- Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
- Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
- Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
- Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
- Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
- Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
- Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
- Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
- Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go
In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.
The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.
- Point 1 (compare)
- Point 2 (compare)
- Point 3 (compare)
- Point 4 (compare)
- Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
- Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
- Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
- Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
- Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
- Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
- Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
- Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues
An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.
This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.
The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.
- Introduce the problem
- Provide background
- Describe your approach to solving it
- Define the problem precisely
- Describe why it’s important
- Indicate previous approaches to the problem
- Present your new approach, and why it’s better
- Apply the new method or theory to the problem
- Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
- Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
- Describe the implications
- Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
- Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
- Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
- Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
- Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
- Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
- Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
- Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
- This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
- This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
- It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
- Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it
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Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows. It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.
The essay overview
In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.
The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .
Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.
Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.
Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.
Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.
… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.
However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.
The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.
Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:
- The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
- The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.
It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.
You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.
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9.3 Organizing Your Writing
- Understand how and why organizational techniques help writers and readers stay focused.
- Assess how and when to use chronological order to organize an essay.
- Recognize how and when to use order of importance to organize an essay.
- Determine how and when to use spatial order to organize an essay.
The method of organization you choose for your essay is just as important as its content. Without a clear organizational pattern, your reader could become confused and lose interest. The way you structure your essay helps your readers draw connections between the body and the thesis, and the structure also keeps you focused as you plan and write the essay. Choosing your organizational pattern before you outline ensures that each body paragraph works to support and develop your thesis.
This section covers three ways to organize body paragraphs:
- Chronological order
- Order of importance
- Spatial order
When you begin to draft your essay, your ideas may seem to flow from your mind in a seemingly random manner. Your readers, who bring to the table different backgrounds, viewpoints, and ideas, need you to clearly organize these ideas in order to help process and accept them.
A solid organizational pattern gives your ideas a path that you can follow as you develop your draft. Knowing how you will organize your paragraphs allows you to better express and analyze your thoughts. Planning the structure of your essay before you choose supporting evidence helps you conduct more effective and targeted research.
In Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , you learned that chronological arrangement has the following purposes:
- To explain the history of an event or a topic
- To tell a story or relate an experience
- To explain how to do or to make something
- To explain the steps in a process
Chronological order is mostly used in expository writing , which is a form of writing that narrates, describes, informs, or explains a process. When using chronological order, arrange the events in the order that they actually happened, or will happen if you are giving instructions. This method requires you to use words such as first , second , then , after that , later , and finally . These transition words guide you and your reader through the paper as you expand your thesis.
For example, if you are writing an essay about the history of the airline industry, you would begin with its conception and detail the essential timeline events up until present day. You would follow the chain of events using words such as first , then , next , and so on.
Writing at Work
At some point in your career you may have to file a complaint with your human resources department. Using chronological order is a useful tool in describing the events that led up to your filing the grievance. You would logically lay out the events in the order that they occurred using the key transition words. The more logical your complaint, the more likely you will be well received and helped.
Choose an accomplishment you have achieved in your life. The important moment could be in sports, schooling, or extracurricular activities. On your own sheet of paper, list the steps you took to reach your goal. Try to be as specific as possible with the steps you took. Pay attention to using transition words to focus your writing.
Keep in mind that chronological order is most appropriate for the following purposes:
- Writing essays containing heavy research
- Writing essays with the aim of listing, explaining, or narrating
- Writing essays that analyze literary works such as poems, plays, or books
When using chronological order, your introduction should indicate the information you will cover and in what order, and the introduction should also establish the relevance of the information. Your body paragraphs should then provide clear divisions or steps in chronology. You can divide your paragraphs by time (such as decades, wars, or other historical events) or by the same structure of the work you are examining (such as a line-by-line explication of a poem).
On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph that describes a process you are familiar with and can do well. Assume that your reader is unfamiliar with the procedure. Remember to use the chronological key words, such as first , second , then , and finally .
Order of Importance
Recall from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” that order of importance is best used for the following purposes:
- Persuading and convincing
- Ranking items by their importance, benefit, or significance
- Illustrating a situation, problem, or solution
Most essays move from the least to the most important point, and the paragraphs are arranged in an effort to build the essay’s strength. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to begin with your most important supporting point, such as in an essay that contains a thesis that is highly debatable. When writing a persuasive essay, it is best to begin with the most important point because it immediately captivates your readers and compels them to continue reading.
For example, if you were supporting your thesis that homework is detrimental to the education of high school students, you would want to present your most convincing argument first, and then move on to the less important points for your case.
Some key transitional words you should use with this method of organization are most importantly , almost as importantly , just as importantly , and finally .
During your career, you may be required to work on a team that devises a strategy for a specific goal of your company, such as increasing profits. When planning your strategy you should organize your steps in order of importance. This demonstrates the ability to prioritize and plan. Using the order of importance technique also shows that you can create a resolution with logical steps for accomplishing a common goal.
On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph that discusses a passion of yours. Your passion could be music, a particular sport, filmmaking, and so on. Your paragraph should be built upon the reasons why you feel so strongly. Briefly discuss your reasons in the order of least to greatest importance.
As stated in Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , spatial order is best used for the following purposes:
- Helping readers visualize something as you want them to see it
- Evoking a scene using the senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound)
- Writing a descriptive essay
Spatial order means that you explain or describe objects as they are arranged around you in your space, for example in a bedroom. As the writer, you create a picture for your reader, and their perspective is the viewpoint from which you describe what is around you.
The view must move in an orderly, logical progression, giving the reader clear directional signals to follow from place to place. The key to using this method is to choose a specific starting point and then guide the reader to follow your eye as it moves in an orderly trajectory from your starting point.
Pay attention to the following student’s description of her bedroom and how she guides the reader through the viewing process, foot by foot.
Attached to my bedroom wall is a small wooden rack dangling with red and turquoise necklaces that shimmer as you enter. Just to the right of the rack is my window, framed by billowy white curtains. The peace of such an image is a stark contrast to my desk, which sits to the right of the window, layered in textbooks, crumpled papers, coffee cups, and an overflowing ashtray. Turning my head to the right, I see a set of two bare windows that frame the trees outside the glass like a 3D painting. Below the windows is an oak chest from which blankets and scarves are protruding. Against the wall opposite the billowy curtains is an antique dresser, on top of which sits a jewelry box and a few picture frames. A tall mirror attached to the dresser takes up most of the wall, which is the color of lavender.
The paragraph incorporates two objectives you have learned in this chapter: using an implied topic sentence and applying spatial order. Often in a descriptive essay, the two work together.
The following are possible transition words to include when using spatial order:
- Just to the left or just to the right
- On the left or on the right
- Across from
- A little further down
- To the south, to the east, and so on
- A few yards away
- Turning left or turning right
On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph using spatial order that describes your commute to work, school, or another location you visit often.
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
- The way you organize your body paragraphs ensures you and your readers stay focused on and draw connections to, your thesis statement.
- A strong organizational pattern allows you to articulate, analyze, and clarify your thoughts.
- Planning the organizational structure for your essay before you begin to search for supporting evidence helps you conduct more effective and directed research.
- Chronological order is most commonly used in expository writing. It is useful for explaining the history of your subject, for telling a story, or for explaining a process.
- Order of importance is most appropriate in a persuasion paper as well as for essays in which you rank things, people, or events by their significance.
- Spatial order describes things as they are arranged in space and is best for helping readers visualize something as you want them to see it; it creates a dominant impression.
Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Resources for Writers: Introduction Strategies
Introduction strategies .
Excluding scientific and technical writing (which often has pre-established formats), most other topics lend themselves to a variety of introductory gambits. Suppose the assignment is to write a literary analysis of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita . Below are several different ways to start that essay. Please note that not all introductions would be appropriate for one particular thesis or approach. But having a repertoire of openings at our disposal often helps lead us to insights we didn’t know we had.
Begin with a quotation
Although this approach can be overused, it can be very effective when you have an appropriate quotation. That quotation may relate directly to the subject or it may be only indirectly related (and thus require further explanation). Do not force a quotation into this spot; if an appropriate quotation is not available, select another method.
- “The novel Lolita ,” the critic Charles Blight said in 1959, “is proof that American civilization is on the verge of total moral collapse” (45). The judgment of critics and readers in subsequent years, however, has proclaimed Lolita to be one of the great love stories of all time and one of the best proofs that American civilization is still vibrant and alive.
- “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul” (11). These opening lines of Lolita reveal the essence of Humbert’s complexity and compulsion, his saving grace and his damning passion.
Begin with a concession
Start with a statement recognizing an opinion or approach different from the one you plan to take in your essay.
- Many critics have pointed to the unrelenting word games and puns throughout Lolita as proof that Vladimir Nabokov’s major concern has always been language and art. Although these subjects certainly loom in all his works, a close examination of Lolita reveals that morality — the way people treat each other — is just as major a concern for him as language and art.
Begin with a paradox
A paradox is a seeming self-contradiction.
- By 1959 Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita had been banned in several cities as pornographic. Today it is required reading not only in literature courses but also in philosophy courses that explore the nature of love. Since its publication, the novel’s subject has been recognized to be love, not lust; art, not perversion.
Begin with a short anecdote or narrative
- When the original movie version of Lolita was released in the early 1960s, Sue Lyon, the young actress who starred as the provocative “nymphet” of the title, was judged too young to be allowed to see the movie in the theater.
Begin with an interesting fact or statistic
- Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov — two acknowledged masters of English prose — were not even native speakers of English. Conrad’s native tongue was Polish; Nabokov’s, Russian.
Begin with a question or several questions that will be answered in the paper
- How could a book now acknowledged as a masterpiece not only of fiction but also of English prose have been banned when it was published? How could a novel that dealt with love and art be thought of as pornographic? Why would a society so mindful of free speech as America ban any book in the first place?
Begin with relevant background material
Background material should be presented concisely and should be clearly related to your thesis. A rambling discussion of material only remotely related to your main point will confuse and bore your readers.
- Although he was born in Russia and lived for many years in England, Germany, and France before coming to America in 1941, Vladimir Nabokov is now considered one of the great American novelists of the 20th century. This opinion, however, is not based solely on his mastery of English prose. His novel Lolita has been said to have captured the essence of American life in the 1950s better than any novel written by a writer born in this country.
Begin by stating a long-term effect or effects without immediately stating the cause
- It caused howls of protest from the guardians of public morality in the 1950s. Indirectly it helped bring about both artistic and personal freedom in the 1960s. Today it is a recognized classic of art and thought — Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita .
Begin with an analogy
- Like a hurricane that brings fear and panic along with its powerful winds, uprooting trees and disrupting belief in an all-merciful God, so the novel Lolita swept across America in the 1950s, bringing fear and panic that pedophilia would be loosed on the land. Instead, the novel, like a hurricane, blew over trees of thought that were not deeply rooted in American experience, exposing their gnarled premises while helping to clear the way for the artistic freedom of the 1960s.
Begin with a definition of a term that is important to your essay
Avoid simple dictionary definitions. Create an expanded definition that explains how the term applies to your topic and essay.
- Every few years the ugly charge of “pornography” is aimed at some novel or movie. Never was the term more inappropriately used than in the case of Lolita , yet the taint of that word still lingers in the minds of many when they hear the book’s title. What exactly is “pornography” that it should stir such feelings and be so hated? The problem, of course, is that no one can agree on what pornography actually is. That it has something to do with sex seems clear; beyond that, there is a chaos of opinion. When the small-minded or special-interest definitions are pushed aside, however, we are left with D.H. Lawrence’s provocative definition: pornography is anything that “does dirt on sex.” By that definition, Lolita is the opposite of pornography — it is a celebration of sex and love.
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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay
College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.
When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.
Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.
So, what does this mean for you?
Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.
A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.
A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.
Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.
More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.
Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.
Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.
Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.
Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.
Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.
Grab the Reader From the Start
You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.
Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.
Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.
Focus on Deeper Themes
Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.
College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.
They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.
Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?
Show Don’t Tell
As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.
The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.
Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.
Try Doing Something Different
If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?
If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.
You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.
However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.
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Write With the Reader in Mind
Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.
Use transitions between paragraphs.
Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?
Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?
Write Several Drafts
Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.
Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.
Read It Aloud
Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.
If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.
Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.
Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.
Ask Others to Read Your Essay
Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.
Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.
Pay Attention to Form
Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at about 650 words.
“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.
In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.
End Your Essay With a “Kicker”
In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.
It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.
So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.
While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.
Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!
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About the Author
Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”
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Online Guide to Writing and Research
Thinking strategies and writing patterns, explore more of umgc.
- Online Guide to Writing
Developing a Paper Using Strategies
Each writing strategy we have covered is an essay writing strategy. A synthesis essay, an evaluative essay, a comparative essay, a cause-and-effect essay-- each requires an introduction, a thesis, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, some parts of an essay will look different depending on which strategy you employ. The most obvious differences will appear in your thesis statement. However, these differences also filter into your body paragraphs.
Comparative Analysis (with Evaluation)
- Assignment Prompt
- Thesis Statement Options
- Body Paragraph Organization
Imagine you receive an assignment requiring you to compare the benefits of one cost-analysis system with another and show how system A is superior to system B.
What will your thesis statement need to contain in order to satisfy this prompt?
Your thesis might look like this:
Systems A and B are both efficient; however, System A involves less computational time and is easier to understand, and these qualities make training, in particular, more efficient.
First, notice how the comparative analysis in the statement starts immediately. Also, notice how the statement both compares and contrasts. It finds a quality that the two systems have in common and proceeds to sort out the differences within that common quality.
Evaluation is also taking place. The thesis statement sets up a criterion - training efficiency - and assigns value to both systems based on the established criterion.
The statement employs two persuasive strategies. It appeals to logos by implying that the paper will evaluate between parts and a whole, and the statement appeals to pathos by assuming the reader’s preference for understandability and ease of use.
For your body paragraphs, you have two main options for developing and supporting your thesis.
Address systems A and B separately. For each system, you would address each aspect of your established criteria. Additionally, in this case, because system A is the superior system, you would address system B first and system A last.
Organize based on your established criteria. Provide sections on efficiency in general, computational time, and understanding. Then compare and contrast systems A and B within each section.
Cause and Effect Analysis (with Synthesis)
Imagine you receive an assignment requiring you to discuss the conditions associated with repeat offenses among criminal offenders.
What will your thesis statement need to contain in order to satisfy the prompt?
Your thesis could be something like the following:
Policymakers tend to focus their attention on one cause or another for why criminal offenders repeat offenses, but as scholarship has shown, institutional, legal, familial, and behavioral conditions all contribute, suggesting that a multipronged approach to the issue may be most effective.
Notice how the thesis signals the question of causation right away, followed by the application of scholarship to the issue. This mention of scholarship signals to the reader that a synthesis will follow. Then, an inference from the synthesized scholarship provides the claim made within the thesis.
The statement also employs two persuasive strategies: logos, by associating causes with an effect and drawing an inference from scholarly sources. The statement appeals to ethos by demonstrating knowledge of scholarly authority and the implication that scholarship will be used to support the central claim of the paper.
The thesis of your cause-and-effect analysis has outlined the body paragraphs for you. You should discuss each of the causes in the order listed. Using the sources to which your thesis alludes, you should define the causes, show their effects, and support the paper’s thesis with statistics and examples.
- Every writing assignment you write will have specific strategies to employ depending on the type of assignment and details in the prompt.
- It's important to highlight keywords in your assignment prompt in order to know how to approach your thesis and organize your body paragraphs.
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Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing
Chapter 1: College Writing
How Does College Writing Differ from Workplace Writing?
What Is College Writing?
Why So Much Emphasis on Writing?
Chapter 2: The Writing Process
Doing Exploratory Research
Getting from Notes to Your Draft
Prewriting - Techniques to Get Started - Mining Your Intuition
Prewriting: Targeting Your Audience
Prewriting: Techniques to Get Started
Prewriting: Understanding Your Assignment
Rewriting: Being Your Own Critic
Rewriting: Creating a Revision Strategy
Rewriting: Getting Feedback
Rewriting: The Final Draft
Techniques to Get Started - Outlining
Techniques to Get Started - Using Systematic Techniques
Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea
Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Freewriting
Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Summarizing Your Ideas
Writing: Outlining What You Will Write
Chapter 3: Thinking Strategies
A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone
A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone: Style Through Vocabulary and Diction
Critical Strategies and Writing
Critical Strategies and Writing: Analysis
Critical Strategies and Writing: Evaluation
Critical Strategies and Writing: Persuasion
Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis
Kinds of Assignments You Will Write
Patterns for Presenting Information
Patterns for Presenting Information: Critiques
Patterns for Presenting Information: Discussing Raw Data
Patterns for Presenting Information: General-to-Specific Pattern
Patterns for Presenting Information: Problem-Cause-Solution Pattern
Patterns for Presenting Information: Specific-to-General Pattern
Patterns for Presenting Information: Summaries and Abstracts
Supporting with Research and Examples
Writing Essay Examinations
Writing Essay Examinations: Make Your Answer Relevant and Complete
Writing Essay Examinations: Organize Thinking Before Writing
Writing Essay Examinations: Read and Understand the Question
Chapter 4: The Research Process
Planning and Writing a Research Paper
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Ask a Research Question
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Cite Sources
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Collect Evidence
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Decide Your Point of View, or Role, for Your Research
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Draw Conclusions
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Find a Topic and Get an Overview
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Manage Your Resources
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Outline
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Survey the Literature
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Work Your Sources into Your Research Writing
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Human Resources
Research Resources: What Are Research Resources?
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found?
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Electronic Resources
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Print Resources
Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure
Structuring the Research Paper: Informal Research Structure
The Nature of Research
The Research Assignment: How Should Research Sources Be Evaluated?
The Research Assignment: When Is Research Needed?
The Research Assignment: Why Perform Research?
Chapter 5: Academic Integrity
Giving Credit to Sources
Giving Credit to Sources: Copyright Laws
Giving Credit to Sources: Documentation
Giving Credit to Sources: Style Guides
Practicing Academic Integrity
Practicing Academic Integrity: Keeping Accurate Records
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Paraphrasing Your Source
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Quoting Your Source
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Summarizing Your Sources
Types of Documentation
Types of Documentation: Bibliographies and Source Lists
Types of Documentation: Citing World Wide Web Sources
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - APA Style
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - CSE/CBE Style
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - Chicago Style
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - MLA Style
Types of Documentation: Note Citations
Chapter 6: Using Library Resources
Finding Library Resources
Chapter 7: Assessing Your Writing
How Is Writing Graded?
How Is Writing Graded?: A General Assessment Tool
The Draft Stage
The Draft Stage: The First Draft
The Draft Stage: The Revision Process and the Final Draft
The Draft Stage: Using Feedback
The Research Stage
Using Assessment to Improve Your Writing
Chapter 8: Other Frequently Assigned Papers
Reviews and Reaction Papers: Article and Book Reviews
Reviews and Reaction Papers: Reaction Papers
Writing Arguments: Adapting the Argument Structure
Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument
Writing Arguments: References to Consult for Writing Arguments
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Anticipate Active Opposition
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Determine Your Organization
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Develop Your Argument
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Introduce Your Argument
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - State Your Thesis or Proposition
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Write Your Conclusion
Writing Arguments: Types of Argument
Appendix A: Books to Help Improve Your Writing
General Style Manuals
Researching on the Internet
Special Style Manuals
Appendix B: Collaborative Writing and Peer Reviewing
Collaborative Writing: Assignments to Accompany the Group Project
Collaborative Writing: Informal Progress Report
Collaborative Writing: Issues to Resolve
Collaborative Writing: Methodology
Collaborative Writing: Peer Evaluation
Collaborative Writing: Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members
Collaborative Writing: Writing Plan
Appendix C: Developing an Improvement Plan
Working with Your Instructor’s Comments and Grades
Appendix D: Writing Plan and Project Schedule
Devising a Writing Project Plan and Schedule
Reviewing Your Plan with Others
Perspectives & resources, what should ms. lin know in order to provide effective writing instruction.
- Page 1: Understanding Difficulties with Written Expression
- Page 2: Prerequisites for Written Expression
What could Ms. Lin do to help her students learn to write persuasive essays?
- Page 3: Elements of the Writing Process
Page 4: POW+TREE Writing Strategy
- Page 5: POW+TREE Applications
- Page 6: References & Additional Resources
- Page 7: Credits
A research-validated strategy , POW is a mnemonic device designed to help students structure any kind of writing. TREE is also a mnemonic device students can use to organize their ideas. As is demonstrated in the table below, students can combine the POW and TREE strategies to address the first three elements of the writing process in order to create persuasive essays.
A strategy or practice that has been proven to work through experimental research studies or large-scale research field studies.
After completing the POW+TREE strategy, students will still need to address the fourth element of the writing process: editing and revising. These skills should be taught as part of any comprehensive writing program. The bulletin board below displays the editing marks that Ms. Lin has taught her students. She uses these marks when providing editing and revising feedback to her students, and she requires her students to use them during the peer-editing process.
(Really Good Stuff [Online], 2007)
Tips and strategies for the effective essay writing.
BY STEVEN LARUE
Description: Believe it or not, but everyone is capable of writing a brilliant essay. It is just important to be aware of the most effective practical tips that can help you write an essay that would impress not only your teacher but you as well. Here are the best tricks that will make your essay writing as powerful and passionate as possible.
Convey your thoughts and ideas easily by using these effective tips and tricks
There is only one thing that you can passionately love and totally hate at the same time – the process of essay writing. But why can it be so painful? Why do we usually feel like squeezed lemons after completing the task that seemed to be so interesting and captivating? Maybe we are just doing something wrong. It`s time to admit it. Really, there is a plenty of useful techniques we can take advantage of to make our essay writing unbelievable pleasant. You don`t believe it? Just take a look at them!
Choose the topic you are excited about
Never write about something that bores you. Do not be afraid to ask your teacher to change your topic because it doesn`t inspire you. If you are asked to highlight one aspect of the book, then choose something that is really important and interesting for you even if others may say that your writing won`t make any sense. Just show the conflict between different ideas and prove that your opinion is correct. It is a great mistake to write what your teacher wants to read. You are a unique person who holds a unique perspective.
Use the five sentence trick
This trick will help you create a solid basis for your essay. Write five original sentences that will be the skeleton of your paper. It is one of the best ways to organize your thoughts when you feel overwhelmed. Then everything`s going to go much, much smoother. It is also useful to jot down any ideas that suddenly spring to your mind. So, don`t forget to have a notebook with you at all times.
Give your mind a rest
Do not torture and distress yourself when something goes wrong with your essay. Sometimes it can be really difficult to make yourself to come up with something new. Our brain wasn`t made for a marathon. So, it is just absurdly to sit at a desk all day when inspiration doesn`t strike. In such cases you should go outside or just look out a window, take a nap, exercise and even meditate. It is said that writers get some of their most beautiful ideas when they are not working.
Communicate clearly by using effective and accurate vocabulary
Do not ever stop working on your vocabulary. It is the first thing that shows your intelligence. A good writer should clearly understand the concept of language economy. In fact, we can say an extraordinary amount in very few well chosen words. You should take into account that not all long essays are good essays. Just form and keep a new habit – expanding your vocabulary on a daily basis. Use a thesaurus, read widely, start a vocabulary book and try to learn roots, prefixes and suffixes.
Sound smarter in your writing
There is a golden rule that if you want to sound smart to should stop trying to sound smart. The phrase “the simplicity of genius” shouldn`t slip your mind when you are writing. Brilliant essay is a simple essay. You should always have something to say to your readers, otherwise all your words will sound meaningless. Be specific and choose simple words. Write short sentences that are easier to read and understand. Eliminate words that add nothing to the meaning of your sentences. Make the tone of voice you use for writing an essay engaging and interesting. And just don`t ruin the whole essay by using poor grammar. Check the rules if needed.
Let it marinate
This tip means that after finishing your essay you should put it away for a few days. As the practice shows, a new inspiration will definitely come to you and you will be able to add something to your essay and make it even better. What is more, it will give you the opportunity to notice those mistakes that stayed out of your sight before.
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In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.
Four Strategies for Effective Writing Instruction
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(This is the first post in a two-part series.)
The new question-of-the-week is:
What is the single most effective instructional strategy you have used to teach writing?
Teaching and learning good writing can be a challenge to educators and students alike.
The topic is no stranger to this column—you can see many previous related posts at Writing Instruction .
But I don’t think any of us can get too much good instructional advice in this area.
Today, Jenny Vo, Michele Morgan, and Joy Hamm share wisdom gained from their teaching experience.
Before I turn over the column to them, though, I’d like to share my favorite tool(s).
Graphic organizers, including writing frames (which are basically more expansive sentence starters) and writing structures (which function more as guides and less as “fill-in-the-blanks”) are critical elements of my writing instruction.
You can see an example of how I incorporate them in my seven-week story-writing unit and in the adaptations I made in it for concurrent teaching.
You might also be interested in The Best Scaffolded Writing Frames For Students .
Now, to today’s guests:
Jenny Vo earned her B.A. in English from Rice University and her M.Ed. in educational leadership from Lamar University. She has worked with English-learners during all of her 24 years in education and is currently an ESL ISST in Katy ISD in Katy, Texas. Jenny is the president-elect of TexTESOL IV and works to advocate for all ELs:
The single most effective instructional strategy that I have used to teach writing is shared writing. Shared writing is when the teacher and students write collaboratively. In shared writing, the teacher is the primary holder of the pen, even though the process is a collaborative one. The teacher serves as the scribe, while also questioning and prompting the students.
The students engage in discussions with the teacher and their peers on what should be included in the text. Shared writing can be done with the whole class or as a small-group activity.
There are two reasons why I love using shared writing. One, it is a great opportunity for the teacher to model the structures and functions of different types of writing while also weaving in lessons on spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
It is a perfect activity to do at the beginning of the unit for a new genre. Use shared writing to introduce the students to the purpose of the genre. Model the writing process from beginning to end, taking the students from idea generation to planning to drafting to revising to publishing. As you are writing, make sure you refrain from making errors, as you want your finished product to serve as a high-quality model for the students to refer back to as they write independently.
Another reason why I love using shared writing is that it connects the writing process with oral language. As the students co-construct the writing piece with the teacher, they are orally expressing their ideas and listening to the ideas of their classmates. It gives them the opportunity to practice rehearsing what they are going to say before it is written down on paper. Shared writing gives the teacher many opportunities to encourage their quieter or more reluctant students to engage in the discussion with the types of questions the teacher asks.
Writing well is a skill that is developed over time with much practice. Shared writing allows students to engage in the writing process while observing the construction of a high-quality sample. It is a very effective instructional strategy used to teach writing.
Michele Morgan has been writing IEPs and behavior plans to help students be more successful for 17 years. She is a national-board-certified teacher, Utah Teacher Fellow with Hope Street Group, and a special education elementary new-teacher specialist with the Granite school district. Follow her @MicheleTMorgan1:
For many students, writing is the most dreaded part of the school day. Writing involves many complex processes that students have to engage in before they produce a product—they must determine what they will write about, they must organize their thoughts into a logical sequence, and they must do the actual writing, whether on a computer or by hand. Still they are not done—they must edit their writing and revise mistakes. With all of that, it’s no wonder that students struggle with writing assignments.
In my years working with elementary special education students, I have found that writing is the most difficult subject to teach. Not only do my students struggle with the writing process, but they often have the added difficulties of not knowing how to spell words and not understanding how to use punctuation correctly. That is why the single most effective strategy I use when teaching writing is the Four Square graphic organizer.
The Four Square instructional strategy was developed in 1999 by Judith S. Gould and Evan Jay Gould. When I first started teaching, a colleague allowed me to borrow the Goulds’ book about using the Four Square method, and I have used it ever since. The Four Square is a graphic organizer that students can make themselves when given a blank sheet of paper. They fold it into four squares and draw a box in the middle of the page. The genius of this instructional strategy is that it can be used by any student, in any grade level, for any writing assignment. These are some of the ways I have used this strategy successfully with my students:
* Writing sentences: Students can write the topic for the sentence in the middle box, and in each square, they can draw pictures of details they want to add to their writing.
* Writing paragraphs: Students write the topic sentence in the middle box. They write a sentence containing a supporting detail in three of the squares and they write a concluding sentence in the last square.
* Writing short essays: Students write what information goes in the topic paragraph in the middle box, then list details to include in supporting paragraphs in the squares.
When I gave students writing assignments, the first thing I had them do was create a Four Square. We did this so often that it became automatic. After filling in the Four Square, they wrote rough drafts by copying their work off of the graphic organizer and into the correct format, either on lined paper or in a Word document. This worked for all of my special education students!
I was able to modify tasks using the Four Square so that all of my students could participate, regardless of their disabilities. Even if they did not know what to write about, they knew how to start the assignment (which is often the hardest part of getting it done!) and they grew to be more confident in their writing abilities.
In addition, when it was time to take the high-stakes state writing tests at the end of the year, this was a strategy my students could use to help them do well on the tests. I was able to give them a sheet of blank paper, and they knew what to do with it. I have used many different curriculum materials and programs to teach writing in the last 16 years, but the Four Square is the one strategy that I have used with every writing assignment, no matter the grade level, because it is so effective.
Joy Hamm has taught 11 years in a variety of English-language settings, ranging from kindergarten to adult learners. The last few years working with middle and high school Newcomers and completing her M.Ed in TESOL have fostered stronger advocacy in her district and beyond:
A majority of secondary content assessments include open-ended essay questions. Many students falter (not just ELs) because they are unaware of how to quickly organize their thoughts into a cohesive argument. In fact, the WIDA CAN DO Descriptors list level 5 writing proficiency as “organizing details logically and cohesively.” Thus, the most effective cross-curricular secondary writing strategy I use with my intermediate LTELs (long-term English-learners) is what I call “Swift Structures.” This term simply means reading a prompt across any content area and quickly jotting down an outline to organize a strong response.
To implement Swift Structures, begin by displaying a prompt and modeling how to swiftly create a bubble map or outline beginning with a thesis/opinion, then connecting the three main topics, which are each supported by at least three details. Emphasize this is NOT the time for complete sentences, just bulleted words or phrases.
Once the outline is completed, show your ELs how easy it is to plug in transitions, expand the bullets into detailed sentences, and add a brief introduction and conclusion. After modeling and guided practice, set a 5-10 minute timer and have students practice independently. Swift Structures is one of my weekly bell ringers, so students build confidence and skill over time. It is best to start with easy prompts where students have preformed opinions and knowledge in order to focus their attention on the thesis-topics-supporting-details outline, not struggling with the rigor of a content prompt.
Here is one easy prompt example: “Should students be allowed to use their cellphones in class?”
Swift Structure outline:
Thesis - Students should be allowed to use cellphones because (1) higher engagement (2) learning tools/apps (3) gain 21st-century skills
Topic 1. Cellphones create higher engagement in students...
Details A. interactive (Flipgrid, Kahoot)
B. less tempted by distractions
C. teaches responsibility
Topic 2. Furthermore,...access to learning tools...
A. Google Translate description
B. language practice (Duolingo)
C. content tutorials (Kahn Academy)
Topic 3. In addition,...practice 21st-century skills…
Details A. prep for workforce
B. access to information
C. time-management support
This bare-bones outline is like the frame of a house. Get the structure right, and it’s easier to fill in the interior decorating (style, grammar), roof (introduction) and driveway (conclusion). Without the frame, the roof and walls will fall apart, and the reader is left confused by circuitous rubble.
Once LTELs have mastered creating simple Swift Structures in less than 10 minutes, it is time to introduce complex questions similar to prompts found on content assessments or essays. Students need to gain assurance that they can quickly and logically explain and justify their opinions on multiple content essays without freezing under pressure.
Thanks to Jenny, Michele, and Joy for their contributions!
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Five useful strategies.
Pre-writing strategies use writing to generate and clarify ideas. While many writers have traditionally created outlines before beginning writing, there are several other effective prewriting activities. We often call these prewriting strategies “brainstorming techniques.” Five useful strategies are listing, clustering, freewriting, looping, and asking the six journalists' questions. These strategies help you with both your invention and organization of ideas, and they can aid you in developing topics for your writing.
Listing is a process of producing a lot of information within a short time by generating some broad ideas and then building on those associations for more detail with a bullet point list. Listing is particularly useful if your starting topic is very broad, and you need to narrow it down.
- Jot down all the possible terms that emerge from the general topic you are working on. This procedure works especially well if you work in a team. All team members can generate ideas, with one member acting as scribe. Do not worry about editing or throwing out what might not be a good idea. Simply write down as many possibilities as you can.
- Group the items that you have listed according to arrangements that make sense to you. Are things thematically related?
- Give each group a label. Now you have a narrower topic with possible points of development.
- Write a sentence about the label you have given the group of ideas. Now you have a topic sentence or possibly a thesis statement .
Clustering, also called mind mapping or idea mapping, is a strategy that allows you to explore the relationships between ideas.
- Put the subject in the center of a page. Circle or underline it.
- As you think of other ideas, write them on the page surrounding the central idea. Link the new ideas to the central circle with lines.
- As you think of ideas that relate to the new ideas, add to those in the same way.
The result will look like a web on your page. Locate clusters of interest to you, and use the terms you attached to the key ideas as departure points for your paper.
Clustering is especially useful in determining the relationship between ideas. You will be able to distinguish how the ideas fit together, especially where there is an abundance of ideas. Clustering your ideas lets you see them visually in a different way, so that you can more readily understand possible directions your paper may take.
Freewriting is a process of generating a lot of information by writing non-stop in full sentences for a predetermined amount of time. It allows you to focus on a specific topic but forces you to write so quickly that you are unable to edit any of your ideas.
- Freewrite on the assignment or general topic for five to ten minutes non-stop. Force yourself to continue writing even if nothing specific comes to mind (so you could end up writing “I don’t know what to write about” over and over until an idea pops into your head. This is okay; the important thing is that you do not stop writing). This freewriting will include many ideas; at this point, generating ideas is what is important, not the grammar or the spelling.
- After you have finished freewriting, look back over what you have written and highlight the most prominent and interesting ideas; then you can begin all over again, with a tighter focus (see looping). You will narrow your topic and, in the process, you will generate several relevant points about the topic.
Looping is a freewriting technique that allows you to focus your ideas continually while trying to discover a writing topic. After you freewrite for the first time, identify a key thought or idea in your writing, and begin to freewrite again, with that idea as your starting point. You will loop one 5-10 minute freewriting after another, so you have a sequence of freewritings, each more specific than the last. The same rules that apply to freewriting apply to looping: write quickly, do not edit, and do not stop.
Loop your freewriting as many times as necessary, circling another interesting topic, idea, phrase, or sentence each time. When you have finished four or five rounds of looping, you will begin to have specific information that indicates what you are thinking about a particular topic. You may even have the basis for a tentative thesis or an improved idea for an approach to your assignment when you have finished.
The Journalists' Questions
Journalists traditionally ask six questions when they are writing assignments that are broken down into five W's and one H: Who? , What? , Where? , When? , Why? , and How? You can use these questions to explore the topic you are writing about for an assignment. A key to using the journalists' questions is to make them flexible enough to account for the specific details of your topic. For instance, if your topic is the rise and fall of the Puget Sound tides and its effect on salmon spawning, you may have very little to say about Who if your focus does not account for human involvement. On the other hand, some topics may be heavy on the Who , especially if human involvement is a crucial part of the topic.
The journalists' questions are a powerful way to develop a great deal of information about a topic very quickly. Learning to ask the appropriate questions about a topic takes practice, however. At times during writing an assignment, you may wish to go back and ask the journalists' questions again to clarify important points that may be getting lost in your planning and drafting.
Possible generic questions you can ask using the six journalists' questions follow:
- Who? Who are the participants? Who is affected? Who are the primary actors? Who are the secondary actors?
- What? What is the topic? What is the significance of the topic? What is the basic problem? What are the issues related to that problem?
- Where? Where does the activity take place? Where does the problem or issue have its source? At what place is the cause or effect of the problem most visible?
- When? When is the issue most apparent? (in the past? present? future?) When did the issue or problem develop? What historical forces helped shape the problem or issue and at what point in time will the problem or issue culminate in a crisis? When is action needed to address the issue or problem?
- Why? Why did the issue or problem arise? Why is it (your topic) an issue or problem at all? Why did the issue or problem develop in the way that it did?
- How? How is the issue or problem significant? How can it be addressed? How does it affect the participants? How can the issue or problem be resolved?
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How to Write a Strategy
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This article was co-authored by Jack Herrick . Jack Herrick is an American entrepreneur and wiki enthusiast. His entrepreneurial projects include wikiHow, eHow, Luminescent Technologies, and BigTray. In January 2005, Herrick started wikiHow with the goal of creating "the how-to guide for everything." He has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Dartmouth College. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 26,420 times.
Writing a strategy document is an important part of organizational planning. Whether you're developing a strategy for your business, for a marketing plan, or some other purpose, writing the strategy down will provide you and your institution with a guide for moving forward. Usually, you'll start by identifying your audience and the purpose of the strategy. Think about your organization's end goal and brainstorm steps you can take to get there. Be clear and direct when writing a strategy, and have someone edit it once you've finished.
Writing a Marketing Strategy
- Emphasize that with a marketing strategy in hand, your organization or business could improve its performance and operate more efficiently.
- Since the marketing strategy is often reviewed by the head of the company or an executive, it is important to write a strong marketing strategy to ensure the marketing department receives adequate attention and resources.
- For instance, if your product or service is aimed at both young people generally and Hispanics specifically, you’ll need to be clear about whether a single strategy is appropriate for both (it probably isn’t), and how the two campaigns will be developed.
- When writing the strategy, lay out any evidence you have about who your core customer base is. Draw on polls, census data, and customer feedback surveys to establish the demographics of your consumers. Think about their age, race, class, and gender.
- Evaluate your current and past marketing campaigns to discover what worked and what didn’t. Include these findings in your strategy to help explain what future strategies should and shouldn’t do. Use this section of the strategy to find out who you are and who you want to be as an organization.
- If you have trouble figuring out what your customers are interested in, write a list of possible steps you could take to find out more. For instance, you might recommend a more thorough data-gathering process during which the marketing team investigates similar brands and products, and evaluates how their marketing campaigns succeeded or failed.
- You might also suggest more intense research like focus groups consisting of your core customers or a new customer market you’re interested in attracting. In focus groups, you can give questionnaires or conduct interviews with specific members of a relevant demographic to find out what they’re interested in. For instance, you might show two different ads to a group of Millennials and see which they responded more positively to.
- Internal goals include hiring more staff and creating more stable workflows within the marketing department.
- Internal obstacles might be a lack of space or funding.
- External goals might include improving the public’s image of a brand, product, or service.
- External obstacles might be the stock market or consumer attitudes toward your product or service.
- Advertising (radio, online, and in television)
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram)
- Web presence (a website and online store)
Writing an Organizational Strategy
- If you don’t have a mission statement, you should develop one. The mission statement should describe the company’s daily operations. For instance, an eyeglass manufacturing center might have a mission statement that reads, “Our mission is to provide quality eyewear at affordable prices.”
- If you don’t have a vision statement -- a statement that describes the organization’s imagined future and ultimate goals -- encourage your organization to create one. For instance, the above-mentioned eyeglass manufacturer’s vision statement might be, “To push optometry forward and ensure everyone can live a full life.”
- Mission and vision statements should be stable and long-term fixtures within the organization, and not subject to frequent change.
- Who or what are your resources?
- How can you better utilize your resources?
- Are there resources you need, but do not have?
- How can you obtain new resources?
- How will the organization or business change or expand? Will the company or organization be leaner in five years, with fewer employees and less real estate? Or will it be larger than it is today?
- What will the organization’s finances look in five to ten years? Use prior financial gains to make predictions about the future.
- How will the organization adapt to the changing market? If you’re in the museum world, for instance, you might need to address the fact that the number of museum visitors continues to drop each year.
- Write a list of what stands in your way along with actions you can take to successfully overcome these obstacles.
- Think about how to adjust marketing, payroll, sales figures and expenses.
- Your goals should be quantifiable. For instance, a goal like "Increase sales by 10%" is a good goal because it is specific, and you can measure sales using actual data.
- Recommend a timetable for each goal. For instance, you might say, “We should increase sales by 10% in the first quarter, and by another 10% in the second quarter.”
Thinking Broadly About Strategy
- A strategy defines where you are, where you want to be, and how you’ll get there.
- The strategy is composed of tactics -- steps you can take to complete the plan.  X Research source They explain how to move from where you are to where you want to be. Together, tactics explain a process for action.
- Goals are the individual desired outcomes. The strategy might accomplish several goals, or just one.
- For instance, if you’re writing an internal strategy for your marketing department, you will need to focus on marketing-related issues, problems, and concepts. You could use terminology and jargon specific to people inside the marketing industry, since they will be the ones reading it.
- On the other hand, if you’re writing a strategy about how to devise a marketing strategy for a general audience, you will not necessarily be able to write a strategy that uses the same kind of language, since your audience will not be marketing insiders.
- For a business strategy, this might be "increase advertising presence." For a home improvement project, it might be "paint the house on weekends."
- Setting goals you can't reasonably reach is worse than not having a goal. Not only where you not end up where you want to be, you'll also be discouraged by your failure.
- If you’re writing a video game development strategy, for instance, talk to others who have written video game development strategies, or someone who has contributed to the development of a video game.
- Create a plan for accomplishing each goal on time. Set a time frame for each goal based on realistic assumptions about the resources available and the length of time each goal will take to achieve.
- For instance, a company that distributes movies to theaters might have to address the decline of the movie industry.
- A weakness related to a specific strategy suggestion might be a lack of money to invest in new equipment.
- Keep your writing clear and understandable for the reader. Be direct and avoid making vague statements.
- It can be tempting to get into the specific details of each point in your strategic plan, but it's not necessarily a good idea. Those specific details of writing a strategy are actually part of tactics -- a finer-scale planning skill you get to once you've finished strategizing. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/developing-a-strategy/
- ↑ http://www.infoentrepreneurs.org/en/guides/create-your-marketing-strategy/
- ↑ http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2013/04/16/4-principles-of-marketing-strategy-in-the-digital-age/#31f2fb89495c
- ↑ http://www.inc.com/murray-newlands/15-marketing-strategies-that-inspire-strategic-thinkers.html
- ↑ http://www.processexcellencenetwork.com/innovation/articles/10-elements-of-a-great-strategy
- ↑ https://duncanbucknell.com/2013/04/12/the-difference-between-a-strategy-a-plan-and-a-process/
- ↑ http://thestoryoftelling.com/what-is-strategy/
- ↑ http://betterwritinghabits.com/who-are-you-writing-for-define-your-audience-first/
- ↑ http://www.diffen.com/difference/Strategy_vs_Tactic
- ↑ http://www.forbes.com/sites/davelavinsky/2013/10/18/strategic-plan-template-what-to-include/#63557f737e2f
- ↑ http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/16049/writing/why_should_you_edit_your_writing.html
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My Davidson | A Student Blog Student-to-Student: Advice from Davidson College Students on the College Essay
Current Davidson College students share their tips and tricks for navigating and writing the college essay.
About the Authors
This piece was written by Senior Fellows in Davidson College's Office of Admission & Financial Aid; Zaynab Abuhakema ’24, Nathanael Bagonza ’24, Chloe Boissy Stauffer ’24, Kelsey Chase ’24, Amanda Fuenzalida ’24, Olivia Howard ’24 (she/her), Ann Nishida ’24, Lilly Sirover ’24, Samuel Waithira ’24 and Ruby Zhou ’24.
Learn more about them below.
Zaynab Abuhakema ’24 (she/her) is a physics major and theatre minor from Summerville, South Carolina.
“Just be honest! We want to know more about YOU and why you can see yourself at Davidson. Tell us about your passions in the way that makes the most sense to you. Have someone read over it if you want, but don’t worry too much about the technical part. Just show us who you are the best way you can on a page.”
Nathanael Bagonza ’24 (he/him) is an English major from Haverhill, Massachusetts.
“Don’t worry about if your writing is ‘great’ or not; rather, be intentional in ensuring that your essays demonstrate who you are and what you are passionate about! I ended up becoming an English major writing a collection of essays for my senior honors thesis, but what made my application essays work from day one was telling stories that really spoke to my true, authentic self.”
Chloe Boissy Stauffer ’24 (she/her) is an environmental studies and political science double major from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
“A couple pages of writing will never capture your whole story- admissions counselors understand this. In order to communicate an accurate snapshot of who you are, try thinking of one hobby, one accomplishment, or one interaction that you think best reflects your overall skill set and worldview. By using one or two examples to ‘anchor’ your story, you can frame your personality, backstory and values. Whatever you write, make sure it’s authentic to who you are because that’s who we want to get to know.”
Kelsey Chase ’24 (she/her) is a political science major from Concord, New Hampshire.
“I read a lot of Common App essays during my college process, not because I wanted to study them or compare them to my own, but because I genuinely thought they were fascinating to read. This helped me realize that it’s helpful to think about writing the essays for a peer rather than an admissions officer. Don’t worry about what you think the admissions officers want to hear; rather, write an essay that you think would help potential friends understand you at your core. I would also advise against your parents or adults taking too much editorial control over your essay — you want your essay to sound like you, which is someone who’s 17 or 18 years old, not a professional. It can definitely be helpful to have someone read over it just to catch grammar mistakes or awkward phrasing, but what matters most is that you feel like it really conveys something important about who you are.”
Amanda Fuenzalida ’24 (she/her) is a biology major from Naples, Florida and Santiago, Chile.
“When I think about the personal essay, I always think about growth, because that is what life is, a continuous growing process. And at 17–18 years, you do not have to have everything figured out or have decided what you want to for the rest of your life. But what you can do well is reflect on the experiences that have made you the person you are at this very moment. And thinking about this personal statement, I would think maybe what are key major parts of my life that have shaped me to be who I am, that make you proud of yourself. Reading back your essay, you should feel that sense of pride, that this essay reflects the person you (not anyone else) are proud you have become.”
Olivia Howard ’24 (she/her) is a biology and German Studies double major from Dacula, Georgia.
“I do not consider writing to be my strong suit, and I remember the dread and fear I had when I was writing my college essays. Essays are intimidating, and you might feel lost trying to fit your story into the limits that are set. My advice to you is to be patient with yourself and allow who you are to come through on the page. Do not over stress about having the most complex grammar and sentence structure, but rather focus on writing what matters to you. It is okay to not be an award-winning writer who uses metaphors and various literary devices. A lot of times it is better to tell your story in a simple way rather than using flowery language and fluff that does not get your point across.”
Ann Nishida ’24 (she/her) is a biology major and music minor from Ridgewood, New Jersey.
“The focus is on you . The essay portion is a chance for the admission counselors to see a side of you that a transcript or test score won’t fully represent. A good starting point in discovering your unique qualities may be to ask yourself Why ? Why am I passionate about certain activities, why do I interact with my environment in a certain way, why do I want to go to Davidson, etc. Good luck!”
Lilly Sirover ’24 (she/her) is a biology major and public health minor on the premedicine track from Haddonfield, New Jersey.
“As someone who prefers speaking over writing, I highly recommend using a voice recording app to talk through your essay ideas as you begin the writing process. Talking through your unique strengths, challenges you have navigated, a personal experience that changed your perspective, a topic that you are endlessly curious about, or something else personal to you allows your story to develop naturally.”
Samuel Waithira ’24 (he/him) is an economics major and applied mathematics minor from Nairobi, Kenya.
“Be genuine with every aspect of your application. Do not try to mold your application into what you believe the college wants. When you present your true self, you build trust with the admissions team, showing that you have confidence in who you are. Remember that each applicant is unique, and colleges are often looking for a diverse student body. By being genuine, you can showcase your individuality and the qualities that set you apart from other applicants.”
Ruby Zhou ’24 (she/her) is an English major on the predental track from Houston, Texas.
“Start writing. I have a tendency to procrastinate whenever I have a daunting task looming over me, and I just need to start writing or I’ll never get it done. The writing might sound horrible and you might feel embarrassed, but if you think about it, the earlier you start, the more time you have to change “bad” writing to something beautiful.”
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Yes, ChatGPT can help with your college admissions essay. Here's what you need to do to stay within the rules.
- Students who use tools like ChatGPT to write their college essays need to walk a fine line.
- Colleges will likely penalize students who submit completely AI-generated applications.
- Using AI to edit or draft the essays may be acceptable though, a tutoring company founder says.
The education sector has had a rough ride with generative AI.
After the release of ChatGPT, some colleges and schools were quick to put a blanket ban on the bot when students began using it to write their essays. Professors and teachers were left with the difficult task of navigating the new concept of AI plagiarism.
Now, several colleges have changed their tune and are encouraging students and staff to use generative AI as a tool — as long as they don't use it to cheat. However, the guidance is still pretty vague, especially when it comes to admissions and college essays.
"The landscape is shifting, but colleges are not unified in their approach to GPT," Adam Nguyen, founder of tutoring company Ivy Link , told Insider. "If you look across the landscape of college admissions, especially elite college admissions, there are no clear rules on whether you could use GPT or not."
In February, I tested the chatbot's ability to write college application essays . The results were relatively successful , with two private admissions tutors agreeing the essays definitely passed for ones written by a real student and probably would have had a shot at most colleges, but probably not the most selective institutions.
There are telltale signs when an entire essay is AI-generated, Nguyen said. For example, there tends to be a lot of repetition, and the essays are generally mediocre.
"If an essay is clearly written by AI, I think they will penalize the student and that application," Nguyen said.
While it's clear students should be writing their own work, it's less clear if students are allowed to use the tech to help them draft or edit essays.
As colleges grudgingly accept that AI is not going anyway, Nguyen said there's a fine line for students to walk.
"If you fill in the details, restructure the essay, and provide the specific language and sentences, that will make the essay your own," he said. "I think many colleges would be fine with that."
He continued, "I would suggest not using it as a default. If you're really stuck, you could use it to start." He suggested that, as a general rule, at least 80% of the essays needed to be edited and changed to be on the safe side.
"If an essay's really good, it won't raise any suspicion, and I don't think most colleges will care that you use GPT to start, as long as they can't tell either," he added.
Watch: What is ChatGPT, and should we be afraid of AI chatbots?
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Why: GS searches differently from most library databases, including HOLLIS. In addition to searching "metadata" (lots of descriptive info about a book or article, it also searches full-text . This can be an additional advantage when you've got a very narrow topic or are seeking a "nugget" that traditional database searching can't surface easily.
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What Is Happening on College Campuses Is Not Free Speech
By Gabriel Diamond , Talia Dror and Jillian Lederman
Mr. Diamond is a senior at Yale University. Ms. Dror is a junior at Cornell University. Ms. Lederman is a senior at Brown University.
Since the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, campus life in the United States has imploded into a daily trial of intimidation and insult for Jewish students. A hostile environment that began with statements from pro-Palestinian student organizations justifying terrorism has now rapidly spiraled into death threats and physical attacks, leaving Jewish students alarmed and vulnerable.
On an online discussion forum last weekend, Jewish students at Cornell were called “excrement on the face of the earth,” threatened with rape and beheading and bombarded with demands like “eliminate Jewish living from Cornell campus.” (A 21-year-old junior at Cornell has been charged with posting violent threats.) This horror must end.
Free speech, open debate and heterodox views lie at the core of academic life. They are fundamental to educating future leaders to think and act morally. The reality on some college campuses today is the opposite: open intimidation of Jewish students. Mob harassment must not be confused with free speech.
Universities need to get back to first principles and understand that they have the rules on hand to end intimidation of Jewish students. We need to hold professors and students to a higher standard.
The targeting of Jewish students didn’t stop at Cornell: Jewish students at Cooper Union huddled in the library to escape an angry crowd pounding on the doors; a protester at a rally near New York University carried a sign calling for the world to be kept “clean” of Jews; messages like “glory to our martyrs” were projected onto a George Washington University building.
This most recent wave of hate began with prejudiced comments obscured by seemingly righteous language. Following the Oct. 7 attacks, more than 30 student groups at Harvard signed on to a statement that read, “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” There was no mention of Hamas. The university issued such a tepid response , it almost felt like an invitation.
Days later, at a pro-Palestinian rally, the Cornell associate professor Russell Rickford said he was “exhilarated” by Hamas’s terrorist attack. (He later apologized and was granted a leave of absence.) In an article, a Columbia professor, Joseph Massad, seemed to relish the “awesome” scenes of “Palestinian resistance fighters” storming into Israel. Most recently, over 100 Columbia and Barnard professors signed a letter defending students who blamed Israel for Hamas’s attacks. To the best of our knowledge, none of these professors have received meaningful discipline, much less dismissal. Another green light.
Over these last few weeks, dozens of anti-Israel protests have been hosted on or near college campuses. Many of these demonstrations had threatening features: Masked students have chanted slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which many view as a call for the destruction of Israel. Others have shouted, “There is only one solution, intifada revolution.” The word “intifada” has a gruesome history: During the Aqsa intifada of the early 2000s, hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed in attacks .
On at least one occasion, these student protests have even interrupted candlelight vigils for the victims of Oct. 7. And they haven’t been condemned by the leadership at enough universities. In recent days, some universities, including Cornell, have released statements denouncing antisemitism on campus. Harvard also announced the creation of an advisory group to combat antisemitism.
The terms “Zionist” and “colonizer” have evolved into epithets used against Jewish students like us. These labels have been spit at some of us and our friends in dining halls, dorm common rooms, outside classes and at parties.
Failure by any university to affirm that taunts and intimidation have no place on campus legitimizes more violent behaviors. We are seeing it play out before our eyes.
At Columbia, an Israeli student was physically assaulted on campus. Near Tulane, a Jewish student’s head was bashed with the pole of a Palestinian flag after he attempted to stop protesters from burning an Israeli flag. And students at Cornell live in fear that their peers will actualize antisemitic threats.
All students have sacred rights to hold events, teach-ins and protests. And university faculty members must present arguments that make students uncomfortable. University campuses are unique hubs of intellectual discovery and debate, designed to teach students how to act within a free society. But free inquiry is not possible in an environment of intimidation. Harassment and intimidation fly in the face of the purpose of a university.
The codes of ethics of universities across the country condemn intimidation and hold students and faculty to standards of dignity and respect for others. Campuses are at a crossroads: The leadership can either enforce these ethics or these places of learning will succumb to mob rule by their most radical voices, risking the continuation of actual violence.
Simply affirming that taunts and intimidation have no place on campus isn’t enough. Professors violating these rules should be disciplined or dismissed. Student groups that incite or justify violence should not be given university funds to conduct activity on campus.
Furthermore, in line with anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, established university initiatives that protect minority groups must also include Jews. Universities should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, as a mechanism for properly identifying and eliminating anti-Jewish hate.
No students should be subject to discrimination, let alone outright threats and hostility, on the basis of their identity. This standard must be applied to Jewish students, too.
Finally, it is vital that individual campus community members — students, professors, alumni, staff members and parents — act against intimidation and incivility. Stand with your Jewish friends at peaceful assemblies. Call on universities via letters and petitions to restore civility on campus.
Although one may think antisemitism has an impact only on Jews, history shows it poisons society at large. Universities have a moral responsibility to counter hateful violence in all its forms. When they fail to do so, they fail us all.
Gabriel Diamond is a senior at Yale University studying political science. Talia Dror is a junior at Cornell University studying industrial and labor relations and business. Jillian Lederman is a senior at Brown University studying political science and economics.
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