How Decision to Rewrite My Paper Became the Best I've Made in College
February 05, 2017 - Posted toWriting
All through high school, I wrote essays and papers. I wrote them in a lot of my classes – history, biology, health, art, and, of course English. In most of those classes, I got very average grades on these pieces. In English, I sometimes got lower than average grades. My English teachers would use a lot of red ink to point my egregious errors of sentence structure, awkward composition, agreement mistakes, etc., and I pretty much ignored them. Never was I asked to rewrite an essay or paper that was poorly written or included some types of plagiarism which was also often pointed out. Editing and rewriting were just not in my experience. College quickly changed all of that.
Bad Grades Woke Me Up
The first thing that hit me between the eyes in college was that I would be writing a lot of essays and papers – in almost every class, actually. When I submitted the same quality that was my “trademark” in high school, I didn’t receive average to just below average grades. I received “F’s.” There were no errors pointed out, only terse phrases at the top – phrases like “Proofread your work!” or “Edit before you submit!” That pretty much did it. I decided that every time I wrote a paper, I would have to review it, find the errors, and rewrite my paper before turning it in. I had the best of intentions from that point forward.
Good Intentions – Not So Good Results
I began to work very hard to edit and rewrite my essay and paper assignments. I also put them all through a plagiarism checker, because some of my high school teachers had found some of this. A big issue was that I was not citing sources correctly. But my grades still didn’t improve that much even after I fixed that problem. What I came to realize was that I had structural errors, grammatical errors and usage error that I was not catching. In short, I didn’t have a clue about how to really review, edit and rewrite a rough draft to make it suitable for submission. I had lots of work to do.
Learning How to Revise and Rewrite
I began by reading some sources on learning to revise your writing and did pick up a lot of pointers. There really are several areas of review that all should be done separately. These include such things as:
Reading the entire piece of writing without any concern for grammar or punctuation, but for the confirmation of a good thesis statement and a logical flow of the ideas I wanted to present.
The second reading was one I read out loud. This was a pretty good activity, because I was able to find sentence fragments and run-ons and even see where maybe some commas should be placed.
Another piece of advice I got from reading some of the articles about reviewing and editing my writing was this whole thing about transitions between paragraphs. This was something I never had much instruction on in high school, and it was really an important feature for college level writing. I needed some more professional help so began to look at a rewriting tool another student recommended.
A Great Editing Service
At first, I felt a little strange using an essay editing service. It almost felt like I was cheating. On the other hand, I knew there were other students using writing services for all sorts of help – researching and writing their essays and papers, and, yes, even having them edited the way I was. Here’s the thing about using a solid, reputable writing and editing service:
Everyone has academic strengths and weaknesses. And getting help is nothing to be ashamed about.
When students know that they have issues, and they get help, especially with editing college papers and essays, they can then study how that editing process works; they can see their errors and how they have been corrected by a professional. These become learning experiences.
With every essay or paper I send over for editing, I get back a corrected copy, with simple explanations about why the changes were made – each time I learn something that I will be able to use the next time I write.
The other nice thing about this professional editing service is that they check my writing for plagiarism. And they have provided explanations about how to avoid it. They also educated me about self-plagiarism, something that college students don’t even think about, but I will in the future.
Plagiarism and Self-Plagiarism
Most students understand plagiarism and the disastrous consequences if they do it. With the sophisticated software out there today, any plagiarism can be discovered. Sometimes we plagiarize and don’t even realize it. I was famous for taking notes, using an author’s exact words and then not giving credit where I should have. Now I run a plagiarism scan on everything I write. And if I send it over to my writing service for editing, they do this too.
Self-plagiarism occurs when a student (or anyone for that matter) writes a piece and it is published somewhere online. And that student likes the piece so much, he decides to turn it in as an essay assignment to a professor. If a plagiarism scan is run, it will pop up. Why? Because it’s out there – in a blog, in the e-version of the student newspaper, in some forum, etc. This is especially important for grad students who may be contributing to online publications in order to enhance their resumes and CV’s. In these cases, it is far better to be up front and ask permission, before you have to ask for forgiveness.
Not All College Writing is formal
Academic writing is formal. The rules of proper English must be followed, especially for essays and papers. But a lot of college coursework will require a more casual style.
Students of journalism or who are enrolled in courses such as content marketing, will find that there will be a major shift in style requirements. Good grammar and spelling is not thrown out the window, but this type of writing is very different. If you are enrolled in such courses, here are a few tips:
Brevity of words is important. Say what you have to say as succinctly as possible.
Sentences are short and simple.
Example: There are many good authors who started out as journalists (windy
Many good authors started out as journalists. (short and sweet.)
Use action/strong verbs as opposed to weak ones.
Example: She is now running every day (weak)
She runs every day (stronger, shorter)
Cut the Use of Adverbs
Example: Really great = Amazing
If you take a course that requires this kind of writing, you will discover that your academic writing will improve too.
Take Your Editing Seriously – Your Grades Will Thank You
College is not the place to turn in your first draft and hope for the best. Expectations are high, and you will be expected to write well, no matter what the course. If you are not practiced in editing, get the help you need, learn from that help, and over time, you will be able to do this yourself.
Having a passion for writing, Lauren started with editing her friends’ essays – a skill that evolved into a profession and a life style. Being comfortable around any topic is her boon, but she happen to specialize the most in self-improvement, motivation, coaching and any type of writing.