Tips to Make Writing Essays Suck Just a Little Bit Less

It is inevitable. If you are a college student, you will have to write a multitude of essays for a majority of your classes, whether you like it or not. Between all of these research papers, literary analysis papers, and whatever else your professors can inflict on you, chances are you could use some help to make the process suck just a little bit less. Over my years of middle and high school, I have accumulated a few tools that have become lifesavers now that I am in college. I thought it would be beneficial to share these to hopefully help others to ease the pain as they tackle their essays throughout their college careers. I know that I am grateful to have had a few of these under my belt before coming here. 

I decided to write this article after struggling through a midterm paper for my anthropology class last week. I had a packed two weeks before the paper was due, which left me with a very limited amount of time to work on it. If it weren’t for the help of these tools, I would never have been able to write and submit my essay in five hours. Trust me when I tell you, it was a real nail-biter. I submitted it exactly three minutes before the due date, but I got it done.

 

1. Google Scholar

This is one that I just recently learned about. How many times have you gone to Google in search of a reliable source for your paper and instead, come up with thousands of blogs and Wikipedia pages that you really cannot use for an academic paper? I’m sure it has happened to you more times than one. You sit there scrolling for what seems like hours just to come across one scholarly article that is even remotely related to your topic. Stop doing that to yourself. It wastes so much valuable time that you could spend on writing. Next time, instead of going to Google, type in Google Scholar. This is a lifesaving feature of Google that filters through all of the results to your search and only gives you academic and scholarly pieces that are reliable, verified, cross-referenced, and, many times, posted with their citations. 

 

2. EasyBib

Bibliographies and works cited pages suck. They are the worst part of the essay, especially when you’re working with a large number of very different types of sources. There are so many rules and formatting requirements for formal citations that it is oftentimes the most difficult part of your paper. However, it doesn’t have to be. I learned about this website back in fourth grade and I have used it for every single works cited page that I’ve ever had to write since then. It is fantastic. All you have to do is choose the format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.), then choose what type of source you are trying to cite(book, website, video, photograph, etc.).  After choosing the correct settings, input the name of the source and click the button that says “Cite.” Easybib will locate the source and gather as much of the necessary information to create the citation. Anything it cannot locate, you can search for and input manually. Then, when you are finished, the website will create your citation for you and you can copy and paste it to any document. You can continue to add citations with the same process and Easybib will compile them into an alphabetically organized bibliography that can be downloaded onto your device. Trust me, this is a lifesaver. It will literally shave hours off of your essay writing.

 

3. Grammarly

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Grammarly costs money. No one wants to spend more money than they have to, no matter what it’s for. But Grammarly has a free version! It is not the full version with the “word choice” function or anything like that, but it is a more in-depth editor than the normal spelling and grammar check. It points out wordy phrases, incorrect verb tense, missing or excessive punctuation, and so much more without paying for the premium version. I always like to run my papers through Grammarly to catch anything that spelling and grammar check might miss. However, a word of warning: Grammarly is not always correct with its suggestions. Be sure to read through each one carefully before accepting it. It can sometimes not understand the context of the sentence or formatting that may have been an intentional choice. Be sure to use this tool mindfully.

 

4. Purdue OWL

This website is through Purdue University. It is called the Online Writing Lab, or OWL. This is a compilation of resources and guides that can answer basically any questions or issues you may have regarding your essay. You have access to tutorials that can help with specific issues. 

 

5. UConn Library and Database

The UConn Library has a multitude of books and resources for your research. Not only that, but there are private workrooms that you can rent out and use if you need isolation and quiet to get your work done. There is also an online database through UConn that can be used to locate information online. It gives you access to an expansive network of essays and academic work sorted by subject area. The cost of these resources is built into your tuition price so USE THEM.

 

6. UConn W Center

I saved this one for last because it is one of the best. Within the UConn Library, there is the Writing Center. This center offers one-on-one help to perfect your essay. There are specialized areas for citations, biology, psychology, and economics, as well as tutoring services. They even have a department for graduate writing. Again, you pay for this in your tuition, so USE IT. Appointments can be made online.