How to Write Term Papers: 5 Tips for Freshman

Writing papers in college is somewhat different than in high school. In most grade school assignments, teachers are very lax about certain things so long as you fulfill the basic requirements of the assignment. You’ll find that some college instructors are similar, but that this isn’t the norm, not by far. Get started off on the right foot by following these five simple tips.

  1. Follow instructions exactly.
  2. Your grade school instructor may have ignored errors in spelling, grammar, formatting, and citation, but don’t expect that from a college instructor. Don’t expect them just to deduct a few points from your final grade, either. Most college instructors will outright refuse to accept an assignment that doesn’t follow the instructions.

  3. Don’t rely on fluff.
  4. You may have been able to get away with padding your high school assignments with a lot of fluff. Meaningless phrases, repetition, and run on sentences, however, won’t go unnoticed by college instructors. Expect to receive a much lower grade if you pad word counts and page length with filler.

  5. Plan Ahead
  6. Another mistake you may make is not to plan ahead. Getting caught by deadlines is much easier in college than in high school, because as a freshman you don’t have a good idea of how much work to expect per class. Each of your college instructors operates on their own schedule, and they frankly aren’t interested in what other work you have to complete for other classes. When you receive an assignment make a schedule right away for when you will choose a topic, how long you will have to research, when you will create an outline, and when you write the final paper.

  7. Grammar and Spelling
  8. Of course, you think your grammar and spelling are fine—but standards for college level term papers are much higher than you’re used to. Depending on your computer’s spellcheck isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need to have someone proofread and edit your paper before turning it in, and expect your teacher to grade any mistakes very harshly. You’re expected to turn in papers that are perfect in terms of grammar and spelling.

  9. Turn it in on Time
  10. Unlike your high school teachers, college instructors will not be patient if you’re late—consider the essays due date to be non-negotiable, or expect to have receive a failing grade if it’s not finished.