Write to Impress: Impressing Your Professor

One of the best things anybody can do in any class where essays are involved is to really get to know the professor. A good understanding of what your professor expects in your writing will serve as a compass, leading you through the time consuming writing process steadily and unwaveringly. But how do you acquire this understanding? It is very important that you take advantage of your professor’s office hours. If there are no office hours, then try to meet with him or her after class.

Almost universally, your professor will do what he or she can to help you with your writing, offering valuable suggestions for tweaks and edits. Pay close attention to your professor’s suggestions, as these are indicative of their overall preferences for written work. Professors love it when students show an interest in their class beyond merely showing up and doing the work. When you show up for office hours it makes them think “hey, this kid really works hard, and really wants a good grade”. So beyond being a great way to actually get much needed help, talking to your professor outside of class is likely to affect your grade in a positive way just through psychology.

It is such an effective strategy, in fact, that many students who don’t really need help on their essays “play the game” and show up anyway. We’ll let you decide whether they’re shameless brown-nosers or just savvy grade-hounds. All we know is that they get better grades than those who are “too cool for school.” Your professors are generally the altruistic, liberal type, and it gives them warm fuzzies when they think they’re guiding and helping students. So take advantage of them by any and all means!

Finding a Voice

This falls under the category of “style”, but its magnitude of importance warrants a category unto itself. It doesn’t require much description, however, because it is pretty much self-explanatory. You want to have a distinct voice in your writing. No matter what the topic is, you are telling a story. Write it like you speak it. Be sure that your word choice reflects your own semantic preferences. Make it entertaining to the reader. A writer’s work can sound humorous, serious, or lugubrious without the content being explicitly any one of those things. Do not forget to convey your voice in a way that is readable and grammatically correct. And, while accurately rendered idioms and colloquial witticisms will give your paper that much-sought-after feeling of authentic rusticity, please use them sparingly. Save your comprehensive mastery of dialects and folk-speech for poems, short stories, and novels.

This guest post was written by Maggie Warren. If you’re ready to impress your professor and get more tips on how to write an essay without feeling stuck or confused, visit her website to download her ebook.

One Thought on “Write to Impress: Impressing Your Professor”

  1. Pull out unflattering memories

    It can be instinctive to paint the best picture of yourself possible in your essay, but put aside vanity and pride for a moment. Good essays don’t all need to hype up an applicant’s superpowers: They can expose weaknesses, demonstrating subtlety and self-awareness.

    Forget “writing from the heart”

    Parents and teachers will often tell students who are just starting out on their essays to “write sincerely,” “write about your feelings,” “write about what matters to you.” That advice, while well-intentioned, is not helpful. An essay can be completely heartfelt—and terrible.

    Instead of starting from such a broad place, begin with the narrow strategy of researching the worst college-essay clichés; that way, even if you don’t have the faintest idea what to write about, you at least know what you have to avoid.
    Don’t be interesting. Be interested

    Write about what you’re interested in, not what you think is interesting about you. But this doesn’t mean you should ramble on pointlessly for five paragraphs. Make sure your topic reveals something about yourself, or why you want to study and pursue the things you do.

    Tell a story—however you want to

    When it comes to the college essay, taking a risk—however small or big—is better than playing it safe. Try writing different versions of your essay, maybe in completely different formats, just to see if one of them resonates more than the others. Think of it not as an essay in the academic sense, but an unlined blank canvas you can use to present whatever you want. That said, no sound effects—please.

    Proofread

    Run your essay through spellcheck. Ask a teacher, friend, parent, or counselor to read it over—then ask five more people to do the same. Admissions officers barrel through dozens of essays a day, and the rote tedium of it can cause them to be hyper-critical of even the smallest of typos and grammatical errors. Show them this small respect, and you’ve already beat out many others kids for that coveted acceptance letter.

Leave a Reply