Tuesday, January 14

Writing for High School & College (College Prep)

You probably began writing essays in middle school, and started writing longer ones in high school, but as you enter the collegiate field, you'll be required to write more complex and effective essays.  It's important to understand how to clearly communicate...

Look for more in-depth discussion of this topic and more in Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success! This book & worktext set will help you and your high school student breeze through the steps of college and scholarship applications, as well as brushing up on study habits and life skills. The worktext includes activities, worksheets, and planning pages, and accompanies the book.

There are three basic types of essays:
  • Argumentative - The most basic form, the write makes a claim about a topic and then backs it up with research and evidence.  This may be an opinion, cause and effect statement, or a proposal.  The writer's job is to persuade the reader.
  • Expository - Explains a topic in a particular context.  eg, The financial crisis as a result of 9/11.  This form requires both research and deductive reasoning.
  • Analytical - Breaks down a topic into its key components, evaluating the topic through its presentation.  This is the most complex form.
The introduction should be the strongest part of your paper.  It is here that you will pick a topic, present your thesis, and outline how you propose to support your thesis.  The reader should be able to tell from this introduction whether this is a paper worth reading.  Make it count!

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  • Narrow down your topic from the general topic the professor provided.  Try to choose a topic you are interested in so that this will seem more like self-directed research than an assignment.
  • If you have a few topics in mind, do some preliminary research on a few of them to see how much evidence and support you'll be able to find for your paper.  Choose the one you are most comfortable with supporting.
  • Consider the type of paper you have been assigned, and be sure that your thesis is worded in that format.  eg, An argumentative paper takes a position you are prepared to defend.
  • Write your topic at the top of a page (or on a whiteboard).
  • Divide the page underneath it into three (or four, or five) different areas.  Use a nice, thick line to separate them.
  • At the top of each of these areas, write your sub-topic headings.
  • Now you're ready to research!  As you find information, write it down in the appropriate sub-topic area.  You may find that it's easier to do a separate sheet for each sub-topic for a longer paper.
  • Be sure to note your sources for the bibliography later!
Make a Statement
  • Look over all of the information you've gathered thus far.
  • If you don't have an idea of your thesis statement, see where you can draw connections.  What can you say about this information in regards to your topic?
  • The thesis statement should be one sentence long, but is the crux of your paper.  The rest of your essay will be backing up your thesis.  That one sentence should demonstrate what type of paper you are writing:  expository, argumentative, or analytical.
  • Here are some sample thesis statements, based on the type of paper:
    • Argumentative - Instead of sending tax money overseas to help struggling countries, the US should be assisting their own struggling citizens.
    • Expository - The life of a child raised in rural China consists of a lot of hard work, no play, and extreme poverty.
    • Analytical - The irony of the loan process for third world country citizens is that they must already have money in order to qualify for a loan.
  • Once you have your thesis and supporting topics, you're ready to write the paper!
Wrap it Up
  • Use a separate sheet of paper for each source.  Cite the bibliography at the top of that sheet of paper.  This will make it easier to know where each piece of information originated later.
    • Don't know how to do a bibliography?  Check here.
  • Plagiarism is not cool...so don't do it.  Quoting someone with proper citation?  That's ok.
Pick up the text and workbook, with 33 modules, in your copy of Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success!


  1. Keeping up with the math!


    1. With one heading into engineering, I totally get that!

  2. My biggest concern is making sure my son is ready for college!

    1. I'll bet he's more ready than you think. :)


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