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Newsweek Article On College Essays

Here is a list of ten online writing guides that can be helpful for both young and experienced students.

There are guides that are quick and easy to follow and there are very intensive ones as well. There are guides that give tips that students may use as their personal grammar rulebook. And there is even a guide that may help inspire one when composing his own essay template and plan.

All the resources suggest quite different approach and information on essay writing, so choose the one that fits your needs the best and watch your writing improve.

1. Guide to Writing a Basic Essay

This is a guide that gives very basic and general information on how to write an essay. It is not for someone trying to get the highest grade and is not for overachievers. It is for people in high school that have not written many essays and for people that need a quick refresh on writing essays. The biggest advantage of this resource is its simplicity. It doesn’t go into masses of details, that make the guide easier to use.

2. Essaymama’s Essay Writing Guide

Essaymama’s Essay Writing Guide was created by professional writers that had to write essays for their living. Over time, they have learned a lot of tricks and tips for getting higher grades, and they shared these tips via this resource. Besides, the guide has quite easy and accurate structure, so you will not have to spend much time to find the information you need. If you want to get general information on writing essays along with practical tips then you should look through this guide.

3. Guide to Grammar and Writing

This website suggests in-depth and comprehensive guide on writing, but unfortunately it has an outdated form of navigation, so you may find yourself searching for quite a while before you get what you want. If you plough through and keep searching, you will find some very in-depth and very correct information you can use to improve your writing skills and your essays.

RELATED: 7 writing mistakes you need to stop making today

4. Own Online Writing Lab

This may be one of the most correct writing websites on the Internet. There are no secret snippets of information on this website that will get you a better grade, but there is correct information about grammar and the English language. It is the sort of website a teacher may use to ensure he or she teaches the right thing. Think of this website as a rulebook for the English language that eventually will improve your writing skills.

5. Writing Center – Strategies for Essay Writing

This is not a guide on grammar or the English language like the OWL resource, nor a loaded with tips and advice like the EssayMama guide. This is a website that gives you general strategies for essay writing. The authors of the resource have written articles on each of the essay elements, that make the website easier to use and to find the information you look for.

6. Education Exeter – A Brief Guide to Writing Essays

This is a short writing guide that is probably mostly used by people that need a quick refresher on how to write essays and a quick reminder on essay writing concepts. If you are not sure how to write essays, but you are also not too worried about getting a higher mark/grade, then this resource is suitable for you. It may be brief, but it is definitely better than most of the YouTube videos you are going to see on the subject.

7. Student University Essay Writing Basics

This is another website that offers a very basic and very short refresher course on writing essays. It has been built by a university but is so simple that a high school student could use and understand it. The resource gives a list of possible steps while writing essays and tells how to succeed at each of them.

8. David Gauntlett Essay Writing Guide

This is a downloadable resource that gives you a rundown of how you may write essays. It starts with the basics and then goes into more details as to how you may write each section of your essay. If you have a tablet reader, it may be a good document to load and read in sections when you have free time or when you are traveling on a bus or train, for example.

9. College of Dublin – Guidelines for Essay Writing

If you suffer from writer’s block, then this is the perfect resource for you. It is set out as if it were an essay-writing plan. However, it is not for people that have no idea how to write essays. This is for students that consider themselves to be very good at writing essays and want to create an essay writing process and template to make the writing process easier. Think of it as a checklist or shopping list full of things you need to consider when you write your essay.

10. A Helpful Guide to Essay Writing by Anglia Ruskin University

This is a PDF file that offers a guide to writing your essays. It starts simply with thing such as how to plan and structure your essay, and then moves into writing, drafting, refining and checking your work. It then goes into the different types of essay you may write and the styles you may be asked to write. Once you have read it all, you may use it as a reference guide. So for example, if you are asked to write a research paper you can check with the PDF on how to do it correctly.

This article originally appeared on Surviving College, the ultimate source for all things college and entertainment, made for college students.

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It doesn't run much longer than 500 words, shorter than most high-school English assignments. Yet for so many students the essay remains the most daunting part of the college-application process, perhaps because it is the only part over which they can exert almost total control. As a result, they procrastinate, assuring that the anxiety will ratchet up to fever pitch.

So how best to approach the essay? I sought advice from experts with, collectively, more than a century of experience in the admissions game: Susan Case, former director of college counseling at the elite, private Milton Academy outside Boston; Charles Deacon, dean of admissions at Georgetown University; Karen Kuskin-Smith, retired head of college counseling at Brookline High School in suburban Boston; Jim Miller, dean of admission at Brown University; and Nanette Tarbouni, who just retired as director of undergraduate admissions at Washington University in St. Louis.

There is no such thing as a perfect essay: OK, maybe Mark Twain or John Updike wrote one. But you don't want to use those (or anyone else's, for that matter). If your essay is a masterpiece, you'd better have the credentials to back it up. Mostly, admissions folks want to see that you can forge a beginning and an end—and between the two carry coherent thoughts through several paragraphs.

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Start early.
You have plenty of time to think during the spring, when you are traveling to 25 different campuses, or the summer, while you are performing some brain-dead job. The weight of the essay grows exponentially the longer you wait. Coming up with the essay topic is one place where parents may actually be useful, helping you recall experiences and reflecting on your special qualities. Tarbouni suggests writing a few sentences for several prospective essays. Let them percolate for a few weeks; then whichever makes you want to read the next sentence is the winner. Or, as Miller says: "Pick something you know, trust your instincts, write about it, and get on with your life."

Avoid the clichéd.
Some experiences that are important to you may be all too familiar to the admissions folks. Avoid the big trip where you learn it's a small world after all, or the big game where you learn it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. Even a death or divorce, as tragic or sad as it may be, can come across as emotionally stale if all it reveals is how you persevered. Avoid big issues—"Too many people save the world," says Kuskin-Smith—unless you really are on the verge of a solution to global warming.

Consider a smaller canvas.
It doesn't require a big event to generate a compelling essay. One student wrote about why an Iron Maiden poster graces his bedroom wall. A young woman wrote about how she got to know her patrons serving them breakfast on her weekend job. A young man wrote about witnessing a man and woman arguing and how it made him reflect on gender imbalances. If you insist on harking back to one of your major life experiences, take a small piece of it. One young man wrote an essay about his morning walk past an alluring pastry shop in Lisbon. A young woman wrote of her summer on a Lakota Sioux reservation where she became obsessed with outlasting the men in the swelter of the ceremonial sweat lodge.

The essay should never be essentially a recitation of the résumé. The admissions officers are less interested in what you did than how it made you feel and what you took away from the experience. Emotional honesty tends to shine through. Baring one's soul may be an intimidating prospect, but Deacon says most essays suffer from excessive caution. They reflect what students think the college wants rather than what they want to reveal about themselves.

A little humility can be useful.
Most applicants opt for self-aggrandizement over self-effacement. "Too many kids are perfectly willing to tell you how wonderful they are," says Miller. "Teenagers don't tend to examine their faults under the microscope." Be careful, though, when using humor. Miller warns, "If you think you are funny, make sure somebody else thinks you're funny, too."

Answer the question.
Using the same essay for multiple applications is expected. But if a college presents a unique essay question, produce a new essay or at least recast the old one to address it.

Spelling and grammar do count.
With so many tools at their disposal, students shouldn't expect spelling and grammar mistakes to be tolerated. These errors, above all, convey laziness. The admissions world has its own lore: the young woman who loved her work as a "candy stripper"; the young man who, at 18, was already a master of "marital arts."

"Too Many Cooks Spoil … "
Editing help from an adult is fine; turning it over to someone for a rewrite is not. Admissions officers covet authenticity and swear they can recognize a pro's hand in the process. While it's valuable to show your essay to someone you trust, it's a mistake to have too many people vet it, likely generating conflicting viewpoints. Parents too often lack objectivity about their child, and thus may not be the best choice for counsel at the end stages. "The question the student should be asking," says Case, "is not 'Do you like it?' but 'Does it represent me?' "