January 15, 2017 - Posted to Writing Tips
As millions of students prepare for their semesters, the one thing that baffles many of them when taking on a college degree is the difference between high school writing and college writing.
It is not a puzzle that your professors are using to trick you. On the contrary, you are better off entering college English classes, and better equipped more so than some high school classes. How, you ask?
You get a syllabus. This document that is given at the beginning of every semester is a legal contract between you and your instructor. It is not to be stuffed into your bookbag and forgotten until it is too late.
When you receive your syllabus for your English courses, it is very important that you read through it. We suggest that you read it twice. If you have taken more than one English literature course, read them and put all the work in priority of the dates that the work is due.
You as a student, expect your professors to teach you the curriculum you signed up for so that you can obtain a degree. Your professors expect that you will read the syllabus and turn in the work listed on it. Do the following after receiving your syllabus:
- Put them in their individual folders- this will keep you from losing them among stacks of papers that will accumulate during your semester
- Using your phone, log in due dates of each assignment- make sure that the alarm feature is set for 3 days before each assignment. This gives you time to catch up in case you have forgotten an assignment.
- After reading through your syllabus get your required books.
- Once you have your books and have read through the syllabus make a list of any questions that you may have for your professor. If the list has more than 3 questions, make an appointment to see him/her to clarify anything on the syllabus you do not understand.
Meeting with your professor is expected. They put their name and office hours on their syllabus for you to contact them. If you have a professor that does not include this on his/her syllabus, ask for the information before the end of the first class by raising your hand and asking for it in front of the entire class.
Some professors will have listed in their syllabus a date that you can turn in your paper early to see if there are any improvements that they can suggests. This is called a rough draft.
If there is no option to turn in a rough draft, meet with your professor to ask for extra help with your paper along the way. Do not wait until a couple of days before your paper is due to do this. You will know by the end of the first week, if you are diligent, if you need help.
Your professor is not responsible to hold your hand, but he/she will assist you in every way they can if you reach out to them.
Professor/ Student Relationship
Your professor is there to help you succeed. When you pass the course, they are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. There are students who have written in and said that they think their professors are out to get them, and our answer is always, this cannot be further from the truth.
We are not saying that it is totally impossible for this scenario to happen, but it is rare. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot understand you professor due to their accent (some professors have strong accents that are not from your country) ask them to slow down when teaching so that you can understand them.
If you find that you just cannot be taught by you professor, it just is not working, then there is a grace period where you have the right to drop the class or ask that you replace the class with something else until you can take it with another professor.
In all your dealings with your esteemed professors who have dedicated their lives to teach, have deep respect. You can go a longer way with a smile and understanding tone than with a belligerent attitude.
Whatever you do, read the paper formatting requirements again after you have gathered all your information and you are now ready to write your paper. I had a professor once that could look at a paper and right away could tell if the margins were off a bit. Not all professors are that anal, but if they put formatting requirements in their syllabus, they are serious about them, remember, this is a legal document agreement between you and your professor.
If your professor asks for 5 pages, do not write 4 pages and then try to put a picture on the fifth page to try to make up for the space. They know all the tricks and will call you on them.
Do the Work/ Get Done Early
When all is said, and done, doing the work on a schedule is how you understand your writing tasks and get them done. For instance, if you have a 10-page paper which includes an annotated bibliography, if you start working in the first week of class and complete 3 pages of work a week, you will be done within a three-week period.
Just imagine that! You get 15 weeks in most semesters and you are done in three weeks. That must be how some kids get to go on beach or ski trips while some are still stuck in the library. Get to work!