By: Lisa Bradley, Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Science in Health
One of the many challenges college students encounter is completing writing assignments successfully. In my experience, college students typically fall into one of two writing groups: Under-pagers and Over-pagers. Under-pagers skip key assignment parameters and often write on obscure topics selected at the last minute. Over-pagers include jargon, clichés and complicated sentences meant to fulfill the assigned word or page count. Procrastination coupled with the pressures of getting “The A” can become so overwhelming that both groups take to consulting “Cousin Google or Cousin Yahoo” for writing tips vs. utilizing instructor and college resources. While all writing assignments are not the same – here are a few general tips I provide to my students:
1) Understand the assignment.
Before you start writing it is important to understand the assignment. Don’t make “assignment assumptions” even if the assignment is given by the same instructor/same course. Review the assignment expectations and have a clear understanding of: due dates, submission requirement (Canvas or in class), writing style (APA, MLA, etc.), number of pages, number of words, and other essential writing assignment parameters.
2) Get UF Writing tutors and Shafer Library On-lock.
Once you know the due date of your writing assignment – request a face-to-face or online tutoring appointment with UF writing tutors. Here is the link I share with my students: https://www.findlay.edu/offices/academic/academic-support-center/tutoring. Writing tutors can help you to interpret the assignment and prepare your paper with the appropriate writing style, reference page and in-text citations. Most writing assignments require multiple resources/references and the Shafer Library can help you fine tune your search for resources either on-line and/or within Shafer itself. Here’s a link to get you connected with Shafer: https://www.findlay.edu/offices/academic/shafer-library/.
3) Manage your time.
Writing assignments test your time management skills – so be prepared by setting realistic goals for completing and submitting your assignment on time. My under-pagers and over-pagers typically procrastinate and underestimate the time it will take to complete a successful writing assignment. They don’t consider the time it will take to complete tip one and two above. To avoid this mistake, I advise students to utilize a calendar (electronic or paper) and write the day the assignment is due and start as early as possible. Learning how to navigate all of the resources available takes time and the more you do it – the better you will develop a unique rhythm for accomplishing all of the tasks involved in writing successfully.
Lisa Bradley has been teaching at the University of Findlay since 2015. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Accounting & Business Administration from Bluffton University, her Doctor of Education in Specialization in Educational Leadership Management from Capella University, and received her MBA in Leadership from Tiffin University.