How to Write Effective Papers for Classes You Hate
Everyone will have a class they hate at some point in their college career. It's just a fact. And what's worse than having to write a pointless paper for a dumb class that has absolutely nothing to do with your major? It's difficult enough for me to find inspiration for papers in classes I actually enjoy, so it's painstaking to find something to write about in classes I can't stand. I've found that I don't care for most of the subjects of classes I've taken: history, business, economics. However, I have found a few things that help me through the writing process whenever that grueling midterm paper shows its ugly face.
- Try to relate the paper to something you love, something you can easily write about. If your business professor asks you to write about monopolistic competition, find a business you love that can be related to monopolistic competition. If your biology professor wants a detailed essay on genetics, write about the most attractive person you know. Find the things you love in the things you hate.
- Research, research, research. Yes, research can be a bore, and reading everything is so tiring and takes forever, but I promise it's all worth it once you finish and can hand in a paper you're able to honestly say you're proud of. Finding credible sources can be difficult, but don't let it be. Go to Google Books and search for your topic. You don't have to pay for the book to find something to use. Search for keywords in the preview they give you and cite those. Search for PDF files and downloadable Word documents. I found that a lot of the time, I was able to use those as credible sources. Look at the websites of newspapers and journals of the subject about which you're writing. If it's business, look at Forbes or the business section of Newsweek. If all else fails, go to Wikipedia and scroll to the bottom of the page for the sources section. Although Wikipedia isn't usually considered scholarly, it's a great place to find tons of other resources.
- Let your sources direct your train of thought. Find your sources first and sculpt your paragraphs around them. It's hard to incorporate your mandatory sources in a paper if you've already finished your paper. Find quotes you feel you can expand on that go with your train of thought. It's much easier to put something into a box and seal it later than it is to try to put something into a sealed box.
- Creative titles are key. Draw the reader in. Don't let your professor know you probably winged it the night before; make them think you enjoyed writing it. Come up with something witty. For business class we had to write a paper about the financial status of a restaurant called Very Vegetarian. To draw the reader in, I mimicked the name of the company by titling my paper "Is Very Vegan Very Financially Smart?". In another essay I had to write about Google's supposed violation of Section 5 of the FTC and titled it "Google's Big Goofle". Small changes like that can make a world of a difference when dealing with drawing readers in.
- Use the textbook to your advantage. I can't tell you how many times the textbook saved my grade. I can never seem to retain information regarding business, or any class I want nothing to do with for that matter. When I'm asked to give real life examples of things I have no clue about (like pure competition or monopolistic competition), I go to the textbook. Don't think it's just there to read when you have an assignment. Refer to it as much as possible because chances are, unless you have online articles assigned as well, the professor will be looking for your understanding of the topics based on how they're written in the text.
- Go over the limit if you have to. If your paper is 3 pages long and you still don't have what you need, keep going. As long as you get your point across, you're fine for now. You can eliminate and shorten sentences later.
- Use transitions. Don't talk about supply in one paragraph and jump to demand in the next. Although they're related, let the reader know they're related by allowing a gradual shift. Make the last sentence of the first paragraph and the first sentence of the second paragraph switch your topics. Introduce demand in the last sentence of the supply paragraph, then slightly rephrase that sentence and begin the demand paragraph with how supply coincides with demand.
- Tell a story. No one wants to continue reading a paper that starts by immediately jumping into the topic. If your assignment is about how technology negatively affects society, draw them in with a situation regarding someone who is texting and driving. Find an example that can be carried out through the whole paper. It shows good understanding when you can relate a real life example to an essay topic. If you can begin and conclude a paper with a story that clearly and effectively relates to your topic, it will make your arguments much stronger. Additionally, stories allow you to elaborate further on your topics.