College Writing Tips

College Writing Tip: Go to Class

This might seem a little redundant right?

Well let me tell you a story. When I was substituting at my local high school, one of my senior students told me, “I can’t wait to go to college, it’s gonna be so much better than this place!”

I responded, “You’re right, it will be better, but it is also going to be harder. No one is going to force you to go to class, no one is going to care if you show up or not.”

“Awesome! Then I’ll actually have freedom!”

“That’s true, you will have freedom. You’ll have the freedom to not take your classes seriously, you’ll have the freedom to skip, and you’ll have the freedom to fail subjects that you are more than capable of passing.”

Of course, in true senior fashion, this student shrugged off my warning, but I do hope that they will come to remember it. This semester, I had a student miss over 50% of my class. When it came to the end of the semester and he was failing, he could not understand why regardless of how much I stressed class attendance and participation.

According to CSION PR Newswire (read full article here) students skip class for the following reasons:

This data—consisting of nearly 1.1 million tweets—provided Class120 with an unprecedented look into why students skip class, with five primary reasons becoming clear:

  • Hanging with Friends: 37 percent of the Twitter posts referenced skipping class to spend more time with their friends.

  • Too Tired: 32 percent of students tweeted that they were sleeping or too tired to go to class.

  • Recreation: 17 percent of students indicated a specific recreational event or activity that took precedence over attending class. There were a vast number of specific events mentioned, including sports, watching television and playing video games.

  • Studying: 11 percent of students mentioned being too busy with other school work to attend class.

  • Weather: three percent of students’ posts cited the weather—whether too beautiful or too unpleasant—as the reason they skipped.

As a professor and a teacher, I really do get it. Sometimes going to class sucks, there are days when I would rather be at the beach, or Disneyland, or sleeping, or working on my books, but it is my job to teach and it is the student’s job to attend.

I encourage every student out there to attend classes regularly! You really have no idea what you miss when you miss repeatedly.

Attending is a HUGE part of Succeeding! – KaylaAnn

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

College Writing Tips

College Writing Tip: Thesis Statement- What? How? Why? (Part Two)

Thesis Statements can be tricky, but they are not impossible!

This is Part Two of my three-post series talking all about those wonderful Thesis Statements. This mini-series contains three separate posts about how to craft a thesis statement for your main three essays in composition courses. Indeed, regardless of the type of essay, I have three questions that you can (and should) ask whenever you start formulating your thesis statement.

What? How? Why?

Today we are going to look at the Literary Essay Thesis Statement and how my three questions apply to its development.

Literary Essay

A Literary Essay looks at a piece of literature, either a short story, a poem, or a book and attempts to understand it in new ways. Often times, students will look at themes, symbolism, motifs, and other literary devices to help decode secret meanings. Think of it as you are the detective and you’re trying to solve the meaning of this piece of literature by putting together all the clues.

For our example, we are going to look at the Grimm’s fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel.”

First, we must ask: WHAT? In a literary analysis there are often all types of “what”. What symbols are present in the story? What is the overarching theme? What images are repeating? What is the author trying to say?

  • For “Hansel and Gretel” I chose this question. What is with the predominate symbol or image throughout the story? Then it hit me, FOOD! I mean, have you read “Hansel and Gretel” lately? Food is EVERYWHERE!
    • See what I did there? I made an observation (food is everywhere) and turned it into my first question (What are the Grimm Brothers doing with the food?)
  • So here is my answer to my first question: The Grimm Brothers use the imagery of food throughout their story.

Secondly, we must ask: HOW? In Literary Analysis, the how is often referring to how the author is incorporating imagery or symbols, how the author is supporting the overarching theme, etc.

  • So, my question is this: How are the Grimm Brothers using the image of food or the action of eating?
  • Answer: The stepmother’s own greediness concerning food. The witch’s house in intentionally created out of various sugary desserts. The witch herself greedily devours children.

Lastly, we must ask: WHY? Why are the authors using these specifics symbols, these particular images, this key theme throughout? What is their point?

  • So, my question is this: Why do the Grimm brothers associate food with these various characters or actions?
  • Answer: The repetitious insertion of food within the narrative serves as a cautionary warning to children to avoid gluttony and greed.

Finally, it is time to put together our WHAT, HOW, and WHY to form our thesis statement.

In “Hansel & Gretel,” written by the Grimm Brothers, food is a reoccurring motif used throughout the story to symbolize the dangers of gluttony and greed as seen through the step-mother’s abandonment of her children, the imagery of the witch’s house, and the witch herself.

And there you have it: a completed thesis statement for a Literary Analysis Essay! This thesis statement is clearly arguable (stating that the food is more than just food) and it provides the layout for the essay (first we will look at the step-mother, then the witch’s house, then the witch herself).

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Choose your favorite fairy tale, or a poem, or even a book and ask yourself WHAT, HOW, and WHY. Like before, I would love to read what you come up with!

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

College Writing Tips

College Writing Tip: Thesis Statement- What? How? Why? (Part One)

Thesis Statements can be tricky, but they are not impossible! Therefore, I am going to do a mini-series of post all about the thesis statement (can you tell I’m a nerd?). This mini-series will contain three separate posts about how to craft a thesis statement for your main three essays (Evaluation, Literary, and Argument) in composition courses. Indeed, regardless of the type of essay, I have three questions that you can (and should) ask whenever you start formulating your thesis statement.

What? How? Why?

Today we are going to look at the Evaluation Essay Thesis Statement and how my three questions apply to its development.

Evaluation Essay

The Evaluation Essay is (you guessed it) where you evaluate something. To evaluate really means to judge something based on a certain set of credentials. The easiest example of this is using a movie because we all evaluate movies the moment we finish watching them. Either we loved it, hated it, or we are somewhere in between.

I encourage you to do this exercise with me! Think about a movie that is your absolute favorite or a movie that you completely hate. Have one in mind?

Now, ask yourself: WHAT is the movie that you have chosen and what is your opinion?

  • For example, I will choose Love Never Dies. My opinion is that the movie fails as a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

Next, ask yourself: HOW can I support my opinion? (It’s usually crucial to choose at least three criteria to support your opinion)

  • Love Never Dies fails as a sequel because 1) it strays from realistic characterization, 2) there are plot holes between the two movies 3) the ending is unsatisfactory
  • BONUS! Add in a counter-argument that you will either concede to (agree with) or rebut (disagree with). My counter-argument: The music was fantastic!

Lastly, ask yourself: WHY is this important? Why should someone care? Why are you writing this essay? (and no the answer cannot be because your horrible, mean teacher forced you to). This question often verges on the “so-what,” which is one of the most difficult things to address so don’t feel to bad if this seems weird to you.

  • This evaluation should influence how people view the movie if they have already seen it and perhaps challenge their own opinions.
  • In some essays the so-what is more obvious, but in others its more of a motivating factor to keep in the back of your mind.

Finally, it is time to craft the thesis! We have answered all our questions now it is time to put it all together, be sure to include the what, the how, and (try to hint) at the why.

Here is my finished Evaluative Thesis Statement:

While the music within Love Never Dies is undeniably impeccable, the sequel for The Phantom of the Opera is ultimately a failure as it strays from realistic and consistent characterization, there are multiple plot holes between the two films, and the open-ended nature of the resolution is unsatisfactory at best.

There you have it folks, a clear, arguable Evaluative Thesis Statement that clearly demonstrates the layout for my essay.

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Pick a movie, any movie and show me what you got! I’m a nerd, remember? I would love to read your Thesis Statements and see how you answer: HOW, WHAT, and WHY.

Happy Writing!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.