Writing Center Title, The First Year
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Improving Over the First YearWriter's Web
Content by Astoria Aviles and Gabrielle Pound, Site by Megan Venable

(printable version here)

Revision, returning to a written draft to reorganize, rewrite, and reconsider your ideas, is an important part of the writing process. Similarly, as you progress through your first year, you will find that your writing process and writing style can change and improve. The video and links below offer some insight into how you can expect to best improve your performance from your first college essay to later assignments.

Q: How do your expectations change over the course of the semester for your students? How do they typically improve? How do the students adjust themselves over the course of the semester to become more successful writers?

A: Joyce MacAllister, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English:

"I think most of us understand why students have problems in writing. It's frightening. As somebody once said, it's like taking your clothes off in public, you know? You are exposing your thinking process and what you can do."

Video Transcript

Key Points

1. Respond to professors' comments on previous papers when starting a new assignment. The comments are supposed to help you, so keep them in mind!

2. Many professors will assign more and more sophisticated assignments as the semester progresses. Expect to incorporate more reasearch and analysis into later papers.

3. "We all procrastinate to a certain extent... Writing is tough. There is nothing wrong with you."

  • Procrastination is a persistent problem for many college writers, but it is never too early to try to overcome this habit by facing writing anxiety head on. Getting a head start on writing will give you more time to consult your professor and to revise your work.
  • The writing process is personal and difficult. We have some tips on confronting writing anxiety to relieve stress and to increase productivity!
  • Writing at the college level can be daunting. Figure out your own "writing rituals," start early, and be confident!
  • Even with these tips, many of us still procrastinate. Take a look at some of the warning signs of a rushed paper... it is worthwhile to plan ahead in order to avoid turning in an essay with these mistakes!

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