Tag Archives | english

Image by Jan Krömer, Flickr

Image by Jan Krömer, Flickr

If you’ve earned a degree in journalism, you must have a love of print and spreading the written word. You’ve done the coursework, and now it’s time to apply it and get out in the field. Take a look at all of the opportunities waiting for you, and take your journalism degree and experience to the next level. Think outside the box. You can go beyond the local paper, snippets for a radio station, or behind the scenes in television. Find out how far your degree can take you with five different areas related to journalism.

Write Content
Surf the Internet and you’ll find there are plenty of companies asking for content writers. If you like writing short pieces on anything under the sun, this is your cup of tea. You can set your price, choose your areas of interest, and produce as much as you want. This is a career that can work around a busy lifestyle, family, and other work. When you’re plugging away at the great American novel, you can choose to be a content producer on the side and get a lot of experience out in the writing field of freelance work.

Become a Book Editor
You can combine your love of writing and reading by becoming an editor. Use your journalism degree with a library science degree and you’ll definitely have an edge on the competition. Have a keen eye for what readers want as you assess books and prepare them for publication.

Write Grants
Your journalism skills can be truly rewarding when you assist nonprofit organizations in obtaining grants. You can put your talents to work and know you are promoting a good cause.

Write Technical Manuals
People need instructions for so many products they buy. You can be the person working behind the scenes, creating a manual that is easy to understand. Think of it as a great way to help others when they make a new purchase. There’s nothing more frustrating than inadequate instructions or a lack of good vocabulary. Give people the help they need, making lives easier everywhere.

Write Newsletters
From major corporations to small businesses, many are choosing to use newsletters to keep people informed. You can write for a number of clients, work independently, and choose organizations that excite you. Bring passion to your writing and you will be rewarded.

If you have the gift of gab and can transfer it into writing, you can go the distance with your journalism degree. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet by trying a variety of fields.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

Image by julio.garciah, Flickr

Image by julio.garciah, Flickr

Having to read a novel that you hate for school is practically a rite-of-passage. As unbearable as it is, there is no escaping it. Whether a plotless depiction of a “tortured artist” or a “classic” ridden with superfluous writing, trying to pay attention while reading a bland book is hard. But don’t let it hinder your success: Here are some strategies on how to plow through a boring story and still get a good grade.

Adopt the Right Mindset

Think of it as a job. After all, you’re doing academic work, not reading for pleasure. Although it may be easy to confuse the two when reading material you like, it’s not recommended. We’re often told to read something for school because it is a “benchmark of storytelling” from which we can learn. Obviously that’s not always the case. But who said that you can only learn from reading good books? Reading the dreaded book in question is a great opportunity to learn what you might not want to do when crafting your own works. Analyze and examine any questionable artistic decisions made by the author that resulted in the final product. Think of it as performing an autopsy on a failed piece of art instead a corpse. Trust me; it’ll make reading more bearable.

Be Patient

Sometimes, things grow on you. Try reading at least half of the novel to see if it gets any better. While doing so, jot down page numbers for any relevant passages you come across. That way, in case you do give up on finishing it, you’ll still have cited passages of your own to fall back on. Ideally, the second act of any good story should be filled with exciting tension and conflict: if the middle of the book lacks that criterion, read it in a different manner than you would for leisure. This leads us to another method…


By researching your book, you can get a solid understanding of the its plot and themes that you may not have grasped when trying to slug through it. This approach does take a substantial amount of effort, but it will help your grades. Use websites like Enotes, Sparknotes, and Cliffsnotes to get a good overview of the book’s plot and themes. As helpful as these sources are, they often lack specific passages from books, which are usually required in any novel-based assignment. Take note of every passage mentioned in lecture and the professor’s explanation of its significance. You will have to formulate your own examples on top of this. Search through excerpts of the book to find relevant passages on your own. Use the summaries online and the page numbers from class as cues to where you should narrow your search down. A riskier approach is to aimlessly surf through the book to find any passage you think is significant. Upon finding one, examine it in context to the themes discussed by your professor. After finding enough passages, mix them up with ones already mentioned in class when writing an essay or on an exam.

Critique It

Congratulations – you’ve read the book from start to finish, but you hated every page of it. Feel free to critique it in tutorial. While doing a scathing analysis on an essay or an exam isn’t recommended, doing so in tutorial can garner participation marks. Just make sure you give an intelligent and structured argument with evidence. Bitterly complaining that Jane Eyre “sucks” isn’t going to win over your TA.

For your argument, cite any plot holes, inconsistencies, pacing problems, and weak dialogue as evidence. However, only state your criticisms if they are relevant to the class discussion; otherwise, it’s not worth derailing the tutorial.

All that said, proceed with caution if the novel you’re assigned is a “classic”. Any classical literature is inevitably going to be dated by today’s standards in terms of both form and content. Be wary of criticising it for what it isn’t rather than for what it is. Complaining that the prose in Paradise Lost isn’t in modern English will just make it sound like you walked into the wrong classroom. Although you may not like Homer, Virgil, Dante, or Milton, there is a reason why their works are still read and discussed hundreds of years after they were written. If you are brazen enough and determined to critique it, make sure to only do so in comparison to other works from the same era.

A Note of Caution

Ideally, you should read something for school regardless of its quality or how much it bores you. It is not recommended that you rely strictly on Internet research to complete these assignments. As painful as it may be for you to read Jane Austen, getting a bad final grade hurts even more. Power through it and just keep that final grade in mind every time you want to give up. We’ve all been through it – you can do it too!

Image by Erin Kohlenberg, Flickr

Image by Erin Kohlenberg, Flickr

There’s more to writing a proper English essay than throwing together an introduction, body and conclusion. Here are some tips on how to knock your essays out of the park:

  1. Write the Introduction Last
  2. The first thing to do is figure out what you want to say. Once you have a clear idea and you have supported it with scholarly sources and examples, then start by introducing the topic, what you intend to say about it, and how you are going to explain it to the reader. It is safe to assume he or she has no previous knowledge of the topic.

    This is the lead for the rest of the essay. Make sure it grabs your readers’ attention. Don’t be afraid to use something unconventional or an interesting fact. You want to keep the reader interested enough to continue reading.

    Remember, the thesis statement is the last sentence in the introduction.

  3. Writing a Thesis
  4. The thesis should answer a few questions. How does your essay relate to the topic? Most importantly, what are you arguing? Does it focus on an idea for which you have ample information to write about?

    The thesis is the intention of the paper. What is the point of reading the paper? It should be original and answer the “so what?” question. Given the topic, what are you trying to say and why is it important?

    Remember to include the author, the issues with the text, and your approach in proving your point – i.e. compare and contrast, a methodical or theoretical approach?

  5. Essay Outline
  6. The outline of the essay is an introduction, body paragraphs and your conclusion. Do not follow the five paragraph or “hamburger”-style essay. These formats need to be expanded and more analytical in post-secondary education.

  7. Paragraph Format
  8. You should start your paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the intent of the paragraph. Follow it with your supporting point and the evidence. Each argument often has three points, and each point should have its own paragraph. Each paragraph should contain a conclusion that directly relates to the thesis. Your points must always relate to the thesis, the topic and what you’re proving in the essay.

    Make sure you indent and it is double spaced.

  9. Citation
  10. Spend time making sure you have properly understood the citation. Should you write “bibliography” or “works cited”? Is everything spelled correctly? Properly formatted? Know the difference between writing a quotation and paraphrasing.

    Do you need to include the author, title of the book, year or page number? What form is the professor asking for?

  11. Organization
    • If possible, use multiple screens – it helps you to sort information, and there is a lot that needs to be written and properly structured in the essay.
    • Colour-coordinate – highlight, change the font, and alternate between first and following drafts. This allows you to create your own legend. It keeps track of when you’ve written certain information, and you can pick and choose if you still want to use it or rewrite it.
    • Create its own folder – any information on your computer associated with your essay is in this folder. This is another organization technique that makes it easier to access your work.

  12. What Type of Essay is this?
    • Compare & Contrast
    • Argumentative

    This will help you structure your essay in terms of organization, word choice and even research. After you’ve figured out what you’re going to say, how are you going to say it? It’s safe to say you’re going to argue something or bring an obscure fact to light, but what’s the best way to explain it in five-plus pages?

  13. Take Time to Read Over the Entire Essay
  14. After you’ve written the essay, leave it for a day and come back, so you can read it with fresh eyes. It will be easier to catch mistakes, improper spelling, organization issues, and identify what doesn’t make sense.

  15. Peer Editing
  16. One useful technique is to have someone who hasn’t read your essay, or who has little to no knowledge of the topic, read it out loud to you. While they’re reading it, take notes. How does it sound to you? Is this the way you wanted the writing to come across? Does it make sense?

    Finally, ask them questions. Was it clear and easy to read? Could they understand the point you were trying to make? Most importantly, did they enjoy reading your essay? Bias not included.

Regardless of the type of essay you’re writing:

  • Avoid general statements
  • Refrain from using clichés
  • Present new ideas
  • Use your own words only – or cited otherwise
  • Make sure it relates to course material
  • Save everything, constantly!
  • Keep track of what you’re writing
  • Does it make sense?
  • Do you like it?
  • Have you done what’s required?
  • Ask questions for clarifications

These essay-writing tips should help you get on your way to submitting a thorough, properly structured essay. Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg and let us know if these tips helped you!

Before you start writing, be sure to check out this article on how to avoid getting an “F” on your academic paper.

Are you writing your supplementary essay? These tips might help you too.