College Writing Upgrade: How to Stop Writing

A Five-Paragraph Essay

College writing differs from high school assignments students get. It might seem easy to adapt to new requirements, but sometimes it takes a lot of time.

Studying in school, students were learning to write five-paragraph essays, and were doing so for at least two years. They adhered to a strong habit that is expected to be eliminated in college.

Have you ever tried to change some habit you have? Have you tried to go to bed earlier if you are a night person? Or have you tried to use your head instead of a calculator for the easiest problems? If we have enough motivation and self-control, everything is possible if there is time. In college, students should change their habits fast, as it impacts their performance and grades significantly.

Thus, in this article, we’d like to show you how high school and college writing differ, and suggest solutions for a faster and smoother transition.

Why Do High Schools Prefer a Five-Paragraph Essay?

A five-paragraph essay is a common writing assignment in plenty of high schools. Why is it so popular? It is well structured and easy to evaluate.

The five-paragraph essay starts with the general information that is followed with arguments and facts, and then ends with general conclusions again. Often, it includes three points each of which is discussed in one paragraph. It has an easy pace to follow and a plain form. Students can express their thoughts using a simple frame and teachers can evaluate their knowledge based on the simple requirements.

Though, it sounds a little bit boring and  limited, writing a five-paragraph essay students learn to write academic papers. The high school version is easier, but it still fulfills the main purpose — to allow students to express their thoughts in an organized way, to talk consistently and logically, to state an idea and prove it with evidence.

However, this type of essay writing shouldn’t stay with you forever. It is like a baby walker. As soon as a baby learns to walk independently, she doesn’t need support anymore.

Why Don’t Colleges Tolerate Five-Paragraph Essays?

While high school students dream about their college life, the reality often surprises them. Not only requirements to your grammar, logic, and structure of the essay will change, but also the requirements to your way of thinking.

Here, in college, they know you know a lot as you got picked to join their students. They know you are good at remembering dates and facts. What they don’t know is how you feel about the historical events, what you think about the greatest personalities, if you can relate, if you can compare and draw proper conclusions.

In college, they want to see how you think. Thus, the main questions here are not “what?”, “when?’” or “where?”, but “why?”. It is about your perspective, and how you approach and evaluate facts. This is the major reason why your mastership in writing a five-paragraph essay is not a superpower anymore. And the other reasons are:

1. Strong but irrelevant framework

The structure of the five-paragraph essay teaches students to start from the general. It is a good way to start your narration in high school. It is a skill that will be helpful in future, too. But colleges expect you to be more specific and straightforward. They want you to not waste your time on well-known facts or ideas. They need to listen to your voice.

If in high school a student can start their story by using “there always will be wars for lands” or “history doesn’t know what “if only” means”, in college it would be taken as a way to write more words to fill up the page. Here, you should start with your point, with an idea that you got when you were analyzing a specific fact. You should be honest and open-minded. A subterfuge is the worst advisor in college ever.

2. No attention-grabbing argument

The five-paragraph essay is purposed to state an idea and prove it. There is no place for other interpretations, points of views, approaches. There is only one point of view that a student needs to defend.

Colleges don’t practice that. They are looking for contreoversions, for passionate arguments, as this kind of discussions help to understand why something has happened better. Also, it teaches us to respect the opposite point of view and find counterarguments.

3. Repetition

The five-paragraph essays are built the way the writer tends to repeat what was already said again and again. The thought can be expressed in the introduction, then repeated in the main part, and then occurred in the conclusion. This is a kind of a not very good essay that you would get if you decide not to buy essay from an essay writing service but ask a random freelancer to do it.

However, with this kind of narration you won’t find the truth. And this is what college is all about.

4. No “flow”

A high school essay writing teaches students to be logical, confident, to sound informed and unwavering. Sure, many high school students desperately need these skills and it is a great way to learn it.

Still, this goal is resulting in the way they should write their essays. The papers often don’t have a flow. They are constructed from separate sentences with separate ideas.

For college, it is not an option. It doesn’t develop independent thinking, analyzing and ability to argue calmly and be reasonable. You get nowhere without those skills.

5. No conclusions

It is related to the repetitions. There are no actual conclusions in the five-paragraph essay. There are summaries. The students don’t conclude, they shorten everything they have said and repeat it again.

On the contrary, college is thirsty for unpredictable conclusions, and fresh interpretations.

6. Futility

In the real world, the five-paragraph essay is useless. You’ll never read in the magazine or newspaper, you’ll never hear it in the courts or government sessions. It is too simple and couldn’t be applied to the real world.

This is the beauty of college. In a perfect world, it has to prepare students for real life challenges. It should give them tools to solve any issues they will experience. And an ability to prove their point and persuade others in a polite yet persistent manner costs a million nowadays.

7. There is a plan you have to follow

Though, it is a great thing, sometimes it ruins everything. Often, students are so obsessed with following the rules, so they forget the main idea of all the writing. So, trying to fit into requirements, they lose dozens of their worthy thoughts and fill the essay with trite and general opinions.

There should be a plan to follow. But it will always lead you to the same place. Why not try a backdoor once, right?

How Do I Change My Habit and Stop Writing Five-Paragraph Essays?

You’ll need time to learn writing in a new way, but you’ll definitely be able to do it following these tips:

1. Define your point.

Before starting to write a usual introduction for a five-paragraph essay, take a moment, and think, what you are going to write about. Do not go with your usual routine. Choose which aspect of the issue interests you the most and discuss it.

Show your knowledge, share your attitude and prognoses. Present one aspect from different angles, not many aspects in general.

2. Argue.

Find an idea that provokes arguments. Catch a loophole. Write about the things that weren’t explored well before. Choose unresolved problems. Offer the solution as you see it.

Describing well-known facts is in the past. Now, it is time to find strong arguments and solid evidence to prove your point.

3. Focus on the content.

Do not allow the structure to change your thoughts and decide to not express them. Concentrate on the content. Now, you can write three or ten paragraphs, write a conclusion or live an open end that will provoke further discussion.

Your vision and suggestions matter. Let them impact the structure if needed.

If essay writing in high school should have taught you how to be consistent and confident in what you’re saying, college writing aims to teach you to look for the untrite solutions, be able to defend your point with strong arguments, and think out-of-the-box. Both skills are significant for students’ future development, both have to be learned.

Open up to this new life you are entering and track your progress. It is truly exciting!

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