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Research Papers? You Got This! Part 2

Oct 2, 2013

by Mary Steffenhagen

Last week, I wrote about research techniques and tips that I've found useful for preliminary research for a paper. Now it's time to start writing!

You have sources and a direction in which to head but you won’t go anywhere without a strong thesis. A strong thesis states your idea concisely and directly. It should be very specific but also something that is not beyond argument – your paper will be proving a point and disproving others – so starting off with “I argue” is a good way to state your thesis confidently.

Quotations from your sources, especially your primary source, are the excellent additions to strengthen your arguments. Don’t let them overpower your own voice, though; if you’re quoting every other sentence, back off a bit. You can still include that information if it’s necessary but try paraphrasing it (with attribution, of course) and injecting your own viewpoint. Use quotations to point back to the thesis and, like the thesis, make sure they are strong and not just in there to bump up the word count (although quotes are great for that if you really need it).

Assuming you have the bulk of the paper down, write your conclusion and intro. The intro is incredibly obvious once you have the body of the paper done – after all, your ideas are concise and flow together in a real format. It goes without saying that the intro is crucial: It has to seize and hold your reader’s attention and present your thesis. Your conclusion is equally important and you shouldn’t just summarize what you’ve already said. Think of these sections as your answer to “So what?” Make your reader see why your argument (and all the work you’ve done) is worthwhile.

Next come the dreaded citations. Whether it’s APA, MLA or Turabian, I’ve never known anyone to enjoy citations but they are crucial to correctly attributing your sources. (Remember, inadvertent plagiarism is still plagiarism.) The Purdue Online Writing Lab is an excellent resource when you are unsure of how to cite something and I often use Calvin College’s Knight Cite to format the source information for me.

It should come as no surprise that your next step should be proofread, proofread, proofread. Get a friend to read your paper over, too, as new eyes catch mistakes better than eyes that are used to seeing them.

Lastly, print it off, smell the fresh ink and breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe there’s even time tonight for a few hours of sleep! I hope what I have learned from writing a plethora of research papers will make your process less daunting and more worthwhile.

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Veronica Gonzalez

Jul 8, 2013

by Veronica Gonzalez

My name is Veronica Yvette Gonzalez. I’m 20 years old and I’m entering my third year at the University of the Incarnate Word this fall. At UIW, I major in English. I’m also a committed member and fellow officer of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society at UIW. In ALD, I was vice president from 2012 to 2013; this fall I will be a returning officer but this time as a junior delegate.

The main reason why I chose to attend UIW was because I found it possible to pursue a career in writing there. The English Department offered all kinds of classes and recommendations to help me pursue my dream career. Another reason why I chose UIW was because of its friendliness and hospitality. When I researched the school, it was totally different from other universities: UIW wasn’t going to hook me up with so many classes and tell me “Good luck” – they stepped up and helped me get through the first day of school. They were very helpful and brilliant at answering every question I had.

Majoring in English was an automatic choice: Ever since I was a kid, I read lots of books and I envisioned writing my own books and signing them for my fans. At UIW, I was placed in special classes where the professors were hands-on and gave every student feedback on their essays and stories. Having an advanced start to a writing career in college is heaven! Although I am quite busy with school, I also make time to read, write, draw, paint and brainstorm ideas on what to write about.

When I heard Scholarships.com was calling for virtual interns, I immediately rose to the challenge. As a writer, I know that I shouldn’t be afraid to put my writing to the test. This internship won’t just look good on my resume – it will advance my dream career because I will gain so much experience as a writer!

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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One Opportunity Can Provide Experience in Multiple Fields

Sep 30, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

College means different things to different people. For some, it’s a time to party and enjoy being away from home. For others, it’s a time to study and earn a degree. And for others still, it’s a time to utilize resources for post-college opportunities, like internships and volunteer work. These experiences help students develop skills that can be utilized in their careers of choice. But what if you have multiple majors or are considering work in a variety of fields after graduation? Is there one opportunity that can benefit all your future endeavors? You bet!

Take me, for instance: I am a communication studies major and I hope to go into marketing and public relations. Apart from communication skills, I will need to learn business techniques so I joined a business organization at my school. Good thing I did – I was immediately offered a job with the corporate relations board. Though the position is purely voluntary, I will learn a lot about the various aspects of working in the business world as well as organization and time management skills, presentation techniques and proper etiquette in the professional world.

These skills can definitely be applied to the careers I am interested in but the benefits continue: These skills can be applied to any profession in any field. All employers appreciate an employee who can manage time and work, give efficient presentations and is precise with their work. I encourage you today to get involved today, whether the position is paid, volunteer or for course credit. There is no harm in applying – I applied to be one of Scholarships.com's virtual interns and now I have some writing experience which is useful in every career!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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How to Make It as a Humanities Major at a Tech School

Sep 28, 2011

by Kayla Herrera

Sometimes the location of a college or university can draw you in more than the school itself. This can be said for someone who wants to attend college in a big city or someone who wants more of a college town setting. Me? I wanted to go home again. I went to a technological school in the place where I once moved away from. Even though my major of choice was not technical in nature, I told myself I could make it work.

At my school, the humanities department is not taken care of very well. The curriculum seldom expands and many professors are not quite sure what they are doing. There is a career fair every semester but companies mainly come for engineers, leaving us humanities majors left out and forced to try harder to find jobs and make connections without the school’s assistance.

How did I do it? I focused on extracurricular activities. I searched for internships and small writing jobs on my own or through professors at my school. That is how I scored my first internship and first freelance writing job – just by asking around and putting myself out there. Also, get involved in a club or organization that relates to your career interests. If one is not available, create one; chances are, there are other students who share your goals.

If your field is the minority at your school, you’ve got to stick your neck out there and really make yourself known. Classes at my school are limited so I rely on outside experience to round me out. You cannot be shy: Send your resume around even if positions haven’t been advertised and contact potential employers to introduce yourself. Putting forth that extra effort will only get you that much more ahead outside the classroom.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Should You Write an Honors Thesis?

Sep 23, 2011

by Jacquelene Bennett

To write an honors thesis or to not write an honors thesis? That is the question. If you are a senior in college, you know the dilemma that I am talking about.

At the beginning of their last year as undergrads, college seniors are presented with the option of doing an honors thesis - typically a 25- to 30-page research paper or paper that concentrates on a single subject within your declared major; you must not only demonstrate what you have learned while attending school but you will have to defend your work to a committee. Being a senior in college comes with a lot of stress and pressure – finding a job, filling out grad school applications, and completing capstone projects and papers are just a few of the things on a college senior’s to-do list – so why would anyone think of taking on another anxiety-filled task?

The pros of undertaking this type of project is that you will not only have a substantial piece of writing to present to grad schools and future employers but the work you’ve done will be reflected on your university diploma and resume. The cons of this project are the massive amount of work and time you have to devote to it. Honors thesis requirements differ from school to school but you’d be hard pressed to find a college where the experience is an easy one.

So is writing an honors thesis right for you? Well, that is a decision that you (and your advisor) have to make. After much debate, I found I do not have the time or enthusiasm to write an honors thesis...but if you do, good luck!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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To Wiki or Not to Wiki?

Citing the Right Sources in Your College Papers

Sep 21, 2011

by Kara Coleman

Five years after Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia, more than one million articles have been contributed to the free-for-all Internet encyclopedia. The open editing format allows for an unlimited amount of information to be shared all over the world but unfortunately, some teachers don’t consider Wikipedia to be a credible source...or they simply want their students to do a little more searching for information. Here’s how to make more informed choices when searching for works to cite.

When you Google your topic, don’t just click on the first link that pops up. Check out the site’s address before you visit. Remember, ANYONE can post ANYTHING on the Internet: An English professor at my community college was known to occasionally log on to Wikipedia and edit articles, just to see if her students were using the site.

College and university websites are reputable. If MIT posts an article about its latest technological breakthrough, take that information and use it. The same holds true for sites belonging to trade journals. A writer for an aviation magazine is talking directly with people who design, build, work on and fly airplanes in order to write articles for other people who design, build, work on and fly airplanes. Their information has to be accurate.

It’s also acceptable to cite articles from credible news sources like CNN or The Wall Street Journal. These are publications everyone is familiar with and they have years of coverage to show for it. The bad apples are few and far between.

Something to keep in mind when doing online research is that if something is true, it’s probably going to be on more than one site. If you come across conflicting pieces of information, be sure to check a number of other sources. And you don’t have to ignore Wikipedia completely: The bibliographies at the end of each article can provide some valuable links!

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Blogging Bridges the Digital Divide

Jul 25, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

Teaching students how to write (and write well) has long been a challenge for educators. Sure, there are always those students with a knack for style and syntax but how can teachers get less-proficient or ESL students excited about writing and bridge the digital divide at the same time? Through blogging.

Jon Schwartz, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher from Oceanside, Calif., found that more than 60 percent of his students “came from households where English was the second language, or wasn’t spoken at all." To increase their interest in writing, Schwartz forewent the traditional pencil-to-paper route and introduced his students to blogging. After teaching them the basics, Schwartz required each student to submit a 90- to 100-word writing assignment each day. They had the option to turn in their assignments via the blog or on paper but after hearing how much some of Schwartz’s former students enjoyed blogging, almost all of them opted for the digital method.

From there, Schwartz said "creativity and productivity skyrocketed because they knew that their work had the potential to be viewed quickly by an authentic audience that mattered to them." In addition to the new-found enthusiasm about writing – Schwartz’s students continue to blog on their own time even when no assignment is required and utilize the Internet for research – the project has helped to bridge the digital divide. "If they aren’t trained to use the computer as a tool for learning, work, and personal growth, they’ll not be able to compete in high school, college, and job markets."

What do you think of Schwartz’s experiment? Would a program like this one get you more interested in writing in and out of the classroom?

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Your Passion Has a Place in College

Jul 12, 2011

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Have you ever started an essay or research project and found you absolutely hate the topic you chose? I know I have so that’s why when I started college, I vowed I would choose personally relevant topics whenever possible to make my college assignments more enjoyable.

In my logic and rhetoric class, for example, I had to choose an issue I could argue about from multiple perspectives. Because I'm a passionate video gamer, I ended up choosing to debate the pros and cons of gameplay. We've all heard about the effects of gameplay on violent behavior, weight gain and myriad other social problems; while it's true some of these concerns aren't entirely unwarranted, I wanted to show how the media and other sources play a large role in exaggerating the negative effects.

My point here is that because I am passionate about video games, I can argue much more persuasively than I would if I was writing about a topic which I have no interest in. While my topic may not be meaningful to everyone in my class, I am confident my classmates will at least appreciate the combination of factual information and personal insight I bring to the table on the subject. After all, a persuasive essay isn’t really a persuasive essay if the author doesn’t believe his or her own words.

Of course, choosing a topic you like isn't always possible – if you hate learning about history in general, odds are you won't find many topics to your liking – so in these situations, just be thankful you don't have to marry the topic you settle for. You're sure to find plenty of topics personally relevant to you later on in your college career.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Attention Ayn Rand Fans: This Scholarship of the Week is for YOU!

The Fountainhead Essay Contest to Grant 236 Scholarships

Apr 11, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

There’s nothing I enjoy more than curling up with a good book...unless doing so could be worth $10,000. Too bad I’m long graduated because I’d be applying for this Scholarship of the Week in a second!

The Fountainhead Essay Contest, offered by the Ayn Rand Institute, is open to high school juniors and seniors with a love of literature and flair for writing. Each applicant is required to read Rand’s novel of the same name then craft an essay of 800 to 1,600 words in response to one of three prompts. There will be 236 college scholarships distributed – one $10,000 first-prize award, five $2,000 second-prize awards, 10 $1,000 third-prize awards, 45 $100 finalist awards and 175 $50 semifinalist awards – to essay writers demonstrating an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.

All materials must be submitted by April 26th (just over two weeks from today) so if you are interested in this scholarship opportunity, you still have plenty of time to apply. For more information on this and other scholarship awards, conduct a free scholarship search on our site today!

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Deadline Approaching for Scholarship of the Week

Aug 23, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

With most fall semesters just beginning or yet to begin, now may be the perfect time to spend some time applying for scholarships that may require a bit more effort on your part. If you’re a stellar writer, spending some of your extra time on an essay scholarship may lead to a decent prize to help cover some of those college costs. This week’s Scholarship of the Week asks applicants to reflect on topics based on the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged. If you’ve already read the book, the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest may be a no-brainer for you. If you haven’t read it yet but have impressive speed-reading skills, you may still have enough time to submit an essay before the deadline.

This isn’t an award you can just recycle a previous essay for, unless you have the good luck of having studied the novel in your high school literature class. There are essay and writing scholarships out there though that have more general topics for you to reflect and compose narratives on. Make sure to keep copies of every essay you write, whether it’s for a scholarship or college application. Those personal statements and reflective essays may come in handy when you’re applying for internships, grants, fellowships, or future scholarships.

Prize:

  • 1 First Prize of $10,000
  • 2 Second Prizes of $2,000
  • 5 Third Prizes of $1,000
  • 20 Finalist Prizes of $100
  • 20 Semifinalist Prizes of $50

Eligibility:

Applicants must be high school seniors, college undergraduates, or graduate students.

Deadline:

September 17, 2010

Required Material:

Applicants are asked to write an essay of no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words on one of three topics provided on the Ayn Rand Institute’s website. Essays will be judged on both style and content, including a writer’s grasp of the novel Atlas Shrugged, and may be mailed in or submitted online. Mailed essays should include a stapled cover sheet. The winning essay will be posted online, so applicants must be comfortable having their names posted on the Ayn Rand Institute’s site.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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