Writing academic essays to prepare for your job is like trying to learn how to be a master carpenter by only reading IKEA furniture manuals. The main struggle students have when they graduate is that most companies prioritize hiring people with experience.
Oh, wait. Never mind. These are the reasons why:. I learned half-way through my career that the best way to grade essays was during one-on-one conferences with students. I would call them individually to my desk and evaluate the essay there. While time-consuming, it allowed them to understand the strengths and weaknesses in real time. Feedback is essential. It helps us tweak our strategies and grow. It allows us to be better than before.
Unfortunately, I discovered the highpoint of absurdity in academic grading during my graduate English program. Months of work and research would often result in a small paragraph of feedback that was pedestrian at best. Many of us showed up ready to grow and learn, but alas, not even full-blown academics enjoyed the process. The effects of this are detrimental. Students repeat mistakes. They grow frustrated. Ultimately, they end up not only hating essay writing but writing in general.
Essay cheating is on the rise. The absurdity of students paying to take classes while also paying people to do their homework is ironic. Ironic and kind of terrifying. People enjoy talking to others. School is a mostly social experience. And yet, academic essay writing shuts down the dialogue. We rush to finish assignments instead of taking the time to learn and explore. You see this when you watch people grow up through school and graduate college as pretty much the same person when they arrived. If academic essays were effective, then they would lead us to keep an open mind while exploring new ideas.
They would teach us to embrace change.
Instead, the entire format has been contorted into an immovable stencil of faux-learning that closes minds. Sign in. Get started. Academic Essays Are Worthless.
Viktor James Follow. Education College Careers Writing Teaching. Former high school English teacher. Noteworthy - The Journal Blog Follow. The Official Journal Blog. See responses In fact, why do I even have to study it? These formulaic essays are meaningless and unless someone has a genuine interest in the subject, the content is easily forgotten or not even understood by the author himself how embarrassing. Is there no use for them at all, or have we just got it wrong? Instead it should ask a question, answer it, and search to find a truth of some sort.
It should promote new information, original ideas, and should not be so particularly structured. I would personally find this difficult to uphold as I have a very specific structure and formula to my essay writing — exactly what Paul Graham says I should not do. I must have an introductory paragraph, a paragraph for defining technical terms, then I make bullet points for each section following on from this so I know what to say and that my structure is logical and flows.
Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas. Signs of Trouble. A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" also labeled "summary" or "description".
Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own.
Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words "first," "next," "after," "then" or "listing" words "also," "another," "in addition". Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing.
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It wasn't until later on that year when I started focusing more on alternatives to academic essay writing that I started seeing greater success with. The purpose of an essay - all essays - is to demonstrate that you can write an essay. I had no idea he felt like his presence on this earth was meaningless.
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Skip to main content. Main Menu Utility Menu Search. Mapping an Essay Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. Try making your map like this: State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.