In high school you learned to write five-paragraph
essays, book reports, and other short forms of writing.
The five paragraph theme is a rigid (or closed)
It is designed to limit the topic and to give you the
maximum amount of control over the topic
The Structure of College Essays
In college, the five paragraph theme is too confining and limiting for your purpose of persuading your reader to accept your position on a topic, writing a profile of a unique person, or writing a researched essay.
College essay assignments are designed to be open—that is, to give you the space to investigate new ideas and to develop ideas in a deep and extended way.
College Essay Structure
College Essays are thesis-driven and deeply developed.
Readers expect more than the five-paragraph structure.
College essays are characterized by a reader frame
Persuasion (Taking a Position on a Subject and Convincing Your Reader to Agree with That Position) is an Important Purpose for Writing in College
In high school, you write essays to learn about something, and then to demonstrate your knowledge by writing a short informative essay explaining the idea or concept.
In college, you will be asked to take a position on a topic and to use facts and ideas from source material to support that position. The purpose of your essay is to persuade your reader, usually your professor, to agree with your point of view and your stance on a topic.
Research in College Writing
In high school, you may have written a research report.
You may have used your high school library and a general
Internet search to gather information. Then, you wrote a report
intended to inform your reader about the topic.
In college, research reports are almost always position-based
and supported by facts, expert opinions, and logic.
You gather information from a variety of credible, reviewed
college-level sources you find at the college library or college
library webpage access portal. These sources include academic
journal articles, books, and data collected into
specialized databases, and are intended to persuade
your reader to agree with your point of view
You are also expected to give credit to the author of your sources
Credibility of Source Material
Your sources must come from the university library. Your college professors
University sources have been ‘vetted’—reviewed by experts and have been found to be reliable
You want to borrow the credibility and power of expert sources to create and maintain your own credibility as a university scholar
For example, in doing research on the Big Bang Theory, using source material written by Stephen Hawking, for example, would give you instant credibility. We call this approach to research, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” because Hawking is THE expert in this field. He is a ‘giant’ whose vision is vast and wide
You also want to use source material that is powerfully written, to borrow the rhetorical strength of the writer. This borrowing of rhetorical power is the only purpose for using direct quotes in a researched position paper or research project paper
Multiple Formats used in the College Essay
High school essays are often typed according to a style