How to Write a Better Essay: Tips from a #CougaMBAssador

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WSU Online MBA student, Cathryn Curry Hasz, smiles at graduation

In psychology, there is a condition called False Consensus effect, or consensus bias, where individuals feel that their own personal choices and judgements are relatively common to everyone in a society.

This means that I feel like if you are reading this, you adore Peanut Butter M&Ms, think it’s super normal to have too many cats, hate cauliflower and LOVE writing papers.

I lost you at the papers part, huh?

That is normally where it happens.

Although some people, like myself, love writing and have a passion for articulating, arguing or reinforcing an opinion via the written word, it isn’t a favorite pastime for everyone.

So, what can you do to make writing papers less painless? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Plan ahead. Despite what my husband thinks, procrastination truly does not work for everyone. Review the essay requirements early on and begin to brainstorm how you might form your argument. (Note: In the workplace, there is an argument for waiting to begin an assignment as the requirements may change, causing you to rework. But in the school sense, the assignments are typically well-defined early on.)
  2. Outline. Begin forming an outline of the structure of the paper. You can also utilize the “Styles” feature in Microsoft Word to auto-generate a table of contents and really ‘wow’ your professors.
  3. Cite as you go! Have you ever written a glorious paper, crossed all Ts, and dotted all i’s only to realize that you don’t remember where you found some of the data you are quoting? I have. It’s the worst. After you’ve stopped weeping softly into your keyboard and scoured the internet to locate it again, you’ll never make that mistake again.
  4. Be a Team Player. Working with teams is a challenge. Sometimes it is a positive one, other times it is a test in patience. If you are assigned to a team, or have vetted the individuals for your capstone project, be a team player. Make sure assignments are in place as early as possible, meet your timelines or communicate when you realize you’ll be unable to, and definitely cite as you go.

Well, there you have it. Whether you are writing a presentation to your boss, an essay for school, co-authoring the next great American novel or drafting a well-thought-out Tweet, you now have four suggestions on how to create a high quality deliverable that you will be proud of.

By #CougaMBAssador Cathryn Curry Hasz