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Mic P.
Regional Trainer at LUSH Cosmetics and tutor for two years
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Writing
TutorMe
Question:

What's the deal with the Oxford comma? Should I use it? Why does anyone care?

Mic P.
Answer:

The Oxford comma was trending on Twitter a few months back. That's something I never imagined I would see! The Oxford comma (aka serial comma) is the last comma in a sequence of three or more things. For example: "I would like to thank my parents, Lady Gaga, and god." The Oxford comma is the one after "Lady Gaga." This a good example of a sentence that probably needs an Oxford comma. Without it, the sentence reads: "I would like to thank my parents, Lady Gaga and god." Because there's no Oxford comma, this sentence now seems to say that this person's parents are Lady Gaga and god, which we can pretty fairly guess is not what this person meant to say. At the end of the day, though, the Oxford comma is a stylistic decision. Generally, the Oxford comma is popular in the United States and in magazines and books. The Oxford comma is usually left out in newspapers and in the UK (though there are exceptions to each of these rules). See? It's complicated and there's no "right" answer. If you're writing in a style that necessitates the Oxford comma (Chicago, for example), use it. If you need it for clarity or just like it, use it! Otherwise, just make sure your writing is clear.

Literature
TutorMe
Question:

Write one paragraph briefly analyzing the following poem excerpt. Your answer should include reference to at least three of the following list of terms: assonance, onomatopoeia, alliteration, simile, metaphor, personification, figurative language, rhyme scheme, theme, mood, tone, meter, rhythm, rhyme, and refrain. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock b. T.S. Eliot Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless night in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question...

Mic P.
Answer:

T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is a driving and affecting masterwork in which even the first stanza makes effective use of assonance and simile, as well as various other types of figurative language. The poem begins with a striking simile ("the evening is spread out...like a patient etherised") that helps to create the stark mood of the poem. Assonance and alliteration are both widely present throughout "Prufrock", but one of the most memorable instances of assonance ("insidious intent") momentarily slows the pace and makes the moment linger in a way reminiscent of frightened glances down dark alleys in a bad part of town. This is one of my favorite poems of all time, partially because the sophisticated use of figurative language makes the poem so sleekly beautiful to read or hear.

College Admissions
TutorMe
Question:

I am a junior and I am already nervous about college. How do I decide where to go?

Mic P.
Answer:

Deciding where to continue your education is an exciting and important choice. Don't worry if you're feeling stressed. That's completely normal. Deciding where to go to college almost feels, sometimes, like deciding who you are. Let me be clear: it's not that. There are three criteria that are hugely helpful in narrowing your college search: distance from home, majors of interest and climate. Don't worry about pricing right now. We'll figure that out later. Right now we're focusing on a best-case scenario outcome: your dream school. First, think about how far away from your hometown you'd like to be. I find it helpful to think about this in hours of travel ("about two hours away by plane" or "thirty minutes to an hour away by car"). This is a deeply personal question. It's okay to admit if you don't know or if it's not particularly important to you. But if you can decide upon an approximate distance from home, it's possible to very quickly narrow your college search! Second, think about what you like about your life. Make a list. Is there a class that you, at least sometimes, look forward to? Do you enjoy gaming? Running? Cooking? Reading? After you've got a good list, connect each one to a possible major. For example, someone who loves to play Fallout or Halo might enjoy majoring in Computer Science, Programming or, you know, Game Design. Google plaintive questions if you get stumped ("What are good college majors for people who love cartoons?"). Third, think about what you like (or don't!) about your climate and environment. Make a list. Which season is your favorite? Which is worse: to be too cold or to be too hot? Do you like spending time outside? Do you love the beach? Do you have any important hobbies that are dependent upon climate? Will you be driving at college or walking/utilizing public transportation? Last, rate these three criteria in importance to you (1 through 3). If majors of interest is most important, look up colleges and universities with highly rated programs. Consider college and surrounding area resources (perhaps a theater major should consider programs in New York or LA). Make a Top 10 list of colleges that look interesting to you and research their websites or reach out to their admission office. If climate is most important because you hate hot, humid weather, you're able to excise about 40% of the country. If you love the ocean, focus on the coasts. Love skiing? Begin looking around The Rocky Mountains! The perfect school might be hiding in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains or in a small town on the Oregon coast. Researching based on climate and geography is a fun way to find hidden gem colleges. If you can apply 2-3 of these criteria to your college search, it's possible to quickly and easily narrow your search. Give yourself a few weeks to research and google. Take notes or start an Excel document to keep track of all the details. Visit websites, request brochures,consult all the college rankings (but take them with a grain of salt). These are just the first steps, but they'll help you narrow your options and decrease your stress!

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