What are some ways to improve my writing?
Great question! Writing is an art, but it's also like a muscle. It needs to be worked and maintained in order to stay in good shape. A couple of ways to improve writing is to read. Read as much and as often as possible; however, you shouldn't force yourself to read things you aren't interested in. Try to find something you like, start with that. Another way that you can improve your writing is by keeping a small journal that lists your ideas and things you want to work on. For example, some writers keep a bullet journal or a dream journal on them that they use when they need inspiration. Lastly, try and read over some basic grammar tips. We all forget the basic rules sometimes, so it's important to try and keep up with them. Look on OWL Purdue for updates in different areas.
I have to write a college essay, but I don't know what they are looking for. What should I do?
As an undergraduate student, I worked with the office of admissions and spoke with admissions counselors about what they expect from students. Many colleges provide you with some sort of prompt and a word count when asking you to submit an essay, so the best place to begin is there. A college admissions essay should highlight why that particular college/university is the best fit for you. Questions to ask yourself are: what do we have in common? What are the goals of the university, and are these goals similar to mine? Is there a particular program that best fits what I want to do? Ensure that you have a focus that you can talk about, and give specific examples of how this focus is relevant to the school to which you are applying. Be creative, but don't lie! Admissions counselors will find out, and you will look silly. Lastly, have someone read over your essay to avoid errors.
What are some ways that I can improve my reading comprehension when reading through longer pieces of literature or dense articles?
Reading can sometimes be a chore, but it's up to us to make it fun and engaging! Students should utilize a strategy called active reading in which they take notes and ask questions as they read through their material. The following is an examples of active reading: The SQ3R Method: SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review. This method allows for students to read through material and to take notes, and provides a study guide. Survey: When surveying a reading, look at the chapter title, subsections, the abstract (if available), the questions (if any), and any other piece of information before reading in order to get a grasp on the basic concept of the material. Question: Before reading, write down some questions that you may have about the piece in order to focus your attention. Read: While reading, take notes and try to answer the questions you created. Recall: When you're finished reading and taking notes, put your things aside and try to remember everything you went over. Test yourself, and see what you know. Review: Don't just look at your notes once and toss them aside, look at them as many times as you can to ensure maximum retention!