“Tips for Top-Notch Writing” by Nadya Ellerhorst

I am not good at many things. However, I am okay at a handful of things.

I can reach books off of high shelves. I can recommend a movie for you to watch based on your preferred genre. Set a plate of food in front of me, and *poof*—I can make it disappear before your very eyes.

If there’s one thing I’m particularly okay at, it’s writing. Sometimes I like to believe otherwise, but if the opposite were true, I think Hayley and Abhigna would have kindly kicked me off 186 South College by now.

Disclaimer: I am not an English major or a Writing Fellow, and I do not, nor do I pretend to, know all the in’s and out’s of the complex galaxy that is the English language. However, over the years, I’ve made enough vocabulary, grammar, and spelling errors to provide me with some insight that I hope can assist you. With a little practice, patience, and dedication, anyone can become a skilled writer.

Hence, I am pleased to present some tips and tricks for reaching your full writing potential, because if your professors, Purdue OWL, or pure reason can’t sway you, maybe this freshman can.

1. Proofread your paper before asking others to read it 

I cannot — let me pause here to let that sink in — stand it when I’m asked to proofread something littered with tiny mistakes. You may not think they’re a big deal. After all, what are your professors who have spent years getting graduate degrees for other than correcting your goofy spelling errors (the red squiggly lines are not just your imagination, friends) and reminding you for the umpteenth time that “The period goes inside the quotation marks.”

In case you’ve forgotten, a gentle reminder that you’re human. All of us are prone to making an occasional error in our work, and it takes a while to get the hang of the myriad of spelling and grammar rules out there. You can’t spell revision without vision, so look over your work at least once after writing it.

2. Write something you enjoy reading

If you don’t like how it sounds, chances are we won’t like it either. If you start zoning out while reading, either you need to fine-tune your writing to make it more engaging, or that sentence is too long. It’s really just a matter of trusting your gut as to what sounds pleasing to that little voice in your head that vocalizes what you’re reading.

3. Check citations

Yes, not everyone is going to read them, and yes, they are a pain in the neck to compile. However, sloppy, ill-formatted citations, both on a Works Cited page and in the text itself, are an eyesore, especially if you get a citation nut like me looking over your work.

There are plenty of digital resources out there to help you figure out what to cite and how to cite it. Remember your ancestors who did not have Purdue OWL!

4. Become good friends with a thesaurus

There exists a multitude of words beyond “good,” “great,” and “interesting.” Do these words get the job done? Sure. Is reading “excellent” 15 times in the span of the same paragraph enjoyable? No.

You don’t need an actual thesaurus. Simply Googling synonyms for a given word will yield a vast array of websites and suggestions for different terms to spice up your work. Continue reading

“Endeavors of a New DoorDasher” by Rachel Gray

With the elongated winter break, I took up a new hobby. For quite some time now, I’ve wanted a new car. There’s nothing wrong with Sasha, my 1995 Chevrolet, black Corsica, but technically, she’s not mine. The car is under my sister’s name, and I just pay her the car insurance. Now, though, I think it’s time to start looking for something new to help me save up.

I started looking at DoorDash when the pandemic began way back when. I had heard by word of mouth that it pays superbly well, and that people love the job. Once my parents pulled me from working at the retirement home in March, I didn’t have a job for a while. Though I was looking for other opportunities, it was a challenge to find suitable jobs for a minor since I was only 17 at the time. When I researched DoorDash, I saw that it, too, didn’t allow underaged workers. With that, I set it to the back burner for the time being.  Continue reading

“Language Learning and Overcoming Burnout” by Clara Kinken

Like most college students with schedules dominated by numerous courses and weekly meetings, I’m not immune to occasional bouts of burnout. In fact, after taking two winter session courses in January, academic fatigue arrived just in time for the beginning of my spring semester classes. 

Dealing with academic burnout is difficult for a number of reasons, but there are some tricks from language learning that, in my experience, help train your brain to overcome the challenge and persevere. 

Anyone who voluntarily studies foreign languages can tell you that it’s not all smooth sailing through new vocabulary and advancing grammar constructions. There’s an added motivation factor that comes with practicing your target language outside of class, in addition to your homework assignments, and over lengthy school breaks. 

A lack of motivation to practice my languages was never a problem for me when the excitement of first learning was fresh or when I was in immersive environments where the language itself was inescapable. However, when the honeymoon phase is over and studying, reviewing, and memorization become daily requirements, that continuous linguistic curiosity starts to diminish. 

I often experience this during school breaks when lacking the structure my classes provide each semester starts to take a toll on my ability to schedule a balance between three different languages each day. I’ll start with blocking off specific times for each, and then over the course of a few weeks, it is a rarity if I get to all of them in a day.  Continue reading

“Your Life is Your Choice” by Shrinidhi Dandibhotla

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they question why they started what they did in the first place. Why did I choose to do this? What was I thinking?

As a first-year Honors student, I know how stressful and intimidating it can be to start this new chapter of your life during a global pandemic. While the world is fighting to keep people alive, you are fighting your own battles with virtual education and extracurriculars. And trust me, I know it’s not easy no matter what anyone else tells you. 

Honors students tend to be high achievers, setting high, possibly even unrealistic, goals for themselves. And while staying so focused on getting to the finish line, it’s easy to forget where the race even began. They begin to blindly run towards an unclear destination. And I don’t want to sit here and tell you that the journey to achieve your goals is easy and to just stay focused on your target, because if I did, I would be lying. The path of life is far from easy–but it’s not impossible.  Continue reading

“Winter Recollections and Springing Forward” by Abigail McGraw

Picture this: you’re sitting in your ENGL 110 class listening to Mr. Peters explain Flat Earth conspiracy theories when your eyes catch sight of a white speck through the window. And then you realize–SNOW!! IT SNOWS IN DELAWARE!!

This may seem a bit dramatic, but I have seen more snow in the first two weeks on campus than I’ve seen in the last two years in Virginia Beach. I’ve always loved the snow and have always been deprived of it. Hallmark movies have been taunting me with the thought of snow on Christmas while it was warm enough to go swimming at the beach during the holidays. I love everything about snow; the way it falls so softly and makes the world go quiet; the way it reflects the streetlights and makes the cloudy skies glow with warm orange light; and most of all, I love the sound it makes when it crunches under my feet. Continue reading

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