The Dreaded Group Project

Written By Writing Assistant and Student Director (Spring 2019), Irene Gerrish 

A common complaint I hear from fellow students, colleagues, and even myself, is that our classes don’t teach us how to do things that are really, really crucial to survival in adulthood. Filing taxes, understanding how mortgages work, and being financially responsible all play integral roles in our adult lives; but understanding each of these is absent from much of our educational experiences. Instead, we learn and memorize rules and proofs in geometry, specific steps of biology lab reports, and the most efficient ways to cram for exams overnight.

    Something required in many college seminars, however, that proves to be very useful into adulthood, is the completion of a group paper. Now, I know what you’re thinking—“How can group papers be of any use to me in the future? They’re miserable, unnecessarily stressful, and I’m more comfortable writing one on my own.” Many of us at the Klooster Center understand and agree with you (we really do). But the challenges implicit in constructing a successful group paper mimic those familiar to those in a collaborative work environment. In any mix of students or coworkers, you’re sure to face stark differences in writing strategies and preferences, research methods, and abilities. For this reason, group papers can certainly be one of the harder college assignments, but certainly, one of the more informative ones. Here are a couple of tips to keep you and your peers on track as you navigate the murky waters of group work.

  1. Delegate, delegate, delegate. While it’s tempting to want to take on either all of the work or leave it to be completed by the group’s most competent writers, you are all receiving grades for the same assignment. If your tendency is to try and take on all of the work, divide up the portions of the project and ask your group members which sections they’d be most comfortable with. If your tendency is to let others initiate, make your group members aware of your willingness to tackle things that need to be done. Please know that many professors require peer evaluations to be completed by each group member, and your performance, good and bad, will be noticed by your colleagues!
  2. Be smart about task division. Choosing how to divide up tasks can be difficult. Try to rely on the strengths of your group members; strong writers might be more comfortable with editing the final product, whereas strong researchers might appreciate collecting information instead. If you each choose to write sections of the paper, try to have someone look over the rough draft so the voice of your project is (relatively) consistent throughout, which brings me to my next point.
  3. Come to the Klooster Center! We are more than willing to assist you with your group papers. All members of the group project are welcome during any one appointment, and we have chocolate!
  4. If all else fails, communicate with your professor. If the working dynamics of your group are frustrating and/or fostering a negative environment, let your professors know. They are aware that conflict is a natural part of forcing students to collaborate, and are also equipped help you resolve any rising tensions.

Ultimately, group papers can be a positive collaborative learning opportunity—if everyone is willing to make it work. Overcoming differences and striving towards a common goal are situations we will continually be in throughout our professional, academic, and personal lives, and group papers can be wonderful introductions to this process. Best of luck, and write on!

Mountaintop Reading and Writing

Written by Writing Assistant and Fellow, Will Lake

Last semester I had the pleasure of living and learning in the beautiful state of Oregon. Through a program sponsored in part by Hope, The Oregon Extension, I was able to travel to a secluded mountain top ex-logging town where we lived in cabins, turned in our phones, and read. The goal of the program is to “get out of the mainstream” but, in doing so, you accomplish so much more. We were offered chickens, goats, wood-burning stoves for heat, and a community of professors and students for intimate learning. The program offered seclusion, to be sure; we lived about an hour from civilization, on top of a mountain, in the middle of federally protected wilderness. On account of the seclusion, we lived distraction-free. Without phones, WiFi, or electronics, we looked around and saw nothing but mountains, trees, and books. Books, books, and more books.

    On average, we probably read between about 600-800 pages of text every week (when we weren’t out backpacking or on a trip). Over a 16 week period, this adds up. I was ashamed to say that, before going out to Oregon as a senior in college, I had almost never picked up, started, and finished a book, cover-to-cover, in my entire life. Why would I? I mean, with Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix, my free-time schedule is pretty booked up. My academic schedule (professors: cover your ears) is about getting things done. When it comes to reading, there comes a difference between “reading” an assigned book, and “ reading the first chapter, skimming, then looking at summaries, then reading the last chapter a month later before the test”. I must say, I am ashamed, looking back, of my poor reading history. It wasn’t till Oregon, when I had nothing else to do but read, that I discovered the joys, benefits, and realities of reading.

    Reading is like working out – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The more you read, the faster you read, the more you comprehend, the less it strains you. If this analogy holds, in Oregon, I became an Olympian, of sorts. The other thing about reading whole books, versus summaries, quick articles, etc, is that you begin to feel an intimacy with the book – a kinship. It is said that there exists a spiritual relation between human and dog; the same can be said about human and book. They become your friends, whom you understand on a deeper level. You have seen all their inner workings and mysteries. You have toiled over them, you have laughed with them, cried on their pages. And then, when you’re finished with them, they stand proudly upon your shelf, perhaps for years, waiting for that sweet, precious moment when you return to them to reminisce, and to have a chat with your long-lost friend. Other than being your friend, there is one indirect consequence of reading: your writing drastically improves. When I arrived in Oregon, I could write. By the time I left Oregon, 12,000 pages later, I thought in quotes. I wrote in terms of language, style, and ideas that I had collected from thousands of pages of text. It happened sub-consciously, but the effects were more than evident. I realized that my whole life was connecting to what was going on in the texts, and I was able to process it far better in terms of text then I ever have been before. I was writing effortlessly, with my gears lubed; I had fresh ideas constantly on my mind and thousands of examples of argumentation, proper structure, and fascinating style. I spent hundreds of hours in the intellectual gym, and it had paid off. My writing biceps were bigger than ever before.

    Now I am home, and I write now and then, and I read less and less. I edit and write papers, and yet, I feel my biceps thinning. I’m realizing that there is no substitute for the real thing – for reading. As for me, it’s time to get back to the gym. Maybe I’ll start with some Hemingway for calisthenics, then perhaps move into Socrates for my power-lifting. As long as pages are turning, there are myriad ways that I am growing.

Hey wordy writers! Have you heard of A.P.?

Written by Writing Assistant Becca Stanton 

It’s hard enough to write a college-level paper with so many citation styles and formatting rules to keep track of, but living in a world full of social media can throw another banana peel under the writer’s foot. I’ve had to learn that the hard way. I’m an English major, but I’ve recently started taking Communication classes, and the writing required of a Communication student is a whole different ball game. There’s a writing style that is specific to the world of journalism and online media, called “A.P.” style, or Associated Press. The bones of it are the same as most other writing styles, but there are certain things to keep in mind.

    The A.P. style paper isn’t argumentative. It doesn’t necessarily have a thesis, but instead has a lede. The lede follows the headline of the article to draw a reader’s attention into the content. The headline is like a paper’s title, but very matter-of-fact and to the point. A.P. articles are usually news-related, so it would be typical to see an article titled something like, “Woman saves cat from tree branch.” Doesn’t sound very creative, right? Journalism is all about reporting the facts. The lede acts like a thesis in that it encapsulates the main point of the written piece, but it doesn’t present something to be analyzed or challenged. It presents a fact that the journalist has decided represents the feature story the best.

    Now, why does this kind of writing matter to a college student? From my perspective, I think that it can be useful to not only know how to analyze work, but to inform people when the need arises. I can see myself having to come up with a report or even an article of some kind at a future job, so having some knowledge of A.P. style under my belt is reassuring. Another reason to be aware of it is to understand press releases. There are times when companies send out press releases about their new products or events, which generally have promotional information. They have to be factual and detailed, but also short and sweet. There also has to be a contact person for the organization listed. In the Communication classes that I have taken, I have learned that it pays to be wary of press releases. An organization always tries to frame their product or event in the best light while presenting things factually, so it is important to look at journalists’ work reporting on press releases to get unbiased and cross-referenced information. Practicing this observation can be helpful for college students who are trying to budget and who are trying to land a job anywhere. Being able to work with a marketing team to give people honest and attractive descriptions of what your company is doing is a great skill.

    One of the most important things that I have learned as a writer about A.P. style journalism is the power of being concise. Most journal articles are between three hundred to five hundred words, and all of the really important information is crammed in at the top. This can throw people off, because it is a lot different than the buildup of thesis-driven essays. The A.P. article almost launches the conclusion at you first. I have always struggled with verbosity and wanting to explain things in great detail, so looking at writing from this approach has helped me to think about how to start with the basics and then expand where there is a need and where there is room. Based on the length of this blog post, you can see I’m still working on it!

Being a writing assistant, I’ve seen a lot of different writing styles that work for a lot of different fields of work, but I recommend that you check out A.P. if you don’t have a career choice in mind yet. It’s a great backup for wherever your dreams and talents might take you.

Here’s how working at the Writing Center has prepared me for a Career in Healthcare

Written by Writing Assistant Rebekah R. 

When I was first nominated to work at the writing center during the summer before my Sophomore year at Hope, I was interested in the opportunity to get paid to help my fellow students with their writing. I was excited to have an on-campus job that I would enjoy, but I didn’t really understand how it would connect with my future career goals. At the time, I was considering a career in the medical field. After I told this to one of my fellow Writing Assistants (WAs) on the second day of our August training, she asked me a question that puzzled me: how do you think that working at the Writing Center will tie in with your future career?

In that moment, I had no idea how to answer her question. I told her that I didn’t think that working at the Writing Center would have any connection to my career goals, but I was excited to have the job and explore writing as one of my interests. I assumed that if I were looking for a career in writing, editing, or journalism, like some of the other WAs were, that the job would actually prepare me for my career. On the other hand, since I was interested in science and health care, working as a WA would have little to no impact on my future. At this time, I didn’t realize that the job would allow me to improve or gain skills beyond writing and editing.  

About a year later, I decided that the medical career that I wanted to pursue was physical therapy (PT). The first time that I job shadowed a physical therapist, I was surprised. Much of the work that she did looked a lot like what I do at the Writing Center. I began to see how I could have answered the question that the former WA posed the year before. Here are three ways that working as a WA will help me be a better physical therapist in the future.

1. Teaching –
Other than their role as medical professionals, PTs act as educators. During appointments they teach their patients stretches and exercises for alleviating their pain and/or other symptoms. They teach patients how to perform these exercises at home and how to continue them throughout their lives in order to maintain improvements. Similarly, as a WA, I work with students to teach them how to become better writers, not only for the paper that they are working on in the session, but for all of their future writing endeavors.

2. Sensitivity –
PTs are professionals who must be sensitive to the personal issues that their patients face. Many patients come to the clinic with chronic and/or debilitating pain. Others face frustration with their injuries or are hopeless, feeling that they will never improve. In the same way, many students bring their papers to the Writing Center having put enormous amounts of time and effort into them. Some feel that they are terrible writers, and no matter how hard they try, their writing will never improve. As a WA, I have to be sensitive to the work that my fellow students have already put into their papers before they meet with me. Like PTs, I am constantly looking for encouraging ways to guide those I help in improving their weaknesses and maximizing their strengths.

3. Intercultural Understanding –
As a future PT, one of my goals is to be able to use my Spanish skills to work with Hispanic populations, but even PTs who don’t seek out these opportunities find themselves in situations where cultural competence is key. As a WA, some of my most memorable appointments were working with students for whom English is a second language. Right from the start of the appointment they would often ask me to please check for their grammar mistakes, but typically, the majority of my feedback actually had to do with their writing style. In order to direct the students towards the direct and concise U.S. English writing style that their professors would expect, I had to have a good grasp of how writing style in other languages and countries differs from the one that I grew up knowing.

All things considered, I am excited to graduate and move on to a career that I will enjoy at least as much as I have enjoyed working as a WA. Sometimes I wonder how I ended up deciding to pursue PT and I think about how I slowly fell in love with helping other students improve their writing. Maybe, while experiencing how satisfying it is to teach others and help them achieve their goals as a WA, I realized that this was the type of thing that I wanted to continue doing for the rest of my life.

What’s a Pre-Rough Draft?

Written by Writing Assistant Morgan Brown 

Starting a paper can be a daunting task. Regardless of your major, writing skill, or interest in the paper topic, sometimes starting that introduction feels impossible. Everyone has experienced the moment of looking at a prompt and completely blanking, of staring at a computer screen for hours waiting for ideas to pop onto the page. Sometimes no ideas come to mind. Sometimes the problem lies in writing when ideas rush in but words don’t come easy. Here are four beneficial tips for when those moments arise:

Just start writing!

It’s easier said than done, but it’s guaranteed to at least build an idea for your paper. Set a timer for a certain amount of time (try 15 or 20 minutes) and write without stopping until your timer dings. It doesn’t matter if what you write is grammatically correct, well-written, or even coherent. During this time, you’re free to write total nonsense. This step is just to get your ideas down on paper and let your thoughts flow freely. Once you have at least something written down, it’s easier to plan an outline, and it gives you the motivation you’ll need to plow through the rest of the paper.

Don’t start with the introduction!

The introduction and conclusion are easily the most difficult parts of a paper. Not only do you have to summarize your paper effectively, but you have to make it sound interesting and applicable. It may seem as if writing a thesis statement is the logical first step of a paper, as it structures the rest of the body paragraphs. But sometimes as you write, you realize that your ideas go in a different direction. If you start on your body paragraphs first, the point of your paper will become infinitely clearer, allowing you to go back and write a more fitting thesis and compelling introduction later.

Create an outline!

I’m of the opinion that outlines are essential for papers because you can make them your own. If you’re super organized, like me, write everything that will be included in your paper. From your thesis to the structure of body paragraphs, from quotations to analysis, make your outline as specific as possible. Then, when you go to write your paper, you know exactly what you’re trying to say, and your evidence is already laid out. Even if you’re not super organized, make an outline with one general sentence or two for each main point of your paper. This will help with structure and flow when you get down to writing.

Come to the Klooster Center!

If you’re completely stuck on your paper, we can help! Bring your paper to the writing center. Whether your paper is finished, you only have one or two body paragraphs, or your paper is completely blank, come by the center anyway! A writing assistant can help you to make an outline or help you structure your thoughts. We can’t write your paper for you, but we’d be more than happy to help you start!

Location is Everything: Finding the Right Place to Create Your Best Work

Written by Writing Assistant Anne Gorman

The environments we immerse ourselves in play a huge part in the final products we create, especially when it comes to writing. Finding a spot on campus that works well for you is key. When searching for the perfect spot ask yourself these questions: Do these surroundings motivate me to work harder? Do they motivate me to focus? Do they foster creative thinking? Finding a place that checks “yes” to these three questions will help you find your perfect writing spot. In the meantime, I want to share with you some of my favorite spots around campus and additional tips.

My favorite spot in the library is easily the fourth floor. Although it is a hike to make it to the top, the quiet setting helps me dive deep into my work. The best part of the fourth floor is the long tables. Whenever I write a paper, I like to spread out all of my sources and notes. Having enough table space to organize my thoughts is super important to me! Besides the practical pros of the fourth floor, you also have beautiful views of my two favorite buildings on campus: Graves Hall and Dimnent Chapel.

The library isn’t for everyone, but hey, coffee shops might be! There are plenty of amazing spots around downtown Holland. One of my favorites is Ferris Coffee. I love working at Ferris’s tall tables. I find that standing while writing a paper motivates me to work harder.

One of my favorite tips for productive writing is focused around the workspace. I find that when I set small goals at different locations, my writing becomes more organized and the task doesn’t seem as daunting. For instance, try writing your outline/devising a plan at the Martha Miller Center, head on over to the library to write your paper, and head back to your dorm to edit. This is one of my favorite ways to work. When I section off my work and assign each part a different location, it increases my motivation. The little walk from place to place helps me refocus my thoughts so I can put my best foot forward to finish the assignment. Breaking up where you are working during your writing process has huge benefits! This strategy is especially beneficial if you are deadline-panicking.

I hope that the next time a paper is assigned to you, you feel excited to find the perfect location to help you create your best work. Happy writing!

But what does it mean? An in-depth guide to some well-intentioned writing advice

Written by Writing Assistant Emma Haas

Writing advice generally comes with the best intentions: to make your writing better. But, if you don’t really understand the advice you’ve been given, then it’s pretty hard to move forward. As a Creative Writing major, I’ve gotten lots of tips and tricks to develop my writing style. However, I’ve noticed that while most professors often bring up suggestions, they don’t really take the time to delve into what those suggestions mean and what they do to help your writing. I’m going to take some of the best writing suggestions I’ve heard, and get a little more in depth with them.

“I” Rule: Some professors like to assign personal essays that use first-person “I” for the speaker. These essays, I’ve found, are generally easier to write because we’re familiar with the material already- they’re usually about our own life. These prompts can be fun, but they hold a potentially dire consequence- overusing first-person “I”. This can potentially ruin an otherwise interesting story, so it’s very important to read through your paper and take out as many “I’s” as you can. I like to do this by printing out a physical copy of my paper, then using a bright pen or highlighter, mark each and every time “I” is used. Chances are it’s much more than you think. Then, I go through line by line and see if I can re-word the sentence to decrease the use of “I”. So, the line “I realized I couldn’t change the way I thought about the class” could potentially change into “The way I thought about the class couldn’t be changed.” It’s much easier to read now that some of those “I’s” are gone.

Show, Don’t Tell: If you ask anyone for writing advice, chances are this is what you’ll hear. “Show, don’t tell” is a great tool to use, once you know how to use it. In its basic form, it’s asking you to check your writing for places where you tell your reader something when you could show it to them instead. For example, if in your work you say “Bob is happy when he sees his friend,” that’s telling the reader: Bob is happy. It reads as though you’re spoon feeding information to your reader–it shows them that you don’t trust them to process information on their own. Instead, try showing that Bob is happy by giving him an action or reaction to seeing his friend: “When Fred rounded the corner, Bob’s face lit up.” See the difference? Now imagine if you used that wherever you could in your writing. “Show, don’t tell” is a simple reminder, but it can further your writing skills indefinitely.

Use All Your Senses: This is geared more toward the creative writing people and those first-person “I” stories. This goes hand in hand with “Show, Don’t Tell”: use your senses to tell the reader about an image or scene. For example, you could tell the reader “I recognized my friend because of her straightened hair and the perfume she wore.” That’s alright, but it can be improved if we use that sensory image: “I saw a flash of shiny, straight hair and the faint scent of citrus and knew immediately it was Susan.” Not only is this more interesting to read, but it also gives Susan more characterization in a shorter amount of time. The reader can get a better image of Susan’s hair and can also imply what her personality is like based on the perfume she likes. Getting creative with this sensory characterization will heighten your imagery and really wow your readers.

Trust Your Reader: I mentioned this briefly in the “Show, Don’t Tell” section, but it’s worth explaining this a bit more. Trusting your reader means just that: trusting that your reader understands some of the concepts you’re writing about. Think about it: what makes a joke funny? It relies on information that you already have to connect the dots and find the humor. We all are familiar with how awkward it is when you have to explain the joke- it’s the same with writing. You don’t have to define every concept you use or talk about. Assume the reader is semi-familiar with your topic already. This doesn’t mean assume the reader knows everything– it just means pick and choose which topics you explain, and when you do explain them, do it briefly.

These are just a few of the best suggestions I’ve received, but they’ve improved my writing exponentially during my time at Hope. Once you’ve understood what the advice you’re receiving means, you can apply it to nearly every piece of writing you produce. If you’re given a tip to improve your writing and it doesn’t make sense: don’t be afraid to ask more about it until you really understand it. Besides, writing tips are meant to help you, and they can’t do that if they don’t make sense. But once you do understand, you will be unstoppable!

We Get It: Writing is Hard!

By Writing Assistant Lucy Katter

Love it or hate it, writing is really hard. No matter what type it is: fiction, nonfiction, formal, informal, writing well takes a lot of work.

Perhaps it sounds weird that a Writing Assistant would be saying this, but the fact that I have that position is exactly why I’m writing this. I want to say, when it comes to the art of writing, Writing Assistants are on the same page as you are.  I’d like to offer some encouragement to those who struggle with writing papers for class, and how Writing Assistants can help. Here are some common concerns of students who visit.

  1.     I feel so lost about how to write or edit my paper I don’t know where to begin.

        At the beginning of appointments at the Klooster Center, we ask what the student would like help with, and often he or she struggles to voice what they what help with. Sometimes, the answer is “everything” or “I don’t know”.

        Whether you need to brainstorm ideas for a paper or to decode cryptic instructions from your professor on what your paper is supposed to be about, we can help you. It is nice to someone to bounce these ideas off of. For me, talking about the topic of my paper has often helped me figure out how to best organize it.

  1.     My writing is personal, and I feel like it’ll be judged by the writing assistant.

It can be uncomfortable to share your personal thoughts or arguments with strangers. Even when you know we don’t bite, it feels vulnerable to expose your writing to people you don’t know. I understand that. For this reason, I was a little reluctant to go to the center myself before I became a Writing Assistant. The truth is, however, that you’ll find the assistants are warm and helpful, and you’ll get some candy for coming! Also, the Assistants respect that coming to the Center can be intimidating and are good at putting students at ease. We know that there are all sorts of reasons it can be hard to write for school: some people just don’t love writing, or don’t enjoy the class and struggle to write for it, or there’s another reason a student is finding this paper particularly difficult. We’re students too, so we get how difficult college life can be.

  1.     They’re going to make me rewrite the paper and I don’t have time.

Or something like that, like we’re going to have so many corrections that you won’t be able to make them in time. One response I have to this is that we get the due date for your paper on the little green slip you fill out for us before your appointment. This helps us tailor our comments for you. We know there is only so much you can alter in a given amount of time. We do our best to not overwhelm students with corrections, and we can always find positives in student’s papers, no matter how bad the student may think it is.

  The other response I have to that is: there’s a reason we are called Writing Assistants. We are here to help you out and point out, in our view, what you’re doing right, and what you could do better. We’re not going to write a paragraph for you, or tell you to make major changes right before the paper is due. We’re just your guides because we believe in you! We believe that you can and will improve your paper, and when it comes down to it, we’re here to help you believe in yourself as well.

I hope reading this encouraged any who might’ve been conflicted about going to the Klooster Writing Center. When in doubt, make an appointment, or if you can’t, we accept walk-ins as well. Remember, Writing Assistants understand the struggle of writing papers, and we’re on your side!

Need Advice with a Business Letter or Internship Application? We can Help!

Written by Writing Assistant Aireal Keefer

As college students, we’re all preparing for our inevitable leap into the real world. As we’ve all been told, it’ll be a rough awakening! Fortunately, the Writing Center can help to prepare you for the real world. Our assistants are well trained in the discipline of business writing and are able to give you tools and insights into what future employers are looking for.

Whether you need help with a resume, a cover letter, or an application, writing assistants are waiting and ready. Through our vast variety of majors and minors, we will do our best to match you with a writing assistant who can give you advice as to what an employer in a specific field may be looking to see in your pieces.

For a student searching for a future internship or job, the first step is to have a well-written embodiment of the experiences and events you have encountered that would make you an essential addition to their team. These pieces of writing are often the first thing future employers will see in regards to you. Employers will gain insight about work ethic, experience, and professionalism from the way these pieces are crafted, which is a big deal in the business world!

Having a well-written resume, cover letter, or application is the first key to success with any new experience. Along with this, these pieces aim to showcase your accomplishments and achievements in order to display the best version of you. They allow employers to recognize your skills and hire you based on how well they believe you would fit into their company.

As crazy as it may seem, one resume could be the beginning of the rest of your life and one cover letter could earn you the job you’ve always wanted. Both of these pieces must be clean, organized, and concise. These attributes will not only gain an employer’s respect but will also allow them to effortlessly review your work. Our goal at the Writing Center is to give you the tips and tricks needed to perfect these pieces of writing and prepare you for life after college.

Applying for jobs and internships can be extremely stressful, but at Writing Center we aim to reduce some of this stress and ensure that you are prepared for whatever your goals may be. Every student, at some point in their college career, must be prepared to face the trials and tribulations of the world head-on. Your fellow students at the Writing Center would love to be a part of this preparation, so stop by soon with questions regarding resumes, cover letters, and applications!

Writing For A Religion Class

  Written by Writing Assistant Jacob Starr

  Scenario: you’re sitting in your 100-200 level Religion course, the Professor announces at the end of class that you have a  four-five page research paper. You have no ideas, and you’re not someone who has attended private Christian school your whole life. You hardly even know who this Jesus guy is, let alone how to talk for five pages about the sacred sacrament of the Eucharist from the perspective of a Lutheran. What you have is a prompt that you don’t understand and a due date that is far too pressing. At this point, you also have two options; option 1: panic, option 2: keep reading this post and learn how to write any religion paper! I’ve broken my method down into four steps that are easy to remember through the power of alliteration: Read, Research, Write, and Re-examine. Without further ado, if you chose option 2, let’s dive in.

Reader’s note: I find the analogy of driving a car very helpful for writing a paper, so fair warning, I will be doing it often.

Read

   I have titled this step “read” because you are going to read…a lot. In just about every religion class you’ll ever take, excluding World Religions, the prompt that you receive will be related to a book called the Bible. If you are coming from a place of next to or no knowledge of the Biblical text, what you are going to want to do is ask your professor which passage(s) you should read if that has not been made apparent from being present in the classroom. Then the next part is simple, read the passage(s) the professor tells you to look at. Don’t panic if you don’t understand what the passage(s) means or how these Scholars have come up with their interpretations of it(them) because you’ve only done half of the reading you’re going to need to do in order to successfully write your paper. Writing a religion paper without doing any reading is like driving a car, except instead of an actual car, you jump inside a large cardboard box and start making “vroom, vroom” noises. Because just like writing your paper, nobody is going to consider what you’re doing is driving a car.

Research

   This next step is where the understanding comes, it also includes reading. No matter if you’re a Bible veteran or have never touched the book, you’re gonna wanna look at some biblical commentaries concerning the passage(s) you’re studying. There’s always something new to learn in the world of Biblical Studies! There are several places where you can find the sources you’ll need In order to successfully understand your passage(s) (and also make your bibliography look impressive), the Van Wylan library is an excellent place to start. Using the Hope College Library website, you can easily find a list of online articles and books. Physical commentaries can be found on the fourth floor of the library. Believe me, the trip is worth it. These authors will tell you everything you need to know about any passage of scripture your professor could hope to assign to you. Likewise, online articles and books can be just as helpful, sometimes even more so if your thesis is over a more specialized topic. Research and reading your passage are two of the most important steps in this entire process. Writing a Religion Paper without doing the proper research is like driving a car without any gas, you’re not gonna get very far!

Write

   The next step is pretty self-explanatory, you gotta actually sit down and write your paper. Before you begin to write a single word of your paper, it is extremely helpful to make an outline of what you intend to write. 4-5 page papers don’t just happen, you need to go in with a plan. Attempting to write any research paper without coming up with an outline to give it structure and a clear path is akin to getting behind the wheel of a car blindfolded. You’ll have absolutely no sense of direction, causing carnage and terror everywhere you go until the car breaks down. Once you have constructed a clear outline including an introduction, body with at least three points, and conclusion, you are ready to write. Having read your passage, done all the necessary research, and constructed a detailed helpful outline, the writing of the paper should be as simple as answering a short-answer question on an open note test. The only difficulty is finding the time to sit down and crank it out, which leads us to our final step!

Re-examine  

   After having finished the first draft of your paper, the next step is to have a friend look over your work. It is not always the best idea to check your own writing, especially if you’re coming off a three-hour writing session. This is an excellent time to make an appointment with the writing center! It is our job to give constructive feedback on papers in order to make your work as successful as possible. We can also help come up with outlines or even brainstorm possible theses for your paper. Our end goal is to help students like you become more successful in their writing for class and for future employment. I hope that this post has been educational and you now feel prepared to tackle your paper!