Letter to the Returning Writer

Hey, friend. I’m not sure how long it’s been since you’ve written for school or for fun. Whether it’s been a semester, a year, five years, or even twenty years, the effects of passing time can be reversed more quickly than you might suppose. Although writing is a skill which can always be improved upon, it’s also a bit like riding a bike; those who have learned will not forget how to do so just because they haven’t gone for a ride in a while. Once you’ve conquered the mental road block that you’ve “forgotten” how to write or “don’t know enough anymore,” you can adhere to the following tips in order to maximize your success.

  • Read over your old papers. Horror writer Stephen King is known to lock away his manuscripts for ten years before revisiting them to correct mistakes. Why? Because the passing of time enables us to notice more potential improvements in our projects than if we read our own paper we wrote yesterday. By laughing at the old mistakes you’ve made, you can enter the new semester feeling confident that you’ve learned since your last writing attempts.
  • Visit the Writing Center. Yes, this is the shameless plug. But I have no shame in it because I’ve seen students arrive at our center the first week of fall semester feeling rusty and unsure of their skills. Most of the time, after sitting down with a consultant, the worry vanishes from their face. A second opinion is sometimes all that is required to reignite the writing part of our brain that’s simply been dormant for a while.

As you enter the new semester with eagerness and hope to improve your skills and learn inside the classroom, remember that you are not alone. No matter what your writing skill level may be, perfection is impossible; this should grant you hope! You and every student around you can work toward improvement, but few of them do. By reading this blog, incorporating advice, and visiting the Writing Center, you are taking a greater charge of your education than many students ever feign to do. Give yourself a pat on the back; you’re already ahead of the game. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia E. Butler.

Written by Karoline

Image credit

Spring Renewal

It’s October as I write this blog post, so it’s strange to be thinking about the spring semester. The beginning of a new semester means that I have to start over at the beginning with a new set of classes, work, and a new schedule. I have to find my rhythm again and get back into the swing of things. After a long winter break, especially one spent lying around the house or on vacation with family, getting used to school and work again can seem unappealing at first glance. However, the spring semester can also be thrilling. Let me tell you why.

First, the new classes of the spring semester mean new subjects to learn. I usually find that the initial novelty and excitement I get from taking classes I want to take during fall semester wears off as the semester begins to close. I tend to get a little bored and weary of the material after all the assignments that are due around Thanksgiving break. However, after getting a chance to relax during winter break, I always feel thrilled all over again when spring semester rolls around. I’m excited by the prospect of new information and material I’ve been waiting to learn since registering for my spring classes in October. In this way, I never get too tired of my classes before I get the chance to take new ones.

Secondly, the spring semester comes with a chance to begin anew. Regardless of whether the fall semester was good, bad, or ugly for me, spring semester brings with it the chance to start fresh and be the excellent student I know I can be. I like to start the first few weeks of every new semester by putting all of my assignments in my planner and by attending my classes with a smile. Never mind that these aspirations to have a well-organized and positive attitude only seem to last for those first few weeks; it’s the thought that counts! Besides, making good impressions on my professors and classmates during the first class sessions reminds me of my ambition to excel in academics and helps me to endure, with a can-do spirit, the difficult assignments that come later in the semester.

Finally, the spring semester is different from the fall because it offers a light at the end of an academic tunnel. During the spring semester, I tend to feel that I have a concrete goal to work towards in my classes. Last spring, I was working to complete my freshman year, and this spring, I’ll be working to finish sophomore year. The specific and definite objective of completing one full year of school is motivational to me. I find I work in my classes more efficiently with the clear view of the end of my academic career that comes with the spring semester. I can only imagine how my class work will be affected by this burst of spring motivation when my last spring semester rolls around and I can envision my graduation.

baby-duck

Spring is a season of renewal. Though the beginning of the spring semester means all new classes and schedules to adjust to, it also brings new opportunities to reinvigorate my excitement to learn, begin fresh with my organizational skills and a positive attitude, and have a concrete goal to look forward to and work toward. Spring is a wonderful season with a plethora of opportunities, and I intend to make the most out of each and every one.

Written by Becca

Image credits: Header image, Fluffy Duckling

It’s Not Enjoyable. It’s Not Healthy. It’s Not Worth It.

Stress: a word that often appears at the top of a college student’s vocabulary list. We are exhausted, always, as stress and pressure to excel academically is ever-present in our lives. Whether it is brought on by parents, professors, or one’s own drive to succeed, stress holds an intense amount of power in the way that we interact with the world, and, more importantly, stress can definitely hinder our relationship with God.

Now, let’s be honest.

I’m the type of person who greets each new semester with a big smile and arms wide open. I get thoroughly excited about picking out new school supplies, and the smell of sharpened pencils brings me entirely too much joy. My obsession with new supplies and organization is so real, that the TV show,  “My Strange Addiction,” reached out to me in hopes of doing a segment on the girl who sniffs sharpened lead (JK, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this actually happened).

The moral of this story is that I love school, and, for the most part, I enjoy completing assignments that require creativity and prepare me for my future career as an educator. I have a passion for higher education, but sometimes that passion transforms into complete and utter drudgery.

Being that I literally will NOT submit anything less than my best for grading, an abundance of stress and exhaustion begins to reside in my being not too long after the start of a new semester. Like my second cousin at Christmas time, stress storms into my life, unwelcomed, and refuses to leave until I’ve fed it all of my time and energy. This relationship with stress is toxic. It affects not only me, but those who are gracious enough to want to spend time with the girl who lets an unnecessary emotion control her life.  It’s not enjoyable. It’s not healthy. It’s not worth it.

Why is it that I, like so many others in my generation, insist on allowing stress to consume me? After three years of struggling and fighting and persevering to succeed in a collegiate world dominated by stress and pressure, I think I finally found the answer:

Priorities.

For the past three years, my number one priority has been to perform in a way that would please my professors, make my family happy, and impress my peers; I wanted nothing but for others to find pleasure in and be impressed with my doings.

Were these bad desires? Not exactly. But, there were some drastic flaws in my intentions, which were, what I believe to be, the causes of my stress filled life.

Had performing in a way that pleased God been my number one priority, I would have been reminded that He longs for me to work wholeheartedly for Him and not for man (Colossians 3:23). I would have been humbled in the fact that He is the source of all of my creativity and talent (Ephesians 4:17). I would have found peace by reflecting on how He has an everlasting, passionate love and care for me that is not based on the quality of my work or the grades that I receive (Romans 8:38-39). I would have sought to please Him more and others less.

We, as sinners, spend too much time living and striving and breathing to find approval from the world that we often become blind of the approval that God has already given us. So, we work hard through the stress, and we get the good grade, and, though we win the approval that we desire at the time, we almost always end up just as empty as before because we sought acceptance from everyone but the One who actually matters. Whose opinion of us is never less than wonderful. Who sees our imperfects, yet loves us all the same. It really. isn’t. worth it.

Some anonymous smart person once said, “Be a prayer warrior, not a panicked worrier,” and that is exactly what I encourage you and me to do today.

prayer warrior

Whenever you’re feeling stressed or worried or that you must do everything on Earth and Mars perfectly in order to get someone to approve of you, stop. Take a second to pray and ask the Lord to help you find your worth in Him, and I can promise you that stress will be much more hesitant to come around.

Written by Haley

Photo credits: Featured Image, Prayer Warrior

Why the First Day of School Isn’t Actually a Bad Thing

  1. You get to see all your friends again!

bubble wrap

It was Shakespeare who said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” And he was right. The first couple weeks of school are the best time to catch up with your friends before the semester gets crazy. Plus, (at least in Texas), it’s still warm enough for pool parties and cook-outs, except now they involve your best buds. Win win!

  1. Tomorrow is always fresh.

book

There’s something about starting a new semester with a clean slate that always makes me happy. It’s time to start afresh, try harder, and accomplish new tasks and goals. Get ready to punch Monday in the face!

  1. New classes!

brace yourselves

Hooray for learning new stuff! You don’t have to study the same exact thing all over again – it’s time to move on to something new. Raise your hand if you get burned out on a topic by the end of the semester.

*raises hand*

Unless, of course, you‘re a music major and have to take eighty thousand bajillion semesters of music theory and analysis. Put that hand back down, you traitor.

  1. Back to a routine.

wile e coyote

This can be good or bad. Take your pick.

Written by Carilee

Image credits: Featured ImageBubble Wrap, Anne Shirley quote, Brace Yourselves, Wile E. Coyote

The Importance of Handouts (And Not the Government Kind)

Over the summer, the University Writing Center completed an important overhaul of all our handouts. Through many hours of meticulous, detailed work, the UWC staff edited and revised all ninety-four of our quick reference flyers in preparation for the fall 2015 semester. Plastered with a new logo, the handouts were printed and placed outside our office in a new, more colorful shelving system.

Every so often, the Writing Center staff edits our handouts to ensure that they are up-to-date with the most relevant information for our students. From grammar review sheets to formatting packets to resume help, the handouts are carefully revised in an easy-to-read format. As needed, students are UWC Logowelcome and encouraged to refer to our handouts as refreshers or for step-by-step instructions.

Why are handouts so important? From a student’s perspective, the UWC handouts are an invaluable resource when writing a paper. Iffy on how to use commas correctly? Use our handout. Confused about how to arrange footnotes in Turabian? Use our handout. Stuck on how to eliminate first person pronouns and convert them to third person? Use our handout. Each handout is packed with easy definitions, explanations, and examples so that students can learn how to write effectively.

11230601_10153587826239501_7784420177866397354_nAt the same time, handouts serve a dual purpose. Not only are they invaluable for students, they are irreplaceable for consultants as well. Handouts allow us a way to offer examples and easy definitions during sessions with students. Many times, we turn to the handouts to help explain a concept or rule. We use them as supplements so that the student may understand the importance of writing well. While they do not replace face-to-face consultations, the handouts are helpful references that are ready whenever students may need them.

So as this new semester of learning dawns and summer-tanned students return from vacation, the handouts are fresh and ready. And so are we.

 

The Writing Center’s handouts are always available online (here: http://www3.dbu.edu/uwc/flyers.asp) and outside the UWC office.

Written by Jenna