The Anatomy of the College Essay: A Bare-All Feature

Finals are over!
But since I never give up a chance to write a good paper, here’s one off the books.

Yep, it’s the anatomy of the college essay, dissected for all to see. Exposed below, in one bare-all feature, are (some of) my academic writing secrets.

(I know you’re all so THRILLED.)

Actual Anatomy: the Significance of Cruciality

In college essays, you always start with a good title, preferably one with alliteration. Really good alliteration draws people in to your work; because I mean, that’s what nerds professors say. The next part of the title explains the theme, topic, and title of work that you are analyzing. Then, you introduced the broad topic of your paper in the first few lines (like I’ve just done here), after which you tell them the really technical thesis statement that includes not only the topic (mine is–the structure of essays) and theme (mine is–crucial, life-saving inclusions) but also HOW these things are accomplished (guys, it’s where ya put the stuff). Attention! Upcoming thesis! … (Drumroll.) In this paper, I will attempt to convey the cruciality of popular phrasing and its significance as it relates to essay structure, content, and paper success. (Did ya miss it? Huh? Did ya?)

One of the most important things to remember is that the first paragraph is a great place to say the phrase: “One of the most important things.” People are like, “Ooo, nice. This essay’s Important.” So now that you’ve got that, we’re gonna get down to business. You’ve got your font, margins, name, prof, class, title, and text perfectly aligned. Anyway who doesn’t is: An Absolute English Loser. Honestly. No one should hand in an assignment without the proper format. Buy stock in Bedford, it is your friend, I’m so glad we had that talk. Moving on.

In my thesis, notice that I used the first person “I.” This is an absolute college no-no. The goal here, though, is to break rules. What you wanna do is write really good papers and then break a couple writings rules so that you look really confident and bad-to-the-bone. Professors love this. Some of my favorites are: beginning sentences with coordinating conjunctions. And you just might look a little smarter. Also, throw in one or two “I argue’s” throughout your paper. When you are making a really important point, preface it with “I argue.” For example:  “Blar blar blar blar blar, but I argue: This Really Important Point.” (And who’s gonna disagree with you? It’s black and white, permanent ink, on a page.)

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that when I write, I have this really nasty habit of writing HUGE WONKY paragraphs that professors CAN I GET A DISLIKE ON THAT, SISTER?! AMEN! They don’t like them, okay? So, sometimes I just [Enter, Tab], which works well visually (and sometimes professors don’t even notice this sneaky trick), but if I want to get real smarty-pants, I use the Notonlybutalso. Okay, to do this, you start with:

Not only is this intro phrase tricking you into thinking that I have an additional point to argue (but it’s really just the middle of the above paragraph), but also, you’ve completely forgotten that I didn’t have a conclusion sentence in the previous “paragraph”. [Uncontrollable giggles are in the margins.]

It is important to notice that many of my paragraphs start out with “It’s important to notice.” This is because good arguments/discussions begin on the pretense of pre-knowledge (before getting to the point). What readers don’t realize is that my “important notices” are really just the main points of my paper. But they are highlighted as if they are background knowledge, so the reader’s like: “Huh? Wait. I never knew that. This is smart.” You can mix it up with “It is important to remember,” or “It is significant to notice.” Significant-to-notice’s are really great. And even “notice” itself. Sometimes I read my papers, and I’m like, “Wow, there’s just a lot of ‘noticing’ going on here.” I mean, yeah, it bugs me, but fresh readers might not notice (heh heh), so it works.

Not only are significant things getting noticed, but they are also becoming “crucial.” You know, a 16 year old atheist Quaker (?) gave me a great writing tip once. He’s like, “I have a favorite word that I just throw in at the end of my papers. … ‘Crucial.’ I always end my papers with ‘crucial.’ Because, I mean, if what I’m saying is crucial, then what are they gonna say to that, you know?” The kid is way too smart for his own good (okay, I was his lab partner in college physics!), and I hated to admit it, but he was absolutely right. ALL THE THINGS get Crucial. It is CRUCIAL to notice the significance of cruciality.

Then. Oh my dear sacred “then.” I used to use “truly.” But I found it to be too trite. “Then” is my transition drug of choice. It would appear, then, that I truly love to use the word “then” as my favorite transition. Bliss. Also, “also” and “additionally” are my next-favorite transitions.(!!) I like them very much, they are like a married couple, or really just happy parallel words.  (Just a note: I broke a rule—comma splice for the win!)

Another important voice in your paper is your research. Every paragraph should have some quoted research by some smartsy-fartsy professor or historian. My advice? Get in, get out. (Ooo, ‘nother comma splice.) And buffer, buffer, buffer. Insulate. Hug. Hug your research. You’ve GOT to use an introduction phrase, a smarty-pants-professor intro phrase, (then the phrase) (oh, and the proper phrase citation), and finally—the explanation of the phrase. All this does is let your reader know that you probably could have published that research if you would have been given the chance. In other words, you TOTES know what they’re talking about. It’s like: “In Esther’s online article ‘Actual Anatomy: the Significance of Cruciality,’ she demonstrates how important quoted research is in academic writing. She suggests, ‘Every paragraph should have some quoted research by some smartsy-fartsy professor or historian’ (Esther 1). Here Esther explains the amount of quoted material necessary for college papers.” See? That wasn’t so hard. Now, do it every time, or I’ll bash your knee-caps in.

One of the final things to remember is that somewhere along the way, in your research, you’ll notice that one of your points doesn’t go with your paper at all, and actually, it totally contradicts everything you are trying to say. Still, put it into your paper, but only after adding a funky “paradoxically,” and once again buffer it with a quotation by some pain-in-the-butt who has already said what you wanted to say, published it, and worded it in a way that makes so much more money that you do. The inclusion of contradictory material brings a nice postmodern ambiguity to your paper. (BeeTeeDoubleYou: “paradoxically” is an A-maker just like: “juxtaposition.” Maybe it has something to do with x’s. … X words. Like, “the crux of this argument is juxtapositioned, paradoxically, between affixation and exploration.” Yesssss. Or, I guess: Yexxxxxx.)

The “we.” Do we? I don’t know. But they don’t know either. So if you make one giant sweeping generalization, begin it with: “We can tend to… at times… usually… depending… sometimes… mostly.” The “we” hooks every reader so that either the reader’s like, “CH! Yeah!” or, “Dude, I don’t feel that way AT ALL. I must be a freak. Hmmm. I should finish reading this paper to figure out more how I can become like the rest of mainstream society and not be like a weirdy toad in a closet.”

What I have outlined for you is how to begin and fill your paper, but now I will talk about the end. The conclusion is an exact restatement of all your main points (except we are smart so we use a lil different phrasing). Then you open it up. Make everything Real Broad. Correlate everything to the world, to society, and to Crucial. Once the last few sentences have truly convinced readers, then, that it is significant to notice the paradoxical juxtapositions of structure with explanation, and now that we know what has not been known, then it is important, because: it was.

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6 thoughts on “The Anatomy of the College Essay: A Bare-All Feature”

    1. Nerdy brilliance is what I strive for! Thank you! lol
      Another word I forgot to include is “another.” GREAT for paragraph beginnings.
      (Yeah, okay, so this is really nerdy, isn’t it?)

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