Essay writing has always been a personal struggle of mine; the formatting, structure and referencing had often confused the heck out of me. I had never properly understood how to write, nor did I ever do particularly well in an English class. The Hamburger/Sandwich Method everyone had spoken of or utilized in high school had never clicked for me; I had never known where to begin. I hated it, mainly because my essays were consecutively and consistently slapped with a harsh “Nice Try, you’ve earned a B”, or a “Please come see me so we can review the structure, outline, and basically every other aspect of your essay”.
I genuinely despised English, all throughout grade 9, 10 and 11, and I could not wait to finish my last year of English, until I had actually entered grade 12.
I remember preparing to write my last English essay of high school which just so happened to be the most unanticipated paper of the year: the Independent Study Unit essay. Despite me dreading the idea of another flawed and failed draft beforehand, something had come across me. I had some sort of epiphany, I guess you could say, where it suddenly all made sense.
This epiphany I believe, is what one would call, the sudden desire to overachieve. I had never done particularly well on essay, and a little portion of my brain said, “Hey, why not actually give it a go? Try your best, go above and beyond.” So, I did. I put my all into that paper and I strived for greatness. I incorporated twice as many quotes, I elaborated beyond belief (and repeated myself numerous times), I made comparisons, and most importantly, in my perspective at least, I approached people and asked them to edit my essay. For that essay alone, I had asked a minimum of five, maybe six people to edit; those people being my peers, parents, acquaintances and my teacher. I had asked more people to edit that one essay than I had for any other paper throughout my entire high school career. All had such different viewpoints and ideas to stretch throughout my paper; it was phenomenal what I was able to take from asking so many of them. Sitting with these individuals and reviewing it was not only helpful in the sense of receiving another opinion, but I was also able to pick out points that I liked and did not like, points that I felt were strong or weak, and so forth.
It helped me learn to critique myself a little more. Taking the time to review a paper, by yourself, but also with a variety of people helps to make it so much better, I guarantee it. I think that’s the trick – well, for high school students at least. From what I’ve heard, University is a whole new playing field. It appears to be so much different from high school English courses; now, maybe I’m wrong, but maybe I’m not.
There are so many presumptions students make when coming into university; one of mine being that with the larger class sizes, and busyness of my peers, no one would be able to edit or review my essays and papers. How could I critique myself if no one else could get the ball rolling? Speaking in terms of writing purposes, opinions are very valuable to me so this possible change was quite terrifying.
I think the secret is to reach out. Reach out to peers that aren’t busy, to other professors if your professor can’t help you at an exact moment. Clarify, justify, elaborate. Develop questions if something doesn’t make sense. Reach out to what you value to help you succeed and use that to your advantage. I value different viewpoints and I like hearing suggestions on how to make my paper sublime. I have learned that there are so many resources that you can use if one resource isn’t available. This realization, and the skills I’ve picked up on within the past year have made me anticipate English for once. Maybe it’ll be harder, maybe I’ll comprehend it more, maybe I’ll fail; you never really know until you try, am I right? Wherever this journey may take me, I am actually quite looking forward to it; my 15 year-old self would be laughing if she ever read this. I say, bring it on for a change.