Wow, I can’t believe it, my first semester of university is over. It feels like just yesterday I was walking around campus, looking like a lost dog, with a huge map in my hand searching for my classrooms. I can’t believe how fast this semester has gone by, it had its ups and downs, but I made it. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime, and learnt skills that I will apply in my everyday life. Overall, I am truly proud of myself for how well I have done in English 109. The thing I am proud of the most is that my university English mark is higher than what I got in high school. This was a pleasant surprise for me as I anticipated my grade being lower due to the added difficulty of university courses. Personally, this was very reassuring for me that I could to this, and that I would do ok in university.
I am also very surprised and proud of how much I have grown as a writer since I have adapted several new writing skills that I can use throughout university, such as enhancing my ability to construct an effective strong argument in my writing. The three rhetorical appeals that I learnt in class, Ethos, Pathos and Logos, are techniques that I will now be applying to all my academic papers, as they are essential in the creation of a persuasive argument.
The second skill that I have developed this semester is having an effective editing process. In the past I have fallen fault to the one draft essay. You know, when you write your essay start to finish in one night, editing and all. Throughout this semester I have learned about the importance of the editing process and have seen the difference in the level of work that I am now producing when I extensively edit my assignments. Two aspects of the editing process that I now apply to all of my assignment are the “shitty first draft” and peer editing. Personally, the “shitty first draft” allow me to get all of my ideas onto the paper without having to worry necessarily about the structure of the assignment. In the past, the second concept of peer editing, I have been conscious about sharing my work with my peers, as I feared the judgment that would come along with it. Although throughout the semester I have gained confidence in my work as well as become comfortable with my peers, trusting them and their input on my work. One method of peer editing that I had never experienced before, although grew to love, was editing through an online platform. This was introduced to me during the peer editing stage of the final research essay, where we used “Google docs” to communicate and give constructive criticism about each other’s wok, bettering each other as writers. This will definitely be an aspect of editing that I will carry with me in the future since it allows my peers and me to communicate at any point, without having to meet face to face.
Lastly, the final skill that I have developed over the course of the semester is time management. At the beginning of the semester this was an aspect that I struggled with, but it became evident that I was unable to write an effective paper in one night, especially considering that my university workload was quickly growing. After this realization, I began to implement methods of organization, such as an agenda and a calendar to keep myself organized. This helped me visualize when my assignments were due and when I needed to begin them, being mindful of the many other assignments that I had to do as well.
As my first semester in university comes to a close I can’t help but think about where I was just a short three months ago, coming into English 109. Thinking back to what I know now, and what I wish I knew then. With that being said there is a few things that I advise students going into there first year to know.
The first, and perhaps most important being, procrastination doesn’t work; and time management is essential for success. As I explained previously, you’re not alone; I too am a member of the procrastination nation. Save yourself the time and not so good marks, take my advice, you can’t write an effective paper in one night. Unlike your research paper, Rome wasn’t built in one night, and neither should your essay. A great masterpiece such as the Roman Empire took time and so should your paper, just keep in mind “no great decisions are made at 3am” (Humphrey 2016).
My second piece of advice is that it’s normal for your marks to not be the exact same as you got in high school, but don’t get discouraged, this happens to almost everyone entering university. And I promise you that you will get the hang of it with time, just like I am beginning to. What’s important is that you are trying your hardest, and you are taking the constructive criticism from your teachers, to improve, and produce better work on the next assignment. Remember that with a positive attitude, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
My last piece of advice is to meet with your professors in person, ask them anything, concerns, questions, comments. Contrary to what is said, they want you to success and they are willing to meet with you after class to help you do so. I remember going into university with the mindset that your professors don’t care if you pass or fail, as this is what I was told. I am here to reassure you that in most cases, this is incorrect, and that I would advise you to take advantage of the office hours that your professors offer.
Overall, I am extremely surprised about how much I have grown as a writer over the course of the semester. I am so very thankful that I decided to take English 109. This course has allowed me to learn vital skills such as time management, editing, and the elements for an effective argument. All of which I can apply to my writing in future, may this be throughout my university experience, editing my application for a job interview or possibly even to insure that I will win an argument with my parents. No matter where it may be, I know for certain that I will use them again. When I do, I will think back to the time spent in this course, the friendships I made and the skills I adapted.