Outline. Outline. Outline.
You've probably been hearing this word since middle school and are sick of it by now. At the beginning of high school I remember thinking that I couldn't wait to get to college so that I didn't have to outline anymore. That's true you don't HAVE to outline, but you should.
When I'm talking about outlining I'm not just talking about taking notes in an outline format, I'm talking about outlining papers.
It doesn't matter if your first college writing assignment is 750 words or a multi-page research paper, you will get nervous or overwhelmed. In high school I had to do a ton of lengthy essay and papers. One of these was my senior project for which an outline was required. This was the first time I had to write an outline and I hated it. I hated having to follow formatting rules, and I hated that I couldn't just jump right into the writing part of my paper. So instead I sat down, wrote the paper first, then wrote an outline. It took me almost a full week to write the essay, which was probably about 10 collective hours.
This is bad.
Do not do what I did.
Later on in my senior year we have to write an approximate five page paper on feminist theory. I decided to try and write an outline first, in my own format, on my own time, the day the assignment was assigned. The outline took me all of an hour. Having this outline as a guide allowed me to more easily write my final paper. It only took me three hours to complete my assignment because I had written all of my main points and ideas down ahead of time. My paper was completed weeks in advance thanks to my outlining, so when everyone in my class was frantically scrambling to complete theirs I was relaxed and focusing on all of my assignments rather than just the one. If you want to minimize the stress of large writing assignments, doing a simple outline can be amazing!
If you would like me to write about how I do my outlines let me know and I will make that happen!
(confession: I still have my feminist theory outline because I'm a dork and I'm proud of it)