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  #1  
Old 05-01-04, 02:39 AM
D.Lerious D.Lerious is offline
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paper writing tips....from a graduating college student with ADD

As a veteran ADD college student, I thought I'd share some tips, especially regarding papers, especially in regards to procrastination, and writers block.


1. Sometimes writers block and procrastination stems from fearing that you can't find something good. However, it's better to have a a bunch of *%^ written than nothing at all. At least you'll have something to work with, and worse case scenario, you'll get something higher than an 'F'(Unless the prof is really tough.

2. do some writing by hand, away from distractions, then copy it on the computer.

3. talk to your professors or teachers about your ADD

4. Don't be afraid to ask for extensions if you need them, but use this as a next to last resort. A good way to get one late in the game is to accept some penalty(but it should be less than what the professor says on the syllabi). For example, this week, I had two papers due, but could only work on and finish one. The other was due on Thursday. So I offered the teacher the following deal: a two day penalty, and it'll be in the next Monday.

5. try to have good attendence, and participation. Not only is it better overall, you'll have better ground to stand on with the professor, because he/she would be less likly to think of you as a slacker. However, this suggestion of course only applies in cases where attendence and participation matter.
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Old 05-01-04, 01:21 PM
D.Lerious D.Lerious is offline
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oh....one more thing- for bibliographies...copy and paste when you can!!
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Old 06-04-04, 09:57 PM
Alex Alex is offline
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As a just-diagnosed (as in, haven't gotten a treatment plan worked out yet early) college student, I'll toss some tips out there. Seeing as all my experience is unmedicated and undiagnosed, it should be helpful to all, and even more so to those who've got more control over themselves than I do. I'm also pulling a 3.45 GPA so far, hoping to see that rise next year with my treatment, so these tricks work, and get good marks.

1. Paraphrasing is your friend. You can write a C paper by re-writing bits from various sources (and, obviously, footnoting them religiously to avoid even a hint of plagiarism). This upgrades to a B paper if you can contrast different opinions between two or more sources, and correlate the two differing views. And it bumps to an A if you can then come up with something new through that kind of analysis. But it all begins with paraphrasing. Heck, I've been told I don't include enough paraphrased material in some papers.

And don't hold me to task on those grades. Profs vary, but that's a decent rough guide.

2. Write the whole darn thing first. Don't go back and rewrite anything until you've got a finished draft. Otherwise, you'll keep rewriting your introduction for three days, and have to write the body in the last day you have left. Just get as much as you can on paper first, and then worry about length and getting it 'right'.

3. Don't get narrow-minded. I had a perfectly nice paper on how the cultural differences between two Native American groups affected their early European contacts almost done, and then it took a huge dive into geographical determinism. With an additional source provided by my prof, that paper went from a generic B paper to a nice A-, and that only because I slacked off and didn't thoroughly deal with a couple of issues I should have, because I ran out of time. Hopefully, that'll change this fall, either through meds or some other treatment.

4. As an undergrad, your job is to not rock the boat. Your job is to learn the basics of your field. Don't try and write paradigm-changing papers that challenge the establishment. You'll end up doing a mediocre job, through not having enough grounding in the field to handle it properly. And get a mediocre grade, and probably a comment like "too ambitious". I refer you to my rule #1; Paraphrase. You can get Bs and As by collating the works of other people, putting their ideas in your own words while giving credit where needed, and then commenting intelligently on the signifigance of their views. Your papers aren't to prove fascinating new ideas in the field. They're to show you're developing a keen understanding of the field.


5. Like D. Lerious said, there's a lot to be said for showing up and participating. I managed the best grade my sociology teacher had ever had in her class, ever last year. Did I study like a madman? No. I read the book and my notes twice the day of the exam. I read the upcoming section of the book, so I knew what I didn't need to write down as notes, and went to class every day. And payed enough attention to answer questions. That's really all it took, and since it was a first year course, I'm certain the reason I got the 'best ever' grade was because I was showing up and treating it like a 3rd year course, rather than what all the other first-years were doing, which was slacking off and partying.


6. Perhaps my greatest lesson (for me myself, it's mileage so far as you folks go is up to you) is that College doesn't take smarts. It takes humility and work. The humility to recognize that you know nothing (and thus, the freedom to ask questions when you're confused), and the work to show up, take notes, and write the papers. Your papers don't have to be brilliant works of art; they just have to show that you've got a good working understanding of the field. Which takes work, not intelligence.

7. Perhaps the most important lesson (but not the greatest, because this one everyone will yell at you about until you learn it.) is this; Write Well. If you're "just not a grammar and spelling person", take English courses and become one. You might have a huge amount of understanding of the field, but unless you can express it properly, it's useless. This is true both for Science and Art majors. If you can at least write your papers well grammatically, your prof will be able to point out where your problems lie thematically. If your paper's an unreadable mess, he'll just give you a D or F and spend more time correcting your grammar than your thought processes. Heck, good writing can bump a paper a whole grade level. I speak from experience, having taken a friend's paper (a lab report we did, not a research paper, I was rewriting his copy that we'd both worked on.) and his version got a full grade less than my more grammatically polished one.

If you're trying for As, you need to be able to write well. And if you're slacking and trying to slide by, you can boost a C paper to a workable B just by writing it well. This is perhaps the easiest way to boost your grades with minimal effort there is.
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Old 06-19-04, 06:36 PM
davekazmdrummer davekazmdrummer is offline
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Just to add something. If you are taking an essay test or something that involves some sort of writing and you have NO IDEA what the answers are...didn't pay attention, didn't study, didn't read the book...what ever your reasoning, MAKE SOMETHING UP! I'm serious, if your class is huge sometimes the profs don't even read the papers. If its a small class, a completely wrong LONG answer will at least get you a 50% instead of a 0%. One time I had a philosophy course with a prof that was so old that not only could I not hear him from the front row, but he never involved anyone in class discussion...I fell asleep everyday from boredom...I showed up at the final with no clue about any of the questions on the test, I didn't even know who the people were that he asked me to compare philosophies...So I made up their philosophies and contrasted them. I got an A. What does that say for the system?
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Old 06-22-04, 06:30 AM
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Quote:
However, it's better to have a a bunch of *%^ written than nothing at all. At least you'll have something to work with
Ohhh yeah, that got me through the IB :-). Something I noticed while writing papers is that my best ideas would only come while I was writing so all my concentration gets focused. One of the reasons why I prefered writing in-class assignments than "homework" essays. In-class, I'm *forced* to think where-as at home I procrastinate like there's no tomorrow..
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Old 07-19-04, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam
Ohhh yeah, that got me through the IB :-). Something I noticed while writing papers is that my best ideas would only come while I was writing so all my concentration gets focused. One of the reasons why I prefered writing in-class assignments than "homework" essays. In-class, I'm *forced* to think where-as at home I procrastinate like there's no tomorrow..
I'm the exact same way. If I get an in-class writing assignment, I'm usually among the first done. And it's not low-quality work, my grades are consistently (now anyway, but that's another story) Bs and As. Same with exams, either essay or multiple choice, but moreso the short-answer and multiple choice ones. If it's an essay, it'll be 2 days before the 20 page paper is due and I'll be sitting at my computer playing Minesweeper screaming mentally at myself to click the little X in the corner and GET TO WORK. And still clicking away at those mines. True story from this last year, and what eventually got me looking for an answer to my 'quirks', which turned out to be classic AD/HD.
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Old 07-19-04, 03:39 PM
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I'm the opposite, I always preferred the homework essays because I hated being rushed in class to come up with something. However, of course I'm also easily distracted and a great procrastinator at home. So I've found that the best paper-writing guidelines for me are to:

1-Start a few days early if possible and just type whatever comes into my head without regard to order, coherence, or perfect grammar.
2-Then I rearrange it and edit it and add a few things until it sounds okay. That doesn't take long. Then I leave it alone.
3-A few days later I open the document and reread it and edit and tweak and adjust it until it sounds pretty good.
4-I let it rest for a few hours and then go back to it, reread and retweak again until it sounds great.
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Old 08-31-04, 10:27 AM
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Thank you all for the great writing tips! Where were you guys when I was in college struggling like mad to write papers?

I wanted to get a Masters in psychology, & not knowing I had ADD, I was too scared to go through all the procrastination and the vicious, stressful cyle it creates.

You guys have given me some hope. Thanks. This is what makes this forum so wonderful-advice from people who gave gone through it and really understand.
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Old 08-31-04, 10:40 PM
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lotsofconfusion lotsofconfusion is offline
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You guys are soooo right! Many helpful points were mentioned!
I absolutely hate writing papers. Its not because I find the material to be boring, in fact I've written quite a few interesting papers. Its just that I can NOT get thougts organized! My thoughts tend to fly faster than I can type and I loose track of the original points quickly. If there is an in-class writting assignment, I'm in trouble! By the time I've figured out what I want to say the time is almost up. I forget to add things, end up crossing out things, drawing arrows and in general, just making a mess! Then, I can never come up with the right wording or I jsut can't figure out the word I want to use! Very frustrating! I've been given permission to actually type out essay exams to help avoid this mess... and it works! My grades have improved with this accomdation. Organizing books and articles also add to the confusion! I can't keep track of where I've found info, loose the books, pages, etc. You wouldn't beleive the amount of sticky notes I go through! After all is said and done, the paper is handed in, and eventually returned, I find myself with a decent grade after all! humph, must be doing something right.... lol
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Old 09-01-04, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lotsofconfusion
You guys are soooo right! Many helpful points were mentioned!
Its just that I can NOT get thougts organized! My thoughts tend to fly faster than I can type and I loose track of the original points quickly.
hehe, same here. I did find a little trick that worked great for me in Social Anthropology. I was never good at making outlines (since I always got better ideas later on) so as soon as the essay began, I'd quickly write down all the theories and ethnographers I could think of on another piece of paper. Worked well for me because it let me cross out the things I -needed- to cover and since its more flexible than an outline, I could use more new-found ideas. Don't ask me how my essays always ended up being coherent, they just did
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Old 09-04-04, 03:55 AM
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Huh, thats a good idea. The only problem with taht is, a lot of my essays had a time limit. Otherwise, that would work pretty well! Similar to that is using the computer to type essays (one of the accomodations). I've done that with extended testing time and it allows me to add whatever I need to later on. Thanks.
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Old 09-11-04, 12:46 PM
RBurtsch RBurtsch is offline
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Thanks for all the great ideas! I'm a 32 year old, recently diagnosed, first year college student. I have really been struggling with myself over my own ways of working that I haven't been able to just get into my school work. I think these things will be of great value to me!
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Old 09-14-04, 11:31 PM
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Thank you everyone for the suggestions! Has anyone used the tutoring and other campus services for learning disabilities? Also do you really think I should tell my proffesser I have ADD?
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