Tips for Writing College Essays: Literary Analysis

Writers block. Talk about the number one time waster when it comes to studying and assignment completion in college. And let’s be realistic here, it isn’t just WRITER’S block, it is really PROJECT CREATOR’S block. Whether we are writing a paper, creating a PowerPoint presentation, a short video production, a website, or any time of major project in an English course, we eventually hit that brick wall of saying “what do I do next?”

Well, if you are participating in any sort of English class, whether it is literature, critical theory… etc. there is a good chance that you will run out of the creative juices at some point. The problem is that it can sometimes take FOREVER to get back in track, when you really just want to get the project done fast. So here’s a quick set of steps you can take to get the creative ideas flowing again.

Consider the Big Picture

Just ask yourself the following question about the (literary analysis) topic you chose to write about.

What are the primary themes or big ideas that are represented in the text(s) I’m concerned with?

Simple, right? If you have narrowed the focus of your paper well enough, you hopefully don’t have more than three of these. And those three should honestly be bridging up to an even bigger, singular idea. Anyway, take those ideas or that idea and take the next simple step.

Symbol Identification

English classes, and especially literature courses, are largely representing philosophy and world views (culture) through metaphor. This means that you can have a lot of creativity in your interpretation of a text. And you really can’t be wrong, as long as you make a compelling argument for it. But here’s the key to overcoming that writer’s block…

Symbols are a KEY metaphorical tool of authors!

So, simply pick out some symbol – whether it is a character, a description, an item… etc. – that helps explain the text’s or texts’ attitude toward that big idea. Now you can get into an elaboration of a particular symbol and big idea within your writing. At this point, find a few quotes surrounding that symbol that help back up your position, and you’ve just crunched out another 250+ words in your paper. Also, add your own elaborations after each quote to explain how the quotes prove your argument.

Not only is this a great way to add some more description and elements to your paper, this same process can be used as a way to create your thesis statement:

– Just look for the big ideas,

-Find a symbol (or a few) that make a statement about that big idea,

-Then argue that the symbol represents your author’s viewpoint on the big idea.

-Or maybe the author is satirizing that viewpoint. Use your own discretion here.

20 Tips For Applying For College Scholarships

As seniors begin to celebrate their final year in high school, their thoughts quickly race to senior prom, senior pictures and grad night. However, it is just as important that they focus some of their energy into applying for college scholarships.

It is estimated that more than 9 million students receive grants or loans from the Department of Education each year. Despite the $83 billion that they will award this year, students and families must look at additional options to help pay for college including scholarships. Below are 20 helpful tips to begin the process.

APPLICATION PACKETS:

1. Request packets in advance.

2. Make copies of the packet information in the event you make anY errors and need to redo the
application.

3. Type your application packet.

4. If you do not have a typewriter consider having the document scanned and put on a disk.

5. Print your information on the application (only as a last resort).

6. Have your application reviewed for typos and clarity.

APPLICATION DEADLINES:

7. Send out the application a week before the application deadline.

8. Keep a copy of the completed application for your records.

9. If the packet needs to be received within a few days considering sending it overnight.

10. Do NOT send your application late, it reflects poorly on your organizational skills and ability to meet deadlines.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION:

11. Request letters of recommendation well in advance of deadline.

12. Request letters from individuals that can speak to your accomplishments.

13. A generic letter is worse than having a missing letter.

14. Provide your writers with prepaid postage envelopes.

15. Provide your writers with a resume or brief portfolio of your accomplishments and activities.

16. Follow-up with your writers to be sure that your letters of recommendation have been
mailed.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES:

17. Include all extracurricular activities during high school.

18. Include activities that occur sporadically.

19. Service activities are necessary to be competitive.

20. Activities that demonstrate leadership qualities are also important.

FREE SCHOLARSHIP DATABASES

FinAid: The SmartStudentTM Guide to Financial Aid

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Tips for Finding Spanish Speaking Lessons Online

There are, of course, several different ways to learn a language but these days the world is a smaller place and one of the advantages of this is that we can can learn to speak a chosen language from the comfort of our own home or even office. Maybe a suitable Spanish tutor is not available in your area. If that is the case for you, read these tips for finding Spanish speaking lessons online.

OK, so let us say you have decided to learn Spanish online. You have chosen this route as opposed to going to night school because perhaps you work during the day, or you are a little shy of speaking up in front of a class of other people, or maybe it is difficult for you to travel for any number of reasons.

Yet, within you there is that burning desire to learn the Spanish language and it’s difficult to do it on your own with just a book. Can you motivate yourself sufficiently? What about a bunch of expensive audio files, such as CDs? Would that do the trick? But, maybe, like many students you need interaction, personal encouragement and someone who cares.

One solution to these quandaries is to get a personal online tutor. This is a convenient way to learn to speak Spanish, and also gives you privacy. The aim of that tutor should only be to assist you in the best way possible to reach your objective: to speak, understand and write good Spanish.

But – and here’s the question – how do you find that tutor? The one who is going to help you along your exciting journey.

Remember at school how there was at least one teacher who drove you to snoozing away the lesson at the back of the class? There were two in my case: the history teacher and the geography teacher – and were they dull! Conversely, several years later (and 20 years ago now), I went to an evening class for six sessions on Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The tutor arrived late and we were becoming restless but as he threw down his briefcase and took off his jacket, he started quoting with passion and we were captivated.

So, this is point 1 – look for an online Spanish tutor who appears able to breathe life into the language. Spanish is a beautiful language and with it comes a fascinating history of Spain, of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking world in general.

Point 2 – Look for a tutor in Spanish who has plenty of experience. Knowing a subject and teaching it are two different things. So check credentials, such as testimonials, where you can. Ask around: recommendations and word of mouth are important.

Point 3 – Pay attention to cost. Too cheap and it may be a waste of money. Too pricey and you may be getting stung. Check out standard hourly charges for your area or country. Are discounts available for multiple lessons or lessons booked in advance? Is there any follow up between lessons, such as homework?

Point 4 – Are you looking to learn Spanish for a particular reason: business, pleasure, travel, personal? Ensure you locate a tutor who is prepared to be flexible and tailor the lessons to suit your interests and level.

Point 5 – Find the right tutor and you will learn fast! No time for snoozing at the back of the classroom. That is not what you, or your company, is paying for.

Point 6 – Work hard! Languages cannot be learned in six weeks but you will be on your way…

Career Guidance Tips For Teachers

It may seem like a long time ago since you took up that one subject in Guidance and Counseling in college but waver not! There’s no need to take a refresher course for you to effectively guide your students towards the most rewarding career paths for them.

  1. Be an example of happiness and contentment. The only competition that can give financial rewards a run for its money is happiness. Remind your students everyday that career is not an issue of immediate monetary returns but of enduring returns. Seeing you smiling despite the stress of your work (and the delayed salary if you will) will inspire them to choose careers they will enjoy in the long run. It will also show them how, even if industry demands change, who they are and what gives them joy will remain rock-steady.
  2. Encourage self-reflection and self-discovery. With all the diversions and recreation students have, taking time off to think and reflect might be the last thing on their to-do list. You can help them by giving them a few minutes at homeroom to ponder on some questions like: “What do I like best about myself?” or “What do I want to do for the next five years?” If this seems too serious, use games like Icebreaker or Query.
  3. Let them express their plans and dreams. Many students, when asked what they want to do in life, just shrug and say, “I don’t know.” Perhaps they don’t, perhaps they do but haven’t really thought about it. Allowing them to express their dreams-no matter how far-out-promotes the value of thinking ahead and the skill of planning. Ask them to create an image of who they will be ten years from now and to write about what they have accomplished within ten years. This way, it will seem like they have already achieved what they desire.
  4. Commend a student’s strengths to him and to his peers. Giving praise where it is due certainly makes a difference. Notice the smallest victories in any field or aspect of life. Did someone submit an exceptional drawing or essay? Made friends with everyone? Fixed a broken chair? Receiving positive remarks about his/her output or attitude boosts self-esteem and encourages a student to pursue his/her best attributes. Making a student’s peers see your sign of approval makes them appreciate the person’s worth, creating a community where students are not forced to see academics as the only standard of worth.
  5. Introduce them to a variety of successful people. Provide them with role models of passion and good career choice, be it a college graduate or a high school dropout. It is common fare for students to meet college graduate bigwigs in their lessons. There are many of them after all as if to prove that college is the only way out of poverty. What is difficult is to convince people that college is not for everyone and is not the only option. If you namedrop successful celebrities and tycoons who didn’t go to college, they just might rethink the entire thing.
  6. Talk about a student’s best qualities and possible options to his/her parents. Hearing of their child’s passion and perseverance in something never fails to make parents proud of their children. Hearing of the best qualities of their child from a teacher enhances their understanding of their child and makes them more open to options other than theirs. Inform them of possibilities for their child and emphasize long-term rewards over immediate gains. For those students who are not apt for college education, dwell on the positive traits of the student so that parents will see the benefits of alternative options like technical-vocational careers.
  7. Organize a simple education and career directory. Because of the unavailability of organized information on education and career options, make a simple one for your homeroom class. You can put a simple list of college courses and technical-vocational specializations and their corresponding job or industry requirements. At the bottom of the list, include contact numbers for some colleges or universities and institutions that offer technical-vocational programs. You may also include local bureau or government agency hotlines.