Quick Tips #3: More On Research Papers

This is a continuation of Quick Tips #2:

–As with most writing projects, starting early is usually the best policy.  Many of us like to write our essays the night before they’re due; often, we still get good grades and only lose a few hours of sleep in return (many of us in the Writing Lab are just as guilty of doing this as the students we help).  But you don’t really gain anything from this, other than cheating fate for one more day.  Writing a paper and not learning anything from it is a waste of your time.  That’s part of your life that you purposely threw away to write junk, my friend.  You don’t get that time back.

And more importantly, cramming just sucks.  It’s nerve-racking, and it’s not fun, and wouldn’t you rather be playing Xbox instead?  So what do you do?  Start early.  Work on the paper 20-30 minutes each day for several weeks, rather than 5-10 hours the night before.

Have you ever seen those super students who are always prepared, always do their work, always get good grades, and always look so rested and on top of things?  Don’t you just hate them?  But it’s not hard to be like that.  You just have to be consistent with it.  Start papers early, and you’ll be less stressed when the deadlines get closer.  Review class materials for 15-20 minutes each day and you won’t have to cram before tests; you’ll even remember more years later, when you’re trying to explain it to your kids or someone else’s kids or to survivors who are trying to rebuild humankind’s vast body of knowledge after some future apocalypse (hypothetically speaking, of course).  I did this daily review thing for two weeks in college; those were the best, least stressful two weeks of my college career, and I still remember information about 8th century British literature (it haunts my dreams!).  Too bad I didn’t keep up the routine for the other four years of college  : (   Otherwise, I could have been working on a PhD by now.