Writing College Papers

Writing college papers is normally quite challenging to high school graduates. This is because moving from high school to college is equitable to the ‘caterpillar-butterfly’ transition that normally yields a completely new experience for students. The biggest change that a first-year college student experiences is the higher complexity of education provided in colleges.

Many first-year students find it challenging to write term papers or essays as part of their assignments. College level writing is different from high school essay writing. Expectations for college papers are normally higher than high school coursework.

Writing college papers vs high school papers

There are four elements that differentiate college level writing from high school writing. These are – Structure, Argument, Format and Research.


High school students normally write essays in a 5-paragraph format. This approach is applicable in different forms of writing. However, college writing employs a flexible structure. College students do not have to adhere to paragraph limitations. They can use alternative structures and explore numerous strategies as they write their papers.

Formatting college papers

The writing format applied college essays is different from high school papers. College papers mostly follow a format comprising standard margins, double spacing, and typed text. The text font is either Arial or Times New Roman, and 12-point in size. The format of college papers also varies from one professor to another. However, it is worth noting that college papers often do not include cover pages. College papers have to be professional to the core. Thus, they lack folders and binders unlike high school assignments.

High school papers require the inclusion of a thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. However, the placement of a thesis statement in college writing completely depends on the thesis.

Conducting research while writing a college paper

The final factor that differentiates college writing from high school writing is the research process. High school students can get information and sources from different search engines and use them in their essays. However, college papers have to be written on the basis of arguments backed up by irrefutable evidence. Consequently, source materials used in college papers must be scholarly and, preferably, peer-reviewed.

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