Dedman Scholars spend a considerable amount of time writing for their classes but also for their other academic and extracurricular activities. Some Scholars serve as writing fellows or mentors, others write for student magazines or other publications, and many perform significant writing in their internships or volunteering activities. The Scholars also know that the key to good writing is continuous effort: good writers are rarely born that way but instead become good because of practice and reflection on their own writing.
Below we have provided some resources to help you craft a strong essay for the competition but also to give you some guidance on more effective writing at the college level. These instructional resources cover a range of basic topics that serve as the foundation of strong essay writing, so we hope that you will consider using them to help improve your own entry in the competition.
Additionally, we hope that you use this competition to share yourself with us, but we also want you to be safe and healthy when sharing your story. This article offers a loving critique of using an essay such as this to share painful or traumatic experiences. An important quote from the article is “when at-risk students write about their pain and don’t get accepted, it could potentially devalue their pain, thus making the act of sharing mentally harmful.” The DDSP values the psychological safety of its students and that extends to you. Of course, you are free to write about what you wish, and we hope you share safely.
The University Writing Center (UWC) at UT Austin has provided all of these materials. The Department of Rhetoric and Writing at UT Austin directs the UWC, and highly-trained staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students support the center by working with students across the university to help them achieve their writing goals. The UWC sees thousands of students every year and is able to provide feedback on many aspects of writing and development of papers, theses, and even dissertations. For support on many more topics related to effective writing, you can visit the UWC website to browse their various free handouts.
You should also consider finding a writing style guide to help with various aspects of writing and word choice. Some popular general-purpose style guides include:
The Elements of Style (by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White)
Garner’s Modern American Usage (by Bryan A. Garner)
The Sense of Style (by Steven Pinker).
Many other writing guides exist, so you should find one that works best for you. For many newer writers, The Elements of Style is a great resource.
We hope that these resources serve you well both for the competition but also for writing your college entrance essays. If you join us here at UT Austin, or perhaps even as a Dedman Scholar, we hope that you will come to see the UWC as a great resource for your education throughout your time on campus.