Writing FAQs

Life Writing FAQs

People often underestimate the power of writing. Here are some situations where, if you took the time to write out what you were thinking, you might be better able to accomplish your goals...

If you are writing your parent(s) because you are stuck for cash, keeping your “audience” in mind is highly important. When you begin your letter, do NOT start off by just asking for the money, ask about them first. Take time to think about your audience and how they are doing, and what they have been up to. Make them feel appreciated, and let them know you are thinking about them. Next thing you want to realize is that your parent(s) usually want what is best for you, so in bringing up your financial situation, try to help them understand how this money will help you. Be honest, tell them that you are trying to be responsible with your money, but after a week of working hard at school, you need a little break. Try to show them that your money is helping you meet people, and helping you feel comfortable away from home. I would also suggest giving some examples of where that money is going. Really try to highlight that you recognize the value of money, and that you are not wasting it on unnecessary things. Let them know that when you use the money, it is being invested wisely. Stay away from false promises- they can come back to haunt you. Don’t tell them that this will be the last time you ask them for money—because next month when you go to ask them for money again, they will use this against you. Lastly, you want to recognize, that in the simple act of writing them, and taking the time to write out your request for more money, it is showing your parents that you are actually thinking about what you are saying. This will help build your persona as a responsible and caring person.

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2. I was late for class again, and did not read the parking regulation signs. When I got back to my car, sure enough I had a ticket. Is there any way I can write myself out of this ticket?

Parking and mass transit services on campus are really big on stating that their rules “ are in effect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including legal holidays.” So, to begin with, I would NOT tell them that you thought their rules were not in effect. Also, at the beginning of the year, with your parking pass, they hand out a sheet with exactly where you can and cannot park. They repeat the hours that their rules are in effect and hand out this sheet so that parking violations won’t happen, but more importantly they do this so that when people are writing them to repeal a parking violation—they can’t say “I didn’t know” or “You didn’t tell me I could park there.” Okay, so you’re not going to be that person who says “you didn’t know the rules.” Instead, acknowledge that you know they do these two things. Acknowledge that you understand they try to keep parking and mass transit in order, and you break this order by you not following the regulations. Really try to highlight that you understand what they do on campus, and that you know they do try hard to avoid these violations, but you made a mistake, and you’re sorry. Apologize for not being complicit with their rules and regulations.

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3. Once again I put my paper off until the last minute. I know I can do a much better job on it if I just had a little more time to work on it, but how do I write my Professor to ask for an extension?

Here is another situation where you want to keep your audience in mind. Professors were students once too, and they know that work can sometimes unexpectedly pile up. So, to being with, when you e-mail your Professors—even if you have E-mailed them before—make sure that you explicitly state your name, the class you are in, and the assignment you are referring too. BE CLEAR. You do not want your professor to open up an E-mail and get frustrated trying to figure out what you are talking about. This will make them far less likely to give you that extension. After you have introduced yourself, give them information on what you HAVE done with the project. Let them know that you HAVE given it consideration, and that you have not completely forgotten about it. Tell them where you are expecting to go, or a question that you are trying to figure out, and then make it clear that if you are given an extension you will be able to really do this paper full justice. Also, make sure you go over and READ WHAT YOU WROTE. Do you really think a professor is going to give you an extension if your writing doesn’t make any sense, or you have spelling mistakes throughout the E-mail? Before you hit that send button, read over the E-mail at least three times to make sure that they will understand what you are asking.

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4. I need to get this grant/scholarship to help me pay for college. Is there any way you can help me write my essay more persuasively?

Well, each grant/scholarship can be persuasive in different ways. First, I would suggest reading over your essay slowly and see what seems shallow or cliché to you. You do not want to be too vague on things you have done. When you make claims about why you deserve the scholarship, back them up…. DO NOT make the assumption that the reader will understand why you deserve the scholarship. Expand as much as possible you’re your most important features. Also, don’t try and come across super human. An essay is much more persuasive when you admit your flaws (not too much), but enough to show that although you have many positive attributes, you have things you need to work on as well. You can underscore the things that make you highly eligible for the grant/scholarship by showing that your attitude, which has gotten you this far, can help you improve in areas x,y, or z. Another helpful hint is to keep in mind that your audience is reading tons of papers, so yours could be more persuasive if you do not conform to the standard formats of grant/scholarship essays. Try to shake up your essay to make it more lively and unique.

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5. Key Words to Use When Trying to Get Out of Trouble

Acknowledge Accepting Accountable Admit
Actively Try to Appropriate Apologize Aware of
Carefully Circumstances Community Conscious Effort
Consequence Co-operative Expectations Guidelines
Honest/Dishonesty Impact Important Integrity
Liable Manners Mature Realize
Recognize Responsibility Re-evaluate Regulations
Rules Role Model Repercussions Safety
Standards Value Understand Uphold

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