In the workshop sessions she runs, she tries to explain that, in fact, writing is a small element in creating an essay. "Students can have an idea that it's a linear thing you do help essay writing degree level your reading, then you get a cup of tea and sit down to write.We try to get across that it's a much more cyclical process; do some research, draft a bit, read some more, think, consider what you've written, redraft. I'll explain that it's like that for academics, too after all, I don't just sit down one day and think, 'Right, I'll write a book!Some universities are now actively addressing the problem in individual faculties or by creating generic cross-subject courses delivered by their study skills departments. But some students resist the help on offer. "The English department here put on a compulsory module called 'Writing at degree level but dropped it because the students rebelled says Attlee.
"It seems to me there's a lack of interface between help with writing a rhetorical analysis essay A-levels and degrees, so the thing that people are required to do to get very good A-levels isn't equipping them to do what is required to get a degree.". Over the last year, part of Attlee's role has been to offer one-to-one sessions with students to help them develop the skills needed to complete a well-written assignment. "The absolutely common thing is they have no clue that there is a recipe for an academic essay. That can make life considerably easier for you if somebody bothers to tell you she says."Students can have no idea of the concept of making an argument so their essays are entirely descriptive. You know, 'and then this happens, and such-and- such an academic says this about it, and then this happens, and so-and-so says that'.". With the ability to think or write analytically "there's no end of the reading you can do she says. "And, at that point, students start to say they feel overwhelmed.".Kate Brooks, principal lecturer and student experience co-ordinator in the faculty of creative arts at the University of the West of England (UWE has carried out research into students' experience of the transition between school and university, and says that essay writing featured strongly. "One issue was time management do they start writing weeks before or the night before?" she says.
She believes the gap in her education was to blame but, according to some academics, many of the current crop of students gearing up to A-levels will feel exactly the same when they start university this autumn. Margi Rawlinson, academic skills co-ordinator at write my hometown essay Edge Hill University, says it is wrong to think that only so-called non-traditional students wrestle with writing essays."We have people with A-levels who are arriving poorly equipped for academic writing she says. "I think one of the issues at A-level is that they're not being taught to research independently, and with essays it's not just the writing that's only part.". At Worcester University, Helena Attlee, fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and writer in residence, agrees.
Many students struggle with the art of writing an essay, and study skills sessions are very popular. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian "When I came to write my first assignment, I cried says Daphne Elliston. "I just didn't know what I was doing.".Elliston graduated with a degree in health and social care from the Open University. Though she's hugely proud of her achievement, she says that in the early days she worked up to three hours a night for weeks on end to construct an essay she was happy to submit. "At the beginning, the most difficult online homework for 2nd grade thing was just understanding the academic words she says."Then putting my own words into academic language was hard. And it was difficult to believe I was entitled to my own opinion or to disagree with all these academics who'd done years of research.". Elliston started her degree after decades out of the education system, and with just one NVQ qualification to her name.