Putting It Together: Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay

One of the major transitions between high-school writing and college writing is learning to take advantage of a wider set of options for organizing an essay. Choosing the right structure is up to you and depends on the application of critical thinking skills to select the best fit for your purpose and audience.  As you work to move beyond the five-paragraph essay, keep the following points in mind:

  • College writers compose nuanced, original theses that are discovered, clarified, and refined throughout the writing process.
  • College writers allow the content of their writing to determine the structure.
  • College writers use an organic process that is recursive and emphasizes revision.
  • College writers use key sentences to establish a paragraph’s main point and situate the paragraph within the sequence of the argument.
  • College writers apply logic and structure to paragraphs in the revision stages.
  • College writers build introductions and conclusions recursively throughout the writing process.
  • College writers use introductions to orient their readers to the topic and conclusions to provide fresh perspectives.

Moving beyond the five-paragraph essay is a key component of becoming a successful college writer.