Term Paper Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Unless you’re a college student.

As good ol’ Cannivo fills with Marist students of all grades and majors, we are joined together by the greatest college bonding experience there is: stress and procrastination. While we’d all love to focus exclusively on the beautifully frosting windows and our steaming cups of hot chocolate from Library Brew, we know the 10-page term paper that’s worth 40% of your grade is a slightly more pressing matter. Here are some tips to keep you on track and earn that A!


The most important part of any paper is coherency. Personally, I find that in these long and complicated term papers, I often lose my way. In order to not get lost in the twists and turns of my argument, I use the the bullet system in Google Docs. By doing this, you are able to organize your thoughts in an appropriate order. Having your supporting thoughts directly under the point it relates to is especially helpful for the visual/spacial learner. You can see which aspects of your argument need to be fleshed out, and which may be overpowering your other points.

Single vs Double Spacing

Most of your papers will be the classic 12pt Times New Roman double-spaced. This is a double-edged sword; while you can take up more space by writing less, it also interrupts the flow of writing for some students. I can’t explain why, but something about a significant space between one line and the next makes me forget how they’re even related. The most satisfying part of your night will be double spacing your 3 pages and watching it transform into the 6 page minimum.

The Perfect Playlist

The big one. What makes a perfect study playlist? The truth is it varies from person to person. For me, I’ve always studied best with the classic neverending Lo-Fi Studying Beats playlist on YouTube. Many do best with an instrumental-based track so there are no vocals to distract you, like this one from 8tracks. However, contrary to popular belief, instrumental or classical music is not the be-all end-all of studying music. My friend swears by this early ’00s jams playlist on Spotify to get him pumped for his essay. Nothing screams academic motivation like Hannah Montanna.

Writing Center

One of Marist’s most valuable resources for students is the Writing Center. Located on the third floor of the library, it is staffed by faculty and student tutors who are there to help your essay along and proofread what you have. Sometimes it helps to just talk it through with someone. I once went to the Writing Center for a total of seven minutes; when I sat down and actually tried to explain my essay, I understood my own problem and wrote the rest of the paper with relative ease.

Contact with Professor

Though it may not feel like when it’s 10pm and you’re editing your outline when you’d rather be doing anything else, your professors are there to help you. If you’ve hit a road block with a project, the professor who assigned it is probably your best bet for help. Not only will they appreciate the communication, but they will sometimes provide direct assistance. Some teachers will provide deadline extensions, while others will break down the subject for you and provide notes based on your misunderstandings. Check back to your syllabus to get your professor’s contact info; don’t be shy!

Location, Location, Location!

Of all the things I love about Marist, the variety of comfy study spaces is perhaps my favorite. The James A. Cannivo is an environment cultivated for academic work. The huge windows let in the winter light, and the spacious desks help you feel de-cluttered (even if your backpack would say otherwise.) There are many sections of the library; some are more condusive to group work, while others are great for a solo study session. And when you need a break, you can head right over to Library Brew for a quick pick-me-up. However, if you decide the Cannivo just isn’t your cup of tea, the neighboring Hancock lounge is perfect to curl up in a comfy chair and study without interruption.

April 19, 2018 – Amelia Morel ’21 and Harrison Parette ’21 studying at the Hancock Center. Photo by Carlo de Jesus / Marist College

About Marist

Located on the banks of the historic Hudson River and at its Florence, Italy branch campus, Marist College is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts. Marist is consistently recognized for excellence by The Princeton Review (Colleges That Create Futures and The Best 384 Colleges), U.S. News & World Report (8th Best Regional University/North), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (“Best College Values”), and others. Marist educates approximately 5,000 traditional-age undergraduate students and 1,400 adult and graduate students in 47 undergraduate majors and numerous graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees.

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