This Summer’s Secret to Essay-Writing Motivation

Would you write an essay if you were offered hundreds of dollars?

If You’re like me, you find essay-writing tedious and agonizing. I spend more time avoiding an essay than writing it (I became so proficient at this, it prompted Essay Avoidance: The Fine Art of Procrastination, my first article for The Voice Magazine.) My loathing for essay-writing is even more astonishing when you consider that I actually like writing. Just not essays.

Writing essays for grades is one thing, but what if you could write an essay and earn one free AU course? You can, if You’re the winner of the Write Site?s 10th Anniversary Academic Essay Contest. How’s that for motivation?

Athabasca University’s Write Site is a resource-rich service for students. The Write Site itself offers many writing tools to assist students with academic writing: writing guides, drills and exercises, and tutorials, for example. Staff at the Write Site can also give you feedback and coaching on your writing before you submit it for grades.

In celebration of 10 years of serving AU students, the Write Site is holding an Academic Essay Writing Contest in conjunction with the Faculty of Business and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Details were forwarded to AUSU early in July and should be posted on the Write Site soon. Currently, you can find them in the faculty of business website. Here is a summary to get you started.

The prizes. Let’s start with the good stuff, to get you motivated! There are two prizes of one paid AU course each. One will be awarded to the winning entry from an undergraduate student, and the other to the winning entry from a graduate student. One runner up in each category (grad or undergrad) will receive a certificate of honourable mention.

Who can enter. Any student registered at AU. One entry per student.

What you have to write. An essay on a topic of academic interest, written in traditional essay format complete with an introduction and a conclusion. You can write an essay just for the contest, but you are permitted to enter an essay that you previously submitted for marks in a course. (Hint: check the comments you received from your tutor on a marked essay and make appropriate revisions before using the essay for the contest.) For undergrad students, the essay should be 800 to 1000 words; for graduate students, 1000 to 1500 words.

How to enter. Send your essay to the Write Site Coordinator, Linda McCloud-Bondoc by e-mail at lbondoc@athabascau.ca. Entries must be received no later than midnight, September 1, 2015. In the e-mail’s subject line, indicate “Write Site 10th Anniversary Contest” and the category you are entering (“undergraduate” or “graduate”; you may not enter both.) Include your essay as an attachment, and put your AU student number in the body of the e-mail. Any missing information will disqualify your entry.

Judging. Just like a real essay, submissions to this contest will be “judged on choice and originality of topic, clarity of expression and thinking, thesis development, organization of ideas, essay structure and style, and adherence to grammar and punctuation conventions.” Winners will be notified by September 30, 2015.

It’s not often that students can get a tangible, valuable reward for writing an essay. Perhaps this time you can. With a free AU course up for grabs, it almost pays you to write an essay. For the winning undergraduate entry, the value is almost a dollar per word.

September 1 is coming up quickly, so dust off one of your better essays, or get started on a new one. don’t forget to visit the Write Site for essay-writing tips. The Write Site’s 10th Anniversary Essay Contest might just be the best motivation you’ll ever find for writing an essay.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.

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