Like most people, I have opinions and I like to share them. It’s not that I think I’m smarter or better than anyone else, but I like people to hear my point of view. I like it even better when they share it. For that reason, one of the best skills I learned in college was how to go about writing a persuasive essay. Essays are a huge part of getting a college degree. Some colleges make you write an essay just to get in to the school. Talk about the need to be persuasive! Almost every college starts you out with Freshman English where you learn the finer points of persuasive essay writing. It’s not just a degree requirement, it’s a life requirement.

The first step in writing a persuasive essay is to know what you are trying to get people to think or do. You are going to make a change in their thinking in some way. That’s a good thing because going to college is all about changing the way you think. Once you know what change you are trying to make, come up with a list of reasons why your idea is better or reasonable. I like to find reasons that aren’t just important to me, but are helpful to anyone. For example, if I want to write a persuasive essay on recycling, I don’t just talk about how I think it’s important. One of the first things I learned in college was that no one cares what I think is important. They care about what they think is important. Instead I would write about why it’s important to them not to waste the planet’s resources. Persuasion is always focused on the person you want to persuade.

The next step is to have support or back-up material for your view. Getting a college degree means you are working with high level thinking skills. It’s not enough to say, “Because I think so”. So do some research and find evidence, data, statistics or an expert to show your idea is valid and meaningful. You don’t have to be a specialist, but it’s good to have one on your side.

Finally, write your persuasive essay clearly and directly. State your position, give the reasons and back-up evidence you researched, and end with a conclusion that helps people wrap up the thought in a clear way. Remember, you start persuading the minute you get ready to go to college for a degree. You’ll still be persuading when you graduate.