Writing your first university essay can be a daunting task. After mastering high school’s five-paragraph essay, it’s disheartening when university grades fall short of your expectations. I understand this experience firsthand, receiving average grades for essays in my first year that would’ve scored higher before university. But don’t worry! The university provides abundant resources to help you write exceptional essays and boost your confidence.

U of T Writing website

On this website, you can find a collection of resources dedicated to the writing process which are available to U of T students and instructors. Unlike some of the other resources, these valuable writing tools are always accessible, providing continuous support as you progress in your educational journey.

One of the most helpful preliminary resources on this website tailored to the needs of first years learning how to write at the university level is the page titled, ‘The Transition from High School to University Writing.’ Here, you’ll find valuable insights regarding the different philosophies and approaches to writing in university compared to high school. This includes guidance in the general structure of essays, paragraph composition and structure, introductions and conclusions, thesis statements, constructing arguments, and effective presentation techniques.

This website also offers comprehensive writing advice that covers every stage of the assignment writing process. You’ll find valuable information on various aspects, including selecting essay topics, overcoming writer’s block, comprehending grading policies, all stages of essay planning, conducting effective research, utilizing sources, avoiding plagiarism, and the art of revision.

On its PDF Links for Students’ page, you'll discover a collection of downloadable and printable PDFs containing comprehensive advice throughout the website for your convenience. Additionally, there is another page of the website dedicated to a compilation of books that offer valuable insights into the workings of writing within academia, spanning various disciplines and subject areas.

Writing Centres

The University of Toronto has around fourteen writing centers across its three campuses, providing valuable services to U of T students, where instructors offer free individual consultations and group workshops. Whether you’re starting an assignment, you have an outline, or you’ve written a draft, instructors in one-on-one consultations are ready to guide and support you. For all students, this general link will lead to a Quercus login page students can use their UTORid to log in and access the writing centre booking page available to them. Be sure to book appointments early, since they tend to be booked quickly!

At the St. George campus, the Arts and Science department’s writing centers are primarily provided by individual colleges. If you’re enrolled in a program or course offered by one of the colleges, you can take your assignments to the respective college’s writing center. Specialized writing centres are also available to students enrolled in Rotman Commerce, French, or Philosophy programs. To book an appointment with the college writing centres, find the webpage associated with your college on the Arts & Sciences writing centres page and navigate to the section that offers online booking services.

For students at the Mississauga campus, the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre offers academic support including consultations, workshops, and programs to help develop the academic skills of students. You can book appointments for in-person or online consultations here. For those attending the Scarborough campus, the Centre for Teaching and Learning offers support in writing through one-on-one tutoring and writing retreats. Appointments for UTSC writing centres can be made through the general writing centre link, which can be found on the University of Toronto Writing Centres homepage, and redirects students to their respective writing centre, according to their college.

Writing Plus

Writing Plus is a series of free workshops available to the entire student body at U of T. Look out for the 2023–2024 schedule, which will contain a series of workshops on topics such as writing an essay from start to finish: understanding assignments, finding scholarly sources, developing a thesis, organizing an essay, using sources, and revision. It also offers workshops on practical grammar, and other essential writing skills like critical reading, sentence flow, and writing under pressure.

Learning Strategists

Connecting with a learning strategist can provide you with individualized support to develop strategies for active studying, time management, project management, and essay planning. You can also meet with other U of T students who serve as peer mentors for guidance regarding motivation and overcoming procrastination, setting goals, managing schedules, and navigating U of T’s structures and services.

The Assignment Planner

This resource breaks down the assignments into manageable steps based on the due date you’re working with. Simply input the date you intend to begin the assignment, the day that the assignment is due, and the type of assignment you are working on, and you will be provided with a schedule including each step and recommended date by which that step should be completed.

The Varsity

Getting involved with The Varsity as a writer or copy editor is a great way to develop your writing and editing skills. There is no interview process, and no formal experience is necessary. All that you must do is fill out the form available on their website under the “get involved” tab, indicating which sections you are interested in. Alongside developing these skills, this is a great opportunity to meet other students, learn about the world of journalism, and have your work published!