Find all of Emma Lenhart’s blog posts about the college experience and more on this page.

This blog post is meant to help you succeed in your college classes by sharing 25 essay writing tips to use as a college student. Grab your syllabus and laptop charger, it’s time to get writing!

College is different than high school in a lot of ways. The biggest difference I’ve seen, as a current college sophomore, is how college assigns “homework” and “tests.” In high school, it seemed that I completed a ton of pointless worksheets and projects. But in college, I’ve found that most of my assignments are centered around writing papers/an essay.

Writing papers isn’t just something used for homework, though. I’ve had classes that replace midterms or final exams with writing a paper. There are tons of different types of papers: response papers, reflection papers, research papers….the list goes on. Let’s get on with some helpful essay writing tips to get you an A on your next paper!

College Study Tips

25 Essay Writing Tips

Preparing to Write

I totally recommend taking some time to plan out your essay and outline it rather than just dive in. Doing this allows you to feel less overwhelmed by the entirety of the prompt and task at hand. We all know how daunting it can be to stare at a blank Word document for hours 😉

1. If at all possible, do not start writing your essay the night before it’s due. Your writing should be a process, and adding extra stress (like an approaching deadline) won’t help you.
2. Turn off all distractions when first approaching your essay. This means your phone + Netflix!
3. Seek out a writing center or writing lab on your campus. Many colleges provide this service to students without them even knowing about it!
4.Always make sure you completely understand the instructions/prompt. If you are unclear about anything, ask your professor/instructor in person or shoot them an email. Better safe than sorry!
5. Keep a copy of the prompt or essay instructions close by you at all times when writing your paper.
6. Refer back to the prompt when coming up with ideas for your paper, and ask yourself, “Is this information valuable and necessary to add?”
7. Outline your essay before you start writing it with bullet points. What must you include in your essay to cover the entire prompt?

Writing the First Draft

The work you put in during writing your first essay draft is what’s going to really count. Don’t get discouraged! You can do it 🙂

8. Make your introduction straight to the point. Adding unnecessary “fluff” (in most instances) distracts the reader from the purpose of the piece.
9. Your thesis statement should come in the first paragraph of the essay, and be as distinctive as possible. This signals to the reader what your main point, or argument, is.
10. Follow a consistent citation method if writing a research paper. Ask your professor if they prefer you to use a certain style.
11. Never copy a quote from an outside source without a citation! This puts you at risk of plagiarism and looks very unprofessional.
12. If you are going to be citing several sources, bookmark the website page so that you can easily find it when it comes time to write a bibliography. This will save time so you don’t have to search the Internet for your source all over again.
13. Develop your body paragraphs so that they constantly point back to your thesis and support your argument.
14. Conclude your essay by quickly reviewing what you aimed to accomplish in your essay by referring back to your thesis (introductory paragraph.)

Editing Your Work

Editing essays is something that is easily overlooked. Don’t be that person! You may have just written the best essay ever known to man, but if there are tons of grammar errors and spelling mistakes…it really doesn’t matter.

15. Have someone outside of your class/course read your essay. See if the topic makes sense to them after reading your essay. What can you further explain or define?
16. Read your essay aloud to yourself. Hearing the words you wrote will help you catch any grammatical errors or sentences that don’t make sense.
17.Attend your professor’s office hours and ask them to do a read-over of your work so far. This is sometimes not permitted (if it’s an exam or final), but a lot of the time, they will give you valuable advice. They are the ones that will be grading it, after all!
18. Vary your sentence structure.
19. Check and make sure that you are not switching in-between tenses in your writing. This can be confusing and cloud the essay.
20. Use Grammarly when editing your essay. This free application installs in your computer’s toolbar and will underline any mistakes, confused words, grammatical errors, etc. It’s truly a lifesaver!
Grammarly Writing Support
21. Use to quickly and correctly cite your sources. Export your citations and make sure they are listed in your bibliography in alphabetical order!

Finalizing + Submitting Your Essay

Once you’ve gotten to this step, most of the hard legwork of writing an essay is done. Whew! Finalizing your essay will allow you to double (and triple) check that you don’t have any unnecessary typos/mistakes. The difference between a student who gets an A- and one that gets an A+ is all determined in this final stage!

22. Add a cover page to your essay if necessary. (Ask your professor their preference.)
23.Double-check that you have added page numbers.
24. Add an original title to your essay. (Again, ask professor first.)
25. Submit your essay on time to avoid point deductions.

After all of that, give yourself a pat on the back! Writing a college essay is not easy, but it gets easier and more rhythmic with practice and diligence. What are your best essay writing tips?

Pssst! If you liked this post + learned new essay writing tips, I would love for you to share it with your friends. Sharing this post takes just a few seconds + helps with the growth of this blog. Click the blue social sharing buttons to the left or at the top of this page. Thank you!

*This post contains affiliate and referral links.*


Looking to start a blog? You’re in the right spot.

I’ve been blogging for over a year now, and let me tell you: it’s awesome. Blogging has changed my life for the better and allowed me to tap into doing what I am truly passionate about. However, I know how daunting it may seem to start a blog. I’m here to tell you it’s not as hard as you may think it is to start a blog! (I promise.)

This post is meant to be a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog of your own! I have followed these exact steps (through some trial and error), and swear by the process explained below.

Without further ado, let’s get you started on the journey of how to start a blog!

How to Start a Blog

How to Start a Blog in College

Side note: If you choose to use Hostgator, the hosting company that I recommend in this post (and have always used as a blogger), then I will receive a small commission. I have a coupon code for you to receive 45% OFF your order by using the code EMMA60. Purchasing a HostGator package through this post gives me a small reward for helping a new blogger find the awesomeness that is HostGator 😉  If you don’t want to use my code to receive 60% OFF, that’s fine and you can go directly to whichever website hosting you choose. 

Step 1: Hosting (Recieve 60% off your package!)

Hosting is perhaps the most vital part of how to start a blog. It’s a necessary step to take if you want to have your very own blog. It also allows you to have complete and total control of your website or blog, instead of just “running” a blog on someone else’s site (, If you want to protect your content against spam, hackers, and copyright, you need to get web hosting.

While there are tons of options between hosting programs, I truly believe that HostGator is the best. HostGator is the program that I use myself for, and I have experienced precisely 0 problems with my site since using HostGator.

I have a coupon code for you to receive 60% OFF your order by using the code EMMA60.

HostGator allows you to claim your own domain, create custom email addresses (like mine,, and more. Plus, HostGator has amazing customer support and they are always willing to work with their customers on any problems that may arrive.

If you choose to use HostGator for your domain + website hosting, use my coupon code EMMA60 to receive 60% off your order! 

Installing HostGator into Your Blog

  • Navigate to by clicking here. Select “Web Hosting” from the navigation bar at the top of the site. Here, you will find options for buying your web hosting (see picture below.) I pay for the Baby Plan every month, but pick the plan that seems to best fit your needs!
    Start a Blog HostGator Plans
  • After signing up for a HostGator account, log into your account and go to your CPanel (this is what HostGator refers to your Dashboard/Home Page as.)
  • Navigate to the Software/Services tab, and click “Quick Install.”
  • Locate “WordPress” under the column titled “Popular Installs.” Then, click Install WordPress.
  • Fill out the form that appears. This will include your site name (domain), Admin information, etc.
  • Click “Install WordPress” and watch the progress bar load!

Looking to get an easier start with HostGator?

You can skip everything above and get started with your HostGator account easily by clicking here and using my own personalized HostGator site!

Click here or on the photo below to get started with your 1-Click WordPress Installation. You also get a 45-day money-back guarantee when you sign up with HostGator (heck yeah!)

How to Start a Blog HostGator

Step 2: Design

Your WordPress blog will look pretty bare when you first log in. Don’t worry! It’s simple to pick a new theme and start blogging. The design of your blog is what will give readers their first impression of you, so you want to make sure things look pretty + professional!

How to Choose + Install a Theme

If you don’t want to spend any more money on your blog, I would recommend finding a free theme for your blog. There are lots of free options out there and it honestly just takes some trial and error to find something you like!

To find a theme:

  • Log into your WordPress site.
  • Navigate to “Appearance” in the left-hand column of your back-end. Then, click “Themes.” It should look like this (picture below.)

Start a Blog WordPress Themes

  • Click around and search until you find a theme that you like.
  • You can click “Live Preview” by hovering over the theme to preview what the theme would look like with your blog. This is temporary (picture below.)

Start a Blog WordPress Theme Live Preview

  • Once you find a theme you like, click “Activate.” This will install the theme into your blog!

Tip: to fine-tune your new theme, navigate to “Appearance” once again and click “Customize.” This will bring up a ton of different settings your specific theme has, which you can play around with until they reach your liking. This is how you change things like heading size/color, font type, adding a sidebar, etc.

Which theme do I use for

I personally use a paid theme for, called “Aruba Nights” by Pipdig Pipdig creates a ton of beautiful themes, made specifically for bloggers. I highly recommend these themes for those starting a blog!

Pages + Posts

Now that you have your blog’s theme selected, it’s time to add some content. This will vary, depending on what type of blogger you want to be. However, WordPress works the same for all of us.

WordPress works with things called “Pages” and “Posts.” These two things are what will help you populate your new blog with content.

Pages are static and will usually be displayed on a navigation or menu bar. My pages include “About Emma + Contact”, “Career”, “Lifestyle”, “Fashion”, “College” and “Ecourse.” You can find these pages on my main menu (the bar at the top of before you click on anything else.)

Posts are where you will actually write your separate blog posts, draft them, and finally, publish. Figuring out how to write a post may seem tricky at first, but it’s really very simple. After selecting “Posts” and “Add New” from the column on the left column in your WordPress account, you will see something that looks like this: (image below)

Start a Blog New Blog Post

Once you write out your post, you can select to either save it as a draft, preview the post, or publish it (image below.) You’ll also be able to see how your post is doing in terms of readability and SEO. This will be explained in more detail in the next “Plugins” section.

Start a Blog Publishing Options

Step 3: Plugins

Am I a nerd because I love talking about WordPress plugins? Maybe.

Plugins are the little accessories you can add to your WordPress blog to spruce it up and add more functionality. Plugins can involve anything from social media (Pinterest wall, Facebook Page Like Button) to email marketing (contact form, mailing list sign-up.) There is a huge marketplace of plugins, and I am constantly on the lookout for the next, new plugin I haven’t heard about yet to add to my site.

Top Recommended Plugins

To skip the learning curve, I’m listing out some of my favorite plugins that I recommend you add when starting a blog.

  • Better Click to Tweet. This plugin allows you to insert a “Tweet this” button into your blog post. This is an awesome feature to have for your readers so that they can share your post easily to their Twitter followers.
  • Disqus Comment System. This plugin is vital. Disqus is a program that seamlessly integrates with WordPress blogs and will replace the default commenting system. Disqus runs so much smoother, connects to Facebook, and looks a lot more professional (in my opinion.)
  • Yoast SEO. This is the best plugin for SEO that I have found so far. Pretty much all lifestyle bloggers out there use it or swear by it, too. Yoast will guide you when writing blog posts to help boost your SEO score and make sure your post is easily readable.
  • Lightweight Social Icons. This plugin allows you to display icons for your blog readers to click on and follow you on social media.
  • Instagram Slider Widget. Want to display your latest Instagram photos on your blog? This plugin is perfect for doing just that!

Once you install a new plugin, navigate to “Installed Plugins” under the “Plugins” category on the left-hand column in your WordPress account. Once you find your new plugin in the list, click “Activate.” Once your plugin is activated, it will appear blue in the list (image below.)

Start a Blog Plugin Activation

There are lots of other great plugins out there! Check out this guide for “26 Widgets to Dress Up Your WordPress Sidebar” by Mel of A Prettier Web here. 

And that’s it! You are now equipped to start a blog and have it be successful.

Have any other questions about how to start a blog? Feel free to email me or tweet me! I would love to answer them or give advice. Happy blogging 🙂

*This post does contain affiliate and referral links.*


The holidays are quickly approaching and you know what that means…it’s the most wonderful time of the year 😉 I know that college-aged girls can be hard to shop for sometimes, so I decided to compile a gift guide of some items I would love to receive (I’m a college sophomore).

Of course, the holidays are about so much more than giving and receiving gifts. I can’t wait to celebrate with family I haven’t seen in awhile, and give thanks for all 2016 has been!

But without further ado, let’s get into the gift guide!

Gifts for College Aged Girls

Holiday Gift Guide for a College-Aged Girl


Apartment decor is something that all college-aged girls love, but sometimes don’t want to spend their extra money on.

Get to know the girl you are buying for, and what her decor style is like. Does she like minimalistic, neutral colors? Or is she more free-spirited and bohemian?

My favorite idea for giving apartment decor as a gift is super cute throw pillows. They aren’t too expensive and add a fun touch to any room. Your college-aged girl will love getting a new piece to add to her decor. Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!

This fur pillow (pictured right) is only $10 and so fun! It’s the perfect gift for a secret Santa or friend gift exchange.

Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!

Another awesome gift idea for college age girls is candles. A lot of colleges don’t allow candles in dorms, so double check or make sure she has an apartment before you buy. One of my favorite scents is Volcano. They sell it at Anthropologie too and it smells too good. You can find it here.

Looking for a stocking stuffer? I really love firefly lights for apartment decor (pictured to the right). Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!They are super inexpensive (around $10), and add a pretty touch to any room.

If you haven’t found anything yet, I’ll picture some more of my favorite picks for apartment decor gifts below.



Looking to really impress? Check out my favorite duvets and bedding for this holiday season. Getting a fluffy new blanket or a clean new duvet is ideal for the home decor junkie.


Want the key to her heart? Buy her a Nespresso. Coffee = love.

Pretty pastel colored kitchenwares and monogrammed coffee mugs are a classic go-to for the holiday season. Anything for the kitchen is a great gift idea for the college-aged girl who is just starting to cook for herself.

Wall Art

A pretty mirror or tapestry spices up any apartment and isn’t too expensive. Check out my favorite picks from places like Urban Outfitters + more for the girl on your list!



Receiving a pretty pair of heels/booties for the holidays is the best. Obviously, before you buy shoes for someone make sure you know their exact size and whether they have wide/narrow feet. Also, if you are buying for them online, check the website’s/brand’s size guide to see if their shoes typically run small or large!

I’m seriously crushing over these Jeffrey Campbell booties with silver detailing. Black boots are a staple for winter and I think every girl deserves a pretty pair.Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!

Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!If the girl you are buying for prefers flats to heels or boots, check out these Steve Madden lace-up flats. These flats (pictured to the right) are super on-trend and perfect for everyday wear. Plus, they are rated almost 5 stars by over 70 people and seem to be very comfortable. Score!

Ugg slippers are very popular for the holiday season because they are so cozy and comfy. These slippers are right around $99 and make the perfect gift for really anyone on your list!



Tech gifts are getting more popular with each passing year. When buying tech gifts, make sure you know the model of the phone your college-aged girl has (iPhone 5? 6? Android?) before buying. Below is my tech gift guide for the holidays!

Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!This charging dock (pictured left) can charge several different types of iPhones, iPods/Tablets, and more. It’s the perfect gift for a college-aged girl who wants to keep all of her cords organized and keep her devices charged!

Another great idea is a record player. I personally love my record player Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!and receiving new vinyl albums to play for my friends. This  record player is under $40 and the perfect price point for a holiday gift!



If you are buying for a secret Santa, $25 is usually a good price point to stay under. I’ve come up with a small gift guide below for gifts that are all $25 or under!

Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!One of my go-to gifts for friends is a Soap & Glory gift set. The brand has the cutest packaging ever and the quality of the products is great. (You can find their products at Ulta/Walgreens, also.)

Another idea for a gift exchange is a rollerball perfume. This idea is great because you may not want to buy a full-sized perfume bottle for someone if you aren’t sure if they will love the scent. Rollerballs are so fun and a great way to test out different brands.Looking to buy a gift for a college age girl this holiday season? Check out Emma Lenhart's gift guide on the blog for tons of ideas for this Christmas/holiday season!

You can never go wrong with an Amazon gift card for the holidays. Gift cards are perfect if you don’t know the person you are buying for very well because they will get to pick out their own gift.


One super unique gift idea (that I would personally love to receive) is a subscription service called Candy Club.

Candy Club is an awesome brand that delivers premium candy to your door once a month.The candy is gourmet and arrives at doorsteps once a month in a pretty box with 3 different types of candy. I love this gift idea because it is reoccurring and every time the person receives their monthly box, they will think of you! Plus, it’s super personal while still remaining fun.

Thanks for checking out my 2016 gift guide! What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

*This post does contain affiliate and referral links.*


Deciding how to pick a college is extremely stressful. I still remember my senior year of high school, when I was frantically applying to schools, writing essays, and visiting campus’ nationwide. A huge part of my decision was whether to attend a traditional state school or a big city school.

In the end, I ended up choosing a city school, and now attend university in Chicago, IL! While I love the choice I ended up making, I wish I would’ve had someone to tell me the pros/cons of attending a city school beforehand. Without further ado, let’s explore how to pick a college.

How to Pick a College

How to Pick a College: Is a Big City Right for You?

The Good Things About College in a Big City

First, let’s talk about the good things that come along with attending a big city school. I could probably go on for hours because I love my school + big cities so much 😉

Fast + Fun Lifestyle

Living in a big city honestly never gets boring. There is never a time where I feel like there is nothing to do because I can always hop on the train/get an Uber and go downtown. Living in a city means that there is constantly concerts to attend, museums to visit, etc.


The diversity you get to experience when living in a big city is probably my most favorite part. Not only are people from all different walks of life, but also all different ages, etc. Attending college in a big city is like sharing your college experience with a million other people, all somewhat different than yourself. This is awesome, for me, because there are always new things to learn and new people to meet.


I really think that attending college in a big city like New York or Chicago is for a certain type of person. Because city schools have a lot of commuter students, the campus itself can sometimes feel dead. This sometimes forces me (and other students) to go back to our apartments, or “do our own thing.”

Basically, living in a city has made me feel like I am a lot more independent than other people my age. I don’t really see my university as my home base while in college, but just a place I go to attend classes.

Growth + Opportunities

Perhaps the most valuable part of attending school in a city is the multitude of opportunities, internships, mentors, and career choices available to you.

Almost everyone I know that attends my school has had at least one internship in their undergraduate years. Because you are in such a buzzing location, opportunities for your career + personal growth are constantly presenting themselves. There are also tons of creative and up-and-coming people/businesses in big cities, which I love!

The Bad Things About College in a Big City

Like anything, there are some downsides to attending school in a big city. It’s a give and take!

Not So Typical

I’m not even sure if I would consider this a negative or not, but attending college in a big city is going to be completely different than anything you ever imagined university to be. Nothing you have seen from movies/media growing up will really correlate to what attending a big city school is like.

For example, at my school at least, greek life (sororities and fraternities) are not big. A very small percentage of undergraduate students at my school are involved in greek life, where some state schools have a majority of students involved.

There is also no football team at my school, as I previously mentioned, so I don’t get to attend stereotypical college game-day parties or tailgates.

School Spirit

Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of pride about where I attend school. However, I feel like it’s a lot different than the “in your face” pride that I see at other schools. Because we don’t have huge sports teams, our school spirit is a little less apparent, and it can feel a little isolating at times. There is definitely still school spirit at city schools, but it is expressed in very different ways than more traditional schools.


I only lived in the dorms of my college for my freshman year. After that, it was apartment living for me. The truth is, a lot of universities cannot accommodate the large number of students that they attract because space is limited in big cities. Because of this, a lot of students live in apartments/houses throughout the city and have to commute to school.

Oh, how I miss my freshman days and being able to roll out of bed and be across campus in class 10 minutes later 🙂

Do you have any other tips on how to pick a college?