The Best Free Resources for College Essays & Résumés

When it comes to producing original writing, there’s really no life hack you can lean on. Don’t get me wrong, giving your essay a whirl through your favorite grammar app can definitely keep simple mistakes at bay. Who among us hasn’t praised spellchecker? And, in the professional world, graphic designers have upped our style games by offering us visually stunning résumé templates. We’re pretty spoiled.

However, whether leaning on Adobe Illustrator or artificial intelligence, our best efforts haven’t replaced the ability to create compelling copy. Humans appear to have that market cornered—at least as of today. So, until you can tap your way out of a poorly-written corner, you might as well learn a few basics.

Here are a handful of free online resources you can use to strengthen your writing chops and draft better college essays and résumés.

Resource #1: Grammar Girl

If textbook explanations make your head spin, Grammar Girl is the instructional Dramamine you’ve been looking for. Combining a playful approach with a command of the English language, Mignon Fogarty delivers the goods on punctuation, grammar, and usage in concise, easy-to-follow articles. Whether unsettled by who vs. whom, affect vs. effect, or which vs. that, you can rest assured that this navigator sails through grammatical tides with a steady hand.

Resource #2: SUNY Empire State College Online Writing Center

Are you having trouble getting the old essay ball rolling? The SUNY Empire State College Writing Center could give you a much-needed (virtual) push in the right direction. Nicely outlined and easy to follow, the site’s section on the writing process provides some helpful insights into idea development, gathering information, shaping information, and building essay drafts.

Resource #3: The Harvard College Writing Center

The iconic Ivy League institution has assembled a concise, inviting overview of academic essay writing. With its sections on structure and thesis development, this free resource carefully keeps the beginner in mind, refraining from employing verbose explanations (like this one). Be sure to check out two of the site’s best pages: How To Do a Close Reading and Topic Sentences and Signposting.

Resource #4: The Purdue University Online Writing Lab

Published in 1995, the Purdue Owl has become the go-to online reference for English majors in need of late-night MLA style suggestions. This tutorial powerhouse also includes instructional materials on grammar, punctuation, citation and format styles, academic writing, and subject-specific writing. A must-see for any recent graduate, The Job Search Writing section offers advice on how to draft résumés, CVs, cover letters, and video résumés, too.

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Joseph NovinsonTyler R. Vunk is a scholarship and writing coach at Vested Academics. He is committed to helping students and families find scholarships and reduce their student loan debts.

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