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Literary Essays and School Essays: What Is the Difference?

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You consistently told bedtime stories to your kids, hoping they would awaken their creativity and prepare them for the challenging assignments at school? Congratulations; your efforts were well worth it. However, creativity is not the only thing a student needs to succeed in essay writing. There’s structure and form they have to maintain.

How do you help them when they get stuck? The old-school reading technique always helps. You can read carefully-picked essays that are adequate for your kid’s age. If you’re dealing with a college student, you can recommend them to read some of the best essayists, such as Mark Twain, George Orwell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Virginia Woolf.

You’ll notice something strange: those essays have a completely different format and style than the school projects that students are required to complete. What’s the difference? The answer to this question will help you and your son/daughter understand how they can meet a professor’s expectations.

1.School Essays Are More Structured

Here is a good read for you: Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell. Pay attention to the structure. Yes, there is an introduction, conclusion, and body paragraphs in between. However, this essay doesn’t look anything like the one a student is supposed to write for school.

Literary essays have a free form. The author is free to explore their thoughts and observations, and present them in the best way they discover. The reader is not usually able to identify a clear thesis statement in the introduction.

A school essay, on the other hand, is very structured. It must contain an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, three body paragraphs with three arguments related to that statement, and a conclusion that brings all loose ends together. That’s why it’s called a 5-paragraph essay.

If the teacher did not explain the structure well and you’re too confused to understand it, you can always get help from an expert write at They will help the student organize the paper in a form acceptable for school standards.

2. School Essays Must Be Simpler

When you read literary essays, you might get the impression that the more complicated it is, the better it gets. Go ahead and read the first sentence of Emerson’s essay The Poet. You’ll notice it’s huge. Plus, the essay has weird words and phrases, such as esteemed umpires of taste. Great authors are allowed to do that. They have power over the words, so they never appear silly using the big ones.

Students, on the other hand, don’t have such advanced writing skills. That’s why school essays are meant to be simple. The teachers have no time or will to read a single sentence several times to make sure everything is fine with it. They prefer short, on-point sentences that give out the point without requiring effort on the reader’s part. If you’re helping your kids to complete essays for school, remind them to aim for clarity and simplicity.

3. The School Essay Is Shorter

What a relief! The school system does require students to write many essays, but they don’t have to match the length of Orwell’s or Emerson’s essays. The Poet, for example, is almost 9,000 words long. A school essay, on the other hand, is usually 500-words long.

That’s good news for students. However, in those 500 words, there’s no room for digressions. They have to connect each and every sentence with the main thesis statement. There’s no room for fillers and unnecessary adjectives. There’s no point in repeating the same idea. Every word counts, so they have to use it wisely.

4. School Essays Are Boring… Usually

What’s the biggest difference between a writer and a student working on an essay? The writer is never forced to do it. They love writing. Students, on the other hand, perceive essays as boring assignments with strict guidelines. As a parent, you have the power to change that. Inspire your son/daughter to read as much as possible, and explore their ideas in written form. The more they write, the more they will fall in love with the process.

School essays may be limiting to the student’s creativity, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Each topic has an unusual side they can explore. Each topic has many layers to unveil. Even such a rigid form of writing can unleash the student’s creativity.

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