Top 10 College Writing Tools - laptop open

Top 10 College Writing Resources for Military Members

Everyone loves writing essays and research papers, right? Ever since you were younger, I’m sure you dreamed of enrolling in college and writing research papers and literary essays. Well, if you are like most students, this couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, as an adult student just starting college, it may have been a long time since you have attempted any academic writing. Even if you have been in school for a while, your writing may still need some improvement. There are many Department of Defense-sponsored programs, as well as other reliable resources, that can help you improve your reading comprehension, English grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills.

Here are some free, DoD-sponsored college writing tools you can use:

  1. Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) – OASC is designed to improve basic academic skills in math and English. For English, it uses a quick self-assessment to tailor learning modules that improve reading comprehension and vocabulary skills in areas where you may struggle. http://www.nelnetsolutions.com/DantesNet/
  1. College Placement Skills Training (CPST) – CPST has a similar registration process to OASC. It also uses a short test in order to create customized learning paths. However, CPST improves pre-college level skills in English, language arts, and essay writing. http://www.nelnetsolutions.com/DantesNet/
  1. Tutoring Services through Tutor.com – DoD has partnered with Tutor.com to offer unlimited, no cost tutoring sessions to military members anytime of the day or night. Expert tutors are available to assist with everything from planning or improving your essays and research papers to proofreading the final versions before turning in your assignment to be graded. http://tutor.com/military
  1. DoD MWR Libraries through Petersons – The DoD MWR Libraries offer this online resource for all military members and their families to help plan, prepare and achieve their education and career goals. For those who may need help preparing for college-level credit-by-examinations (CLEP and DSST exams), the site contains online, printable and portable practice tests, study guides, and e-books. http://www.nelnetsolutions.com/dodlibrary/
  1. Overdrive Digital Books sponsored by DoD – Through Service-specific digital media programs, military members have access to free audio and e-books. By typing “writing” in the search bar, you will find a variety of resources to improve writing skills in numerous topics. Each branch offers access through different sites:

In addition to DoD-sponsored resources, students have a variety of other options for getting help with improving their college writing skills:

  1. Campus/Virtual Writing Center – Each college or university offers their students help in the form of either a virtual and/or on-campus writing center. Often called the Writing Lab, students can visit their school’s website or ask an academic advisor for information on the writing center. Professional or peer tutors are usually available to assist students in planning, drafting, and editing written assignments
  1. Khan Academy – Popular for its numerous free, educational resources, Khan Academy offers pre college-level grammar, critical thinking, admissions essay writing, and SAT reading and writing prep. With a variety of interactive exercises and video demonstrations, students are able to learn at their own pace and improve a variety of skills as they progress through the courses.  https://www.khanacademy.org/ 
  1. Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) – Need help with citing sources and annotating references? The Purdue OWL includes free, online writing resources and instructional materials for general public consumption. The site houses resources to improve writing, researching, citing sources and formatting in popular styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.), subject-specific writing, job search writing, and writing if English is your second language.  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
  1. Writing Discipline’s Brief Guides – These guides offer introductions to the essential features of writing specifically for academic disciplines. Guides cover the basic conventions of writing in history, philosophy, English, and psychology.  http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/brief-guides-writing-disciplines
  1. edX – This is a non-profit, open-source organization that was founded and is governed by colleges and universities. It delivers free online courses and learning tools built by educators and technologists. The edX platform offers several English composition, research, and essay writing courses. https://www.edx.org/

Regardless of the tools you use, improving your writing skills before, during and after college can be a valuable experience that is applicable to multiple areas of your personal and professional development. Take some time to explore the tools and resources recommended above and share them with others who may benefit.

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Michelle Alexander

Graphics Designer/Editor at DANTES
Michelle Alexander is a native of Alabama and a retired Air Force Master Sergeant with 24 years of dedicated service. She is responsible for the DANTES Information Bulletin (DIB) monthly newsletter and all other Communication Division visuals. ROLL TIDE!