Understanding the meaning of the term paper
In high school, you took a lot of tests. In every class you were required to take regular quizzes and exams during your academic year. At the end of the year, in some states, you had to take a statewide examination to test your knowledge on the topic. Occasionally, you were asked to write a longer essay, or book report. This was how you experienced learning. That all changed when you went to college. Your college courses are more concentrated on the subject matter. The classrooms are dedicated to lectures about the topics, making you take copious amounts of notes based on what your professor is speaking about on any given day. In some classes you might receive quizzes on a regular basis, but for the majority of your courses, your grade will depend on a midterm and a final exam, along with a term paper.
The term paper
The term paper is a written piece of work that must be submitted to your professor at the end of the semester, or term. This paper can be on a person, place, event or occurrence. It is usually assigned early in the term to allow for an adequate time to absorb the teaching methods of the professor, as well as the material presented in class. It usually is a long written work on one topic and can answer questions raised, or summarize issues from the course.
Completing your term paper
The term paper is usually a large part of your final grade for the class. As such, you want to produce a paper of the highest quality possible based on your limited knowledge and experience. A term paper is not an opinionated editorial on a subject; it is a well researched, well articulated, set of logical assumptions and deductions based on solid facts and evidence. It will take you the entire term to arrive at a place in your mind where you are comfortable writing such a term paper. If there is anything about the assignment that is unclear, ask your professor as many questions as necessary to get clarification. Your term paper will be the culmination of your learning in that particular class, so you want to incorporate as much information from the actual lectures and materials as you can into your writing.
In college, you will be presented with few opportunities to showcase your academic strengths. A term paper is one of those moments.