As with any magazine article, the key to writing one for students is to pick a topic that will capture their interest, and thus is relevant to their situation.
In a nutshell, work, money and travel all fit the bill in this sense, but within each of these broad themes lie a wealth of more specific ideas on which you can expand. Whether you’re currently a student yourself, or it’s been years since you attended a lecture, a good starting point is to see if you can draw on your own experience as this will provide immediate material first-hand, and writing from a personal slant often proves more inspiring than a factual piece from a purely objective viewpoint. For example, there may be aspects of your job that you could talk about in terms of career advice for students eager to work in a similar profession. Have you recently been on a gap year and feel your experience might motivate others to pursue similar options? Or perhaps you have a host of top tips to offer on the best way to manage money?
Since many of these subjects are already well-covered in student literature, an original approach is vital to holding your readers’ attention. Through the importance they attach to the latest trends, students tire quickly of anything run-of-the-mill and that applies not just to what you are talking about but also how you say it. Especially if you are writing about a well-worn topic, steer clear of clichés and giving the impression that they have heard it all before. How about tackling your article from an unconventional perspective – talking about a summer job abroad by focusing on the relational and the benefits that can bring to bear on continuing studies, rather than merely the practical. Have you been responsible for hiring new recruits? In which case why not present your guidance on what makes a good CV in the very format of a CV? Considering the huge role played by instant, online communication in student life today, could you spice up your words of wisdom on simple ways to save money by telling them through a student’s weekly status updates on Facebook?
Remember that, in their spirit of independence, students ultimately want to make up their own minds. So no matter how clear-cut you wish your counsel to be, subtle assistance conveyed in an entertaining, natural manner will make a much more positive impression than an in-your-face here’s-how. Although the vast majority of students are in the 18-24 age bracket, the economic downturn is pushing up the numbers of mature students seeking a career change. This not only gives rise to new article ideas (juggling part-time studies, work and family for example), but also makes the tone of your writing all the more important. Avoid imbuing your message with a know-all or know-best attitude.
Your best source of inspiration – and approval for your idea – is today’s students themselves. Ask them what they’d like to read about, it’s a simple as that!
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Samantha Joy Pearce