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PELT College Writing: Casual Essay

Resources on College Writing for PELT students.

Recommended databases

Start here

Use the Book & Media Catalog to find print books and e-books.

Some tips:

  • Use one or two main words to find your topic.
  • When you've found a book, click AVAILABILITY to see where the book is located.
  • To read e-books off-campus, you'll need your 7 digit college ID.
  • Frustrated or stuck? Ask a librarian for help!

Evaluate Sources

How to fact-check online information (video)

Search tips

General search tips

  • Search with keywords, not sentences:
    • Full sentence: How does cost of living and housing affect rates of homelessness?
    • Major concepts: "cost of living" and homelessness
    • Be flexible about search terms. Think of synonyms and related terms you can try if your initial search strategy doesn't produce the results you want. You may need to use different terms for different databases.


Write an essay offering your educated theory on the main cause(s) of homelessness. Some terms to try:

  • Homelessness
  • Unemployment
  • Affordable housing
  • Housing first (approach)
  • Mental illness/health
  • Healthcare
  • Domestic violence
  • LGBT youth

Tip: Consider adding a second search term if you want to narrow your focus. Homelessness and "mental illness"

Selected articles

Mass School Shootings in 2020

Write an essay offering your educated theory on why mass school shootings are down so much in 2020.

  • School shootings and 2020 pandemic
  • School shooting rates
  • School safety
  • Prevention
  • School violence
  • Gun control / Firearm ownership

Tip: You will likely need to rely on news sources rather than scholarly articles, since this is a current issue. But you can incorporate historical aspects of mass school shootings to provide context for your argument.

Selected articles

Crime in 2020

Write an essay offering your educated theory on why crime is up in 2020.

  • Crime and pandemic
  • Crime rates and 2020
  • Homicide
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Coronavirus and crime

Tip: Consider limiting to a particular type of crime, such as homicide or intimate partner violence.

Selected articles