As I noted a few weeks ago in “Good, Bad, and Other Advice,” the EphBlog archives are brimming with Advice to Undergraduates, advice that is more specific to Williams College than what you find in the pages of the New York Times.

Actually, some of it is what you find in the pages of the Times — at least, when it’s written by Ephs. Here’s the late James MacGregor Burns ’39, from 2009:

Try to read a good newspaper every day — at bedtime or at breakfast or when you take a break in the afternoon. If you are interested in art, literature or music, widen your horizons by poring over the science section. In the mood for spicy scandals? Read the business pages. Want to impress your poli sci prof? Read columnists.

Burns in 2011, as featured at the

Burns in 2011, as featured at the FDR Library Tumblr

Burns continued:

[A] great newspaper will teach you how to write: most articles are models of clarity and substance — with no academic jargon! Pay attention to the writer’s vocabulary, see how many active verbs are used, file away striking new words for future use. Study how articles are structured — how the first paragraph tells the reader simply and clearly the subject and main points. Take a look at the last paragraph; it will often show you how to conclude an essay with a pithy phrase or a telling quotation.

Read the whole thing.

Of course, with a dwindling number of good newspapers in circulation — and the 2013 closure of the Williams Newsroom, a longtime fixture on Spring Street, this is harder than it used to be.

More advice to undergraduates from the EphBlog archives still to come.

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