How To Master The Necessary Academic Writing Skills | Education

Everyone is a writer, according to the National Council of Teachers of English. And that’s a good thing, considering the ability to write is an essential skill in many professions.

“There really is no escape from writing,” says Allison Kranek, director of the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing at The Ohio State University. “Engineers still have to write. Businessmen still have to write. Doctors and lawyers still have to write.”

And while some students may dread the idea of ​​making plans for their papers or visiting a writing lab, they should understand that mastering writing skills is necessary in college and can pay off in the long run. In a 2020 survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 90% of employers rated the ability to communicate in writing as a “somewhat important” or “very important” skill.

“People who don’t write well work for those who do,” Harry Denny, an English professor and director of the writing lab at Purdue University in Indiana, wrote in an email. “And more generally, effective communication contributes to better leadership, healthier workplaces and more welcoming communities.”

In high school, students often write term papers and begin to develop research prowess. But academic writing can present new challenges, experts say. Students can prepare for the transition by using available resources and addressing potential areas for improvement while still in high school.

Difference Between High School and Middle School Writing

Most colleges require students to take a freshman writing composition course, according to the Council of Writing Program Administrators, a national association for college faculty members interested in directing writing programs. The council indicates that these courses should aim to develop students’ rhetorical knowledge; strengthen their critical thinking, reading and composition skills; and familiarize them with the writing process.

Composition courses are designed to give students a foundation they can build on as they begin to specialize in areas of interest. After completing a composition course, students can expect to do more writing in college and will often be assigned longer assignments.

They may also be required to write in more courses, Kranek notes.

“We know a lot of students write in high school English classes, but they might not have written in history or science classes,” she says. “They can generally expect to write in different disciplines” in college.

In addition to writing on a wider range of topics, students could also be tasked with writing in different genres, styles, and tones. Lab reports, psychology papers, and literary analyzes are three particular types of common college assignments, Kranek says.

How to prepare for college writing

Experts have plenty of advice for high schoolers who are worried about taking on longer, more diverse writing assignments when they get to college.

Kranek and Denny encourage them to seek advice. Many secondary schools have writing centers and libraries. Kranek urges students to use these resources and seek feedback from their teachers.

Collaborating with classmates and friends can also be helpful, Denny says.

Since students typically have to write in a variety of styles, they can benefit from working on their versatility in high school, experts say.

“Make sure that when you’re writing new stuff, you always ask questions about who it is, what your purpose is, what the context is, and what kind of genre you’re writing,” says Kranek.

Denny encourages students to think about the specific types of work they may have to do in college based on their interests.

“Students should think about the varieties of writing they see in what they imagine to be possible majors,” he says. “How does a historian write differently from a physicist? How can creative writing help someone approach lab reports differently? »

Students can use self-awareness to identify parts of the writing process that are challenging them, Denny says. “Are they having trouble getting started? To develop and develop ideas? To refine and refine their messages?

How parents can help

Shelley Rodrigo, associate professor and senior director of the writing program in the University of Arizona’s English department, suggests that parents encourage their students to read and write about topics that interest them.

“Motivation matters,” she says. “Help students read and write what motivates them to read and write.

Rodrigo adds that a student’s interests don’t have to be academic – they can come from unlikely sources.

“Yeah, we have a lot of parents who like to criticize the time students spend playing video games,” she says. “But a lot of them have fan websites, and a lot of people will spend hours reading, writing, and chatting about these games.”

Kranek says parents can push their students to see the lifelong value of developing writing skills.

“At the end of the day, parents can point out that no matter where we go to college or what we do after college, writing is likely to be an essential skill in our personal and professional lives,” he said. – she writes in an e-mail. “The opportunities we have to engage in writing before and during college provide us with important opportunities to practice and hone our writing skills.”

Valerie J. Wallis