Struggling with your college assignments? Learn the truth about college writing skills, and the changes you’ll need to make to succeed, in this article by NJ teacher Matthew H...
It’s no secret that writing in college is a lot harder than in high school.
But why is that? What makes college writing so much harder?
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why college writing is more difficult and offer some tips on how to make the process a little bit easier.
What Do You Expect in College Writing?
College writing can be a challenge, but there are certain expectations that can help you succeed. These include being able to:
- Research effectively
- Think critically
- Present ideas and research clearly
- Use proper grammar and spelling
- Organize your thoughts in a logical, easy-to-read format
If you can meet these expectations, you will find that college writing is much easier. Of course, every professor has different expectations, so it is important to ask for clarification if you are unsure about what is expected of you.
However, if you can understand and meet the basic expectations of college writing, you will be well on your way to success.
Still stuck? It may be time to sign up for writing lessons. Check out the video below for more infomration on what to expect from your writing tutor:
How Hard is College Writing?
College writing can be challenging, but also rewarding. In order to be successful, students need to be willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the skills necessary for college-level writing.
This includes understanding how to construct an argument, use evidence effectively, and write clearly and concisely. In addition, students must be able to navigate the often-intimidating world of academic research.
However, with perseverance and a positive attitude, college writing can be a great way to hone one’s skills and earn good grades.
So if you’re feeling stressed about college writing, just remember that it’s not as hard as it seems. With a little bit of effort, you’ll be on your way to success.
How is College Writing Different?
In another post, I had discussed the relationship between academic and creative writing. Bottom line: no difference. Good writing is good writing. So why is it that most university level expository writing (and similarly titled courses) demand so much more than even AP level high school English classes? Below are some inconvenient truths when it comes to important college writing skills.
Truth 1: You were insufficiently prepared
No disrespect intended toward any of the fine educators occupying high school English classrooms. Unfortunately, many of them are forced to teach writing styles catering to standardized tests. Whether SAT, AP, or state required exams, you were instructed how to write an essay in under 30 minutes. College writing is a bit different in that professors expect the best quality output from you over the course of several days rather than something crammed in the morning before it was due. If you coasted in high school writing classes, you will not succeed in college unless you make some major changes. Take time to familiarize yourself with the essay topic, complete any necessary readings and draw conclusions appropriately.
Truth 2: Personal anecdotes are (mostly) meaningless
This sounds a bit harsh, yes, but you’re going to hear about it eventually. While you definitely want to connect to your writing and have others relate to it as well, personal anecdotes are not the way to go. Chalk it up to another SAT-related misfire, where directly recounting personal experiences are permitted due to the stringent time constraints. In college writing courses, you are expected to directly cite sources and draw connections between two or more authors’ work. Quoting a published piece carries a lot more weight than explaining what happened to your best friend in sixth grade, regardless of what the topic is. Substantiate any claim you make by either directly or indirectly citing a source (use proper APA or MLA format!).
Truth 3: Whatever your major is, good writing will set you apart
In high school, you may not have excelled at writing, but had your favorite subjects to fall back on. In college, whatever you choose to major in, from mathematics to zoology, you will need to write. A lot. Why are good college writing skills so important to have? Considering that it is the only way to communicate ideas to a mass audience without directly speaking to anyone, being able to express yourself with the written word is of utmost importance. If what you major in is supposed to be your area of expertise, you are expected to have a keen knowledge of that discipline, and the best way to demonstrate such deep understanding is to effectively explain topics within your field by writing about them. In other words, you prove you know what you are talking about when you know how to talk (or write) about it.
What Are the Strategies for College Writing?
There are a number of strategies that can be employed when writing for college. One of the most important is to develop a clear and concise thesis statement. This will serve as a roadmap for the rest of the paper, and will help to keep the argument focused.
Another useful strategy is to anticipate counterarguments and address them head-on. This will show that you are aware of alternative perspectives and that you have considered them carefully in arriving at your own position.
Finally, be sure to support your claims with evidence from reputable sources.
By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your college writing is clear, well-reasoned, and persuasive.
Common Writing Prompts for College Students
College students often find themselves facing a daunting array of writing assignments. Whether it’s a research paper, a lab report, or a creative writing assignment, each one comes with its own set of challenges.
However, there are some writing prompts that are particularly well-suited to the college setting.
For example, in a creative writing class, many instructors will ask students to write about their personal experiences or observations.
This can be an opportunity to reflect on the things that have had the most impact on your life, and to share your thoughts and feelings with your classmates.
Other common prompts include asking students to compare and contrast two different concepts or to analyze an event from multiple perspectives.
Whatever the prompt may be, college students can benefit from taking the time to brainstorm ideas and plan their essays before they begin writing. With a little preparation, any writing assignment can be a chance to shine.
Where to Get College Essay Writing Help
One of the biggest challenges for new students is the shift from high school to college-level writing.
In high school, essays are often shorter and focus on personal opinion. In college, professors expect students to write well-researched papers that display a deep understanding of the subject matter.
For many students, this can be a daunting task.
Luckily, there are a number of resources available to help students improve their writing skills.
The Writing Center is a great place to start; it offers one-on-one sessions with writing tutors, as well as workshops on various aspects of the writing process.
There are also many online resources that can be helpful, such as grammar guides and style manuals. You can always ask a trusted friend or even your writing tutor for help, too!
With a little effort, any student can become a master of college essay writing.
Should I Use a College Paper Writing Service?
There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t use a college paper writing service. For one thing, most of these services are operated by people who have no experience in writing college papers. They’re also often expensive, and they can’t guarantee that your paper will be any good.
Additionally, using a college paper writing service can get you in trouble with your professor or the school administration. Finally, it’s simply not necessary to use a college paper writing service – if you’re struggling with your paper, you can always ask a friend or family member for help, or look online for tips on how to improve your writing.
In short, there’s no good reason to use a college paper writing service – save your money and your academic reputation by avoiding them.
College Essay Writing – Be Patient and Willing to Learn!
If you are willing to put in the work and learn from your mistakes, you will be on your way to writing a great college essay.
Start by brainstorming ideas, then narrow down your focus and start writing. Be sure to edit and revise your essay multiple times before submitting it. With a little practice, you will be able to write a college essay that will get you noticed! Be patient as you adapt – and be willing to learn from your mistakes.
So, college writing skills are different from what the typical high school student has been exposed to. How should you adapt when arriving to your university? First, get the last-minute cram writing sessions out of you head, and replace them with several days’ worth of reading and note-taking. Avoid using personal anecdotes by focusing on direct quotes to cite from scholarly articles or other published literature. Lastly, never assume that writing is not important for your major or minor; even engineering students will have to hand in reports (and a well-written report is the difference between an A and a B+).
College writing assignments can be much harder than high school assignments because college professors expect students to have a more sophisticated understanding of the topic and to be able to express their ideas in a clear, concise, and well-organized manner.
If you are finding that your college writing assignments are more difficult than you anticipated, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The good news is that with a little hard work and some guidance from your professor or tutor, you can improve your writing skills and get the grades you want.
Matthew H. provides tutoring in various subjects both online and in New Milford, NJ. He recently received his MA from NYU with a background in Sociolinguistics and related research. Learn more about Matthew here!
Photo by Sascha Pohflepp