Writing in College - A Short Guide to College Writing
Writing in College is licensed under a license. You may use and share this essay and/or its chapters for non-commercial educational purposes, provided that you give credit to the authors (Joseph M. Williams and Lawrence McEnerney) and reproduce this notice.
Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence By Amy Guptill, with contributions by Aly Button, Peter Farrell, Kaethe Leonard, and Timothée Pizarro.
One of the major differences between workplace writing and college writing is reflected in the expectations of those who assign the writing. In the workplace, the emphasis is on producing a written product. In college writing, the emphasis is on writing to think, writing to learn, and writing to demonstrate learning. For example, at work, you may be expected to write a memo to employees to explain a procedural change. In a college assignment, you may be expected to understand the process of creating a memo, to clearly explain the new policy, and to demonstrate reader-centered writing techniques in writing the memo.First year college students nearly always struggle with the transition from high school writing to college writing. Often, this struggle occurs because college professors have different expectations regarding structure and argument than those that are usually found in high schools. College writing differs most significantly from high school writing in the following ways:Some students make very smooth transitions from writing in high school to writing in college, and we heartily wish all of you an easy passage. But other students are puzzled and frustrated by their experiences in writing for college classes. Only months earlier your writing was winning praise; now your instructors are dissatisfied, saying that the writing isn't quite "there" yet, saying that the writing is "lacking something." You haven't changed--your writing is still mechanically sound, your descriptions are accurate, you're saying smart things. But they're still not happy. Some of the criticism is easy to understand: it's easy to predict that standards at college are going to be higher than in high school. But it is not just a matter of higher standards: Often, what your instructors are asking of you is not just something better, but something different. If that's the case, then you won't succeed merely by being more intelligent or more skillful at doing what you did in high school. Instead, you'll need to direct your skills and your intelligence to a new task.Successful writing in college and university courses isn’t only a matter of choosing a worthwhile topic and observing grammar and mechanics rules. It requires writers to follow a host of other written discourse conventions. On first glance, these conventions may seem arbitrary, but in fact they are useful tools. They compel a writer to be specific and clear, and they help demonstrate to audiences that a writer thinks in ways that are preferred by the academic community. In other words, following conventions shows that you belong to that community.In the next few pages, we're going to walk you through a process of creating an argument in a Humanities or Social Science paper. Note that we're describing "a" process and not "the" process. We're not describing the way that everyone does go about writing an argument. We're certainly not describing the way everyone must go about writing an argument. Further, we can't cover everything, and some of your teachers will expect something other than what we describe here. There are even some differences between how you write papers in Humanities and in the Social Sciences. But within all these limits, we can lay some groundwork for writing college papers.covers the nuts and bolts of writing college papers, including the summary, the critique, the synthesis, and analysis. Based upon the bestselling coverage in , this handy guide introduces each of the strategies, taking students step by step through the process of writing papers based upon source material.