High School Grads: Is Your Writing Ready for College?

Barry Lenson

One of our editors at StraighterLine Blog is also an SAT tutor.  We asked him to conduct an informal survey for us, and here are the results.

First, he asked 10 SAT students to name a subject that their high schools had not taught well enough. Eight of them replied, “writing.” (The other two cited “math” and “chemistry.”)

Second, he asked six parents to name one subject that their children had not learned well enough in high school. Four of them replied, “writing.” (The other two parents answered “study skills” and “music.”)

Third, he asked a group of six SAT tutors to name the area where their students needed the most catch-up work before starting college. All six of them replied, “writing.”

So the results of the survey were,

“Writing, writing and writing.” 

How Well Do You Write?

Now let’s get down to the really pressing question. If you are a recent high school grad, do you need more instruction to get your writing skills up to grade? Here are some questions that can help you decide:

  • Do you suffer from writer’s block? You know the syndrome – you sit at a blank computer screen and you don’t know how to start.  Yet the fact is, writer’s block is not hard to beat. You just need some simple strategies, such as outlining anything you are going to write and then starting in the middle of it.
  • Do you procrastinate about your writing projects? Procrastination is easy to beat too. One winning strategy is to write just one paragraph, then come back to it a few hours later. When you see a writing project in little “chunks” instead of a huge number of pages, you break the logjam and get going.
  • Do you have too much invested emotionally in your writing? Remember that college writing is all about conveying information simply and clearly, not about moving your readers to tears or laughter. Your only job is to convey information simply.
  • Are you hiding from any specific weaknesses as a writer? Some writers, for example, don’t know when to use “its” and when to use “it’s.” They don’t know how to form the possessive of words that end in “s.” They are terrified of writing footnotes or a bibliography. Or they worry that their lack of vocabulary will make their writing sound immature. (Somehow, they miss the fact that the best writers use the simplest language.)

So, are you ready to write in college? If you’re not 100 percent sure, why try to cover it up? With the right writing course, you can become a stronger, more confident writer in just a few weeks.

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