By Alexandria Sese > Sophomore > English > University of Illinois at Chicago, Photo by Catherine Finsness > Sophomore > Psychology > The George Washington University
Avoid A Failed Paper
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, with 76 percent of college-level institutions offering remedial courses in various areas of studies including writing, it is evident that many students are going to college without the necessary writing skills.
The need for professional-grade writing prompted many universities like the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University to include mandatory composition courses in their curriculum. Additionally, institutions have writing centers where students can get one-on-one assistance for their academic papers.
Raymond Legault, a junior from the University of Long Island, is a tutor in his campus writing center. He helps fellow students improve their papers and their writing skills in general by working with them one on one.
“It seems like a lot of students – myself included – have this feeling that going to a tutor is a sign of weakness or ineptitude or something like that,” Legault observes. “But going for help really isn’t that big a deal.”
“Writing is a process,” Prof. Paul Sawyer, Ph.D. says. Sawyer is an English professor at Cornell University and the director of John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines. He reminds students that quality writing comes from careful revisions and takes time to master: “[Writing] is something you learn,” Sawyer says. Quality writing takes time.
After receiving poor grades on their papers, Legoult observed that students get the impression that they are also poor thinkers. He says that’s not always the case. While many students have brilliant ideas for their papers, the poor grade might come from difficulties in organizing those ideas or just expressing themselves.
Good papers also come from thoughtful research. Sawyer advises students to master close reading. Close reading is the attentive and thoughtful reading of a text or prompt. This technique will help students devise “an interesting thesis for their work,” says Sawyer, which will inspire them to write an equally interesting argument for their thesis. Close reading also enables students to find a connection between their own opinions and that of others and converse them with each other – another component of quality college papers.
Writing is a fundamental part of college education regardless if the area of study is in English or physics. Most importantly, your future (or present) employers look for writing proficiency so it is best to master your writing skills while in college.