What I Wish I Had Known in College: Writing (1 of 2)
Writing for college may require a shift outlined by the following:
- A Review of Literature, like an outline, seems an exercise in busy work. But, it can provide a solid foundation for your original thoughts.
- Multiple ways exist to get to your conclusions. Your job is to walk your reader through your process.
- Case writing, like storytelling, can help you fill out your papers with meaningful explanations and examples.
Few lessons I wished I had learned are more important than the lessons I wish I knew about writing. Part of the problem is that I was told throughout high school that I was a good writer. I did not know then that the levels were poor, good, better, excellent, extraordinary. I didn’t know that “good” was synonymous with “below average.”
I started writing a blog in 2010 with a switch to my own website in 2012. Those original blogs tell the story. By that time, I had an earned PhD. Yet, I am a much Better writer now than I was at that time. When you add my technique and productivity, I may be considered an Excellent writer.
The first lesson you need to comprehend is what writing is meant to accomplish. Writing as a skill is a baseline perspective and mindset meant to organize your thoughts for articulation. The shifts presented here will save you some frustration in your college writing process.
Plagiarism is a pressing concern on college campuses today. It is certainly much more than you may have experienced in high school. The explosion of information on the Internet provides ample enticement to procrastinators, slouches, and even well-meaning writers. Two skills are required to overcome the enticement and error. You will need a new perspective on Your writing. That is, ownership is a more expensive process than you may be familiar with. You will also need the technical skill to cite the resources you utilize in your paper.
Ownership. There is nothing new under the sun. College professors believe this with reckless abandon. This means that your writing will be assumed to have no original thoughts. It is not a slight on your intelligence or your creativity. What they intend to communicate is that you must review the literature to see what others are saying about your topic. Without a critical analysis of their work, you are not qualified to provide your opinion.
To proffer a thought, you will need to demonstrate that you have conducted a thorough exploration of information available. The research findings, musings, and other citable communications of recognized scholars must be used to provide a foundation for your thoughts.
Get comfortable explaining what you are reading including combining multiple author’s perspectives and insights to come up with your combinatory explanation. You may feel that this decreases your power and reputation as a creator and innovator. It does not. The writing was never to confirm your status as an innovator. It is a means to explain and articulate analysis before any other function. In college, the height of scholarship is to stand on the shoulders of other scholars replicating and extending their work.
References. Once you have acquiesced to the realities and scholastic goals of the college writing experience, you will need to become familiar with Writing Styles. They are presented in detail in writing style guides. Your discipline will have a favorite to which they ascribe.
For every communication type that you may reference, the style guide provides explanation and example of citing and referencing those works. You will want to have a copy of your profession’s preferred style guide for your personal reference. I would also suggest that you have an editor on hand that is familiar with the style guide you need.
Also, keep in mind that professors have their own preferences that may or may not align with the style guide. Best advice: just give the professor what they want even if you can prove they are wrong in their requirement. Many other fights exist in college. This is one that students rarely win, if ever.
[This two-part blog on Writing is continued here.]