While those numbers are shocking, it can be difficult to know what they mean in practical terms. The influx of students with low verbal skills leads to confused and frustrated college writing instructors. An opinion piece by Dr. This phenomenon is not only frustrating for students and professors but also deeply inefficient for our education system more broadly. Predictably, remedial classes, the more formalized approach to this issue, have become more and more common. While remediation was once thought of as a refresher for adults returning to college, it has become a necessity for many students coming straight from high school as well.
For one-fifth of colleges, the issue is ubiquitous - at least schools placed more than half of incoming students in at least one remedial class. The college preparation crisis is complicated, and there are many plausible hypotheses that explain its roots. However, one of the most obvious explanations—that the kinds of work in high school and college are simply too different from one another—is also one of most substantiated ones.
The students explained that their assignments had often focused on offering opinions and summarizing information instead. In addition, a study done on expository writing at Harvard found that first-year students wrote an average of 13 papers during their freshman year.
It is little wonder that students are unprepared to write in college. In addition to vast differences in length and frequency, essays in high school and college differ in almost every other way—from argument to organization, from style guides to research methods. The most obvious difference, however, is the death of the five-paragraph essay in college.
While the five-paragraph essay can be a helpful learning tool and vital for timed essays on standardized tests , many professors raise warranted criticisms of its widespread use. The UNC Writing Center has an entire article dedicated to criticisms of the five-paragraph essay, which points out the following problems:.
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While some argue that the best five-paragraph essays can and do resist these generalizations, a discussion of the flaws of the five-paragraph essay can be a helpful way to talk about the differences between high school and college writing more broadly. What is the best way to prepare high school students for college level writing? The research required to find sources to cite is more involved in college than high school.
In high school, a simple Google search is often sufficient to find a few required sources. In college, finding reputable sources means going to the university library to find books in person or perusing academic peer-reviewed journals online. The purpose of research is also different in high school and college.
The differences in organization and research methods are ultimately pointing toward the most important difference between high school and college papers: the argument. In high school, arguments typically consist of single-sentence thesis statements that prove the student read the assigned book rather than making a complex argument. This progression ultimately reveals that it is not writing itself that is dangerous but the underestimation of the power of words. This is more than just a change in work for students but actually a complete change in mindset.
Rather than simply turning in a paper to get a certain grade or please a certain teacher, students ideally write papers to enter into an existing scholarly conversation. Also, you should set yourself a date for completing each task, so that you can get the entire job completed on time. Prioritize: In addition to school, a college student may have work, family, boyfriends or girlfriends, social life, housework, hobbies, entertainment, and activities. Obviously, some of these things cannot be ignored, but you do have to remember why you started going to college in the first place: to get an education.
It is quite possible that with good time management, you will be able to fit everything in, but you may well have to prioritize. If, for example, watching two hours of TV every night makes you unable to work and keep up with your homework, then you may have to decide that TV, being non-essential, will have to be cut back so that you will have time to get caught up.
Make a schedule: As mentioned above, you have hours a week. This gives you time to do a lot of things, but only if you use your time efficiently.
Making a schedule can really help you prioritize and give yourself enough time to do your schoolwork. If you schedule yourself enough time to do the more essential things like sleep, eating, studying, and taking care of important errands, you may find that you still have plenty of time for entertainment and friends. It is better to schedule more time for a particular task and actually follow through than it is to over-schedule yourself.
Stick to your schedule: Having a schedule does not mean anything unless you can enforce it on yourself. You have to learn to develop a certain amount of willpower so that you will be able to make your schedule stick. Be prepared to be flexible: You must also be prepared to be flexible because things will come up which will force you to deviate from your plan.
Some people are tired and distracted in the evening, but others are most awake and capable of efficient studying at night. However, you do have to watch your time; if you cannot say no to invitations, you may find yourself not having enough to study. Reward yourself after studying instead of getting caught in avoidance behaviors: Putting off studying for leisure activities can make you feel guilty and make those activities harder to enjoy.
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It can also result in you not having enough time to get everything done. When you have a choice between studying first or relaxing first, it is usually a better idea to get your studying out of the way. Doing that will make you feel responsible for yourself, and will allow you to enjoy your relaxation, knowing that you are caught up with your studies. You may feel that you are not good at taking notes and listening in class.
Since you will have to do a lot of listening and note-taking in college, it is very worthwhile to try to improve these skills. Listening and note-taking are not just activities that you do during class. Preparation for effective listening and note-taking should start before a class session begins, and the note-taking process should continue after the class session is over. Check the course syllabus to see if the instructor has specified the lecture topic for that particular day: If you know what the topic is in advance, you will be more ready for it, and you will be able to get some understanding of it before listening to the lecture.
Get caught up on all reading and assignments for that day: Doing this in advance will also give you the chance to get familiar with the topic before listening to the lecture, which will help you understand. Prepare some questions to ask the instructor: When looking at the topic or reading the material related to it, you may find that there are some points that you are not clear about.
In the first few class sessions, pay attention to how the teacher lectures: Some teachers only repeat information from the text. Others elaborate on or explain information from the text. Some will use the lectures to introduce new material. By paying attention to how the teacher lectures during the first few class sessions, you will get important information about how to effectively take notes for that lecturer.
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Listen carefully to the introduction if there is one : This will help you get mentally prepared for the topic and anticipate which points will be important. Also, paraphrasing can help you to actually understand the topic, rather than just repeating what you are hearing.
Learn to listen for main points: Remember, your goal of note taking is to help you understand and remember, not to record all information. You have to learn to identify the main points so that you will be able to efficiently summarize.
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Listing or numbering is another good indication that important information is being given. Speaking very slowly, as if the speaker is dictating, is another good indication that an important point is being discussed. Watch for nonverbal clues: When a speaker walks towards the audiences, paces, uses hand or finger gestures, or strikes the podium, it usually shows that he or she is making an important point.
He or she is giving you clues to what you should study for the tests. If the instructor talks about subjects that are not covered in the text, write them down, because those subjects may be on the test, and the lectures may be the only source of information about them: Some instructors only summarize, expand on, or clarify points from the text in their lectures. However, others will use lectures to introduce new subjects, and this may be your only source of information about those subjects.
Focus on the speaker: Obviously, being distracted can seriously impair your ability to follow what the speaker is saying. However, dwelling on these points will break your concentration. It is better to write them down so that you can talk about them with the teacher later.
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