Depending upon the student’s major, the average college student writes about 15 papers a year. This doesn’t count journal entries, logs, and other short written assignments professors use to ensure completion of readings or to track progress on major group projects. And, don’t forget those mid-term or final exam Bluebooks with their “Compare and Contrast . . . “, “Apply the theory of . . .”, or “Give a contemporary example of . . . and elaborate” essays!
It is unclear how it has happened but we do know that it is multifactorial…our kids are not learning how to write!
Few of the students who enter our Confidence@College Program have been taught (or retained) a systematic process to apply when completing written assignments like: “brainstorm, outline, write a rough draft, edit, and complete a final copy.” More commonly, they sit down at the computer at the 11th hour and just begin typing away and insist that it works for them until they flunk their third college essay. (After the first one, they blame the professor; after the second one, they say they did not have enough time; by the third, the reality of their weakness sets in.)
Too often, we find that many students have become overly dependent upon teachers, tutors, parents, or fellow students to help them generate ideas, and then plan, organize, research, structure and complete a paper. In fact, many parents admit to us that they have actually written some of their child’s papers in high school, obsessively edited them, or “put the finishing touches on them” at the keyboard while their child slept on the couch. Hardly ways to prepare for the rigors of college!
This is a huge problem as being able to write a coherent, well-organized paper is a prerequisite to success at college. Weakness in this area becomes magnified when students also have temperamental extremes and attentional weaknesses which can contribute to poor time/task management, procrastination, low frustration tolerance, poor stress management, poor self-monitoring (not learning from mistakes) and weak self-advocacy skills that interfere with asking for and taking advantage of help.
Often, problems at writing papers is a stepping off point for kids getting behind the 8-ball at college. It has a cascading effect impacting their ability to cope with and manage the whole college experience.
Some difficulty in learning how to be a good writer is to be expected; but in the end, mastery of this skill can be a key to success in life after college: filling out job applications, composing emails and letters, developing proposals, submitting bids, completing sales reports, developing marketing materials, and answering a customer’s complaints are all places where strong writing skills are necessary in the workplace. Employers tell us that poor writing skills are common in new hires and are a major barrier to effectively collaborating with co-workers and being considered for advancement opportunities.
If your child has rough edges in his/her writing skills, reach out to our Confidence@College Program to identify the contributors and come up with a plan to remediate, refine, and produce high quality written products. To accomplish this, take the appropriate Confidence@College screener to see if there are aspects of your child’s TRANSACT Profile that place him/her at risk for college failure. If so, contact us and set up a Discovery Session so we can help start moving things along a path to success.