Tuesday, April 6, 2010

High School Needs To Prepare Students More!

When I started college I felt that the writing that was expected of me was beyond what I had learned in high school. Even with having to take an English class every year I felt the way we were taught and expected to write didn't help us enough in becoming able to write at the college level. The writing assignments were too relaxed, and majority of them only required an introduction, body, and conclusion. The research papers required you to do gather information on a topic but more than likely the teacher would be happy with all internet sources. This differs from college greatly. I've found that professors in college don't want a simple, straightforward paper. They want to challenge yourself, and write a compelling paper that will make the reader actually want to finish the whole thing. They also don't want a bunch of internet sites as you main sources of information. Since not every internet site is legit, it makes having a word sited list not as creditable. Thus why professors want books and journals to be used as well, so you'll have a more respectable paper. If I would have been taught these thinks while in high school I would of been able to hit the ground running in college.
Even if I was taught strategies for keeping my audience interested in my paper, or to go beyond the internet to find good reliable sources in books and academic journal, I would still have to deal with the grading difference in college compared to high school. In high school your paper only had to follow the simple standard criteria.
"Is the paper in an order that makes sense to the reader?"
"Does your paper have a introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and conclusion?"
"Is the paper free of grammar errors?"
"Is there a word sited list included?"
When entering college I thought the papers would graded the same, but I was wrong. Papers must consist of an introduction that grabs the reader's attention, and a conclusion that isn't just repeating the introduction. When your paper is finished it isn't suppose to contain any grammar errors where as in high school you could still get a 100 if you have a few grammar errors. This just shows that the teaching I received in high school didn't prepare me enough for what true college papers require.


  1. Your perspective on the transition from high school writing to college writing is very interesting. Being a writing teacher, I'm glad that you have recognized the specific differences between the two.

    I definitely had the same experience, though. I remember not thinking very much about what I was writing when I wrote in high school. I just performed the genre (most often the five-paragraph essay). When I got to college, it seemed like professors didn't want clear answers. They wanted me to deal with complex issues, even if that meant I wouldn't come to a conclusion. That was odd to me then, but that is how I still write now.

    Why do you think there is such a difference in expectations for writing between high school and college?

  2. You're not alone if feeling the sting of College English Prep. I'm right here with you!

    Lucky in college we're able to email the teacher outside of class which will make life much more easier, at least it does for me.
    Good Luck!

  3. Wow. This makes me feel really fortunate to have had the fantastic teachers that I had in high school. Although writing in college has been a challenge, I feel like I was well-prepared for it. My teachers focused on improving our writing at every opportunity, and I am so glad. If I hadn't had their help, I would be completely overwhelmed right now.

  4. You bring up a lot of really good points James. I too feel overwhelmed at times with the extra load college writing courses dump you with compared to high school classes. And thanks for pointing out the concrete differences between the two, I couldn't think of what exactly made this course harder than my previous courses. Hopefully this insight will help me (and yourself as well) watch out for things I would have gotten away with in high school, but that I can't do now.

  5. I couldn't agree with you more. I can remember how on of the selling points high schools would use to try and get you to go there was how well it prepared a student for college. I however didn't feel that prepared when I first began college and I have many friends who have had the same experience.

  6. I agree. I dont think the writing in high school prepared me enough for college. Even these first few writing assignments we have had I dont remember ever doing anything like this in high school :/