Why Academic Writing is Essential for Students

Why Academic Writing is Essential for Students

Writing in high school and college involves the use of basic elements and principles of the English language.

However, writing in college or ‘academic writing’ per se demands strict adherence to some styles, formats, and guidelines.  I now understand why it is a fundamental skill every undergraduate must acquire.

Before the kickoff of Spring 2019 classes, all of us first-year students who enrolled into the writing class believed that the contents of the ‘regular English’ classes in high school are what would be obtainable in college. In the first few weeks of class attendance, topics like critical reading, the writing process, and patterns of development in writing reverberated through my ears and mind, and those of other first-year students in different sections of the writing class.

We had very engaging class sessions on critical reading where we collectively evaluated texts and images to appreciate and understand the authors’ purposes and cultures, while periodically juxtaposing them against our own values. Class sessions on patterns of development in writing were very intriguing as we explored the different ways in which topics could be developed meaningfully in one, three or more paragraphs. In addition, when topics like working with sources, plagiarism, and the writing styles were introduced, the distinguishing features of college writing became clearer to me and my colleagues.

As we progressed through the course, we eventually had to apply the depth of our knowledge through the writing assignments which varied in type and structure. Although the resources needed to deliver excellent works were in abundance, the assignments progressively required rigorous research, critical thinking, and clear articulation; luckily, the Writing Center and the Library, two key resources for effective writing, were always available for support.

Towards the end, we were alternatingly tested on crafting well-articulated essays within an hour or two. Initially, as first-year students, we were uncomfortable with the exercises, but its overall impact on our thinking and writing skills proved positive.

As we prepared for the final exams, we were uncertain about the expectations of us, as we did not have topics for concentration which would have applied in secondary and high school. Fortunately, in several class sessions, the instructor reiterated the importance of in-class or online writing and grammar exercises to enable us master thesis statements, paragraph development, common errors in academic writing, and mechanics of the English language.

To sum up, our experiences in the writing class would best be described as an intellectual adventure. The introduction to composition course introduced us to the discipline and commitment necessary for engaging writing, and it also empowered us with valuable transferable skills and information that we will enhance as we progress through different academic levels at AUN.  Indeed, the writing class was one of those which daily whisper “you are now in college” into the ears of every first-year student.

Reported by Elvis Obioha, Software Engineering major