As you begin this chapter, you may be wondering why you need an introduction. After all, you have been writing and reading since elementary school. You completed numerous assessments of your reading and writing skills in high school and as part of your application process for college. You may write on the job, too. Why is a college writing course even necessary?
When you are eager to get started on the coursework in your major that will prepare you for your career, getting excited about an introductory college writing course can be difficult. However, regardless of your field of study, honing your writing skills—and your reading and critical-thinking skills—gives you a more solid academic foundation.
In college, academic expectations change from what you may have experienced in high school. The quantity of work you are expected to do is increased. When instructors expect you to read pages upon pages or study hours and hours for one particular course, managing your work load can be challenging. This chapter includes strategies for studying efficiently and managing your time.
The quality of the work you do also changes. It is not enough to understand course material and summarize it on an exam. You will also be expected to seriously engage with new ideas by reflecting on them, analyzing them, critiquing them, making connections, drawing conclusions, or finding new ways of thinking about a given subject. Educationally, you are moving into deeper waters. A good introductory writing course will help you swim. Table 1.1 “High School versus College Assignments” summarizes some of the other major differences between high school and college assignments.
|Reading assignments are moderately long. Teachers may set aside some class time for reading and reviewing the material in depth.||Some reading assignments may be very long. You will be expected to come to class with a basic understanding of the material.|
|Teachers often provide study guides and other aids to help you prepare for exams.||Reviewing for exams is primarily your responsibility.|
|Your grade is determined by your performance on a wide variety of assessments, including minor and major assignments. Not all assessments are writing based.||Your grade may depend on just a few major assessments. Most assessments are writing based.|
|Writing assignments include personal writing and creative writing in addition to expository writing.||Outside of creative writing courses, most writing assignments are expository.|
|The structure and format of writing assignments is generally stable over a four-year period.||Depending on the course, you may be asked to master new forms of writing and follow standards within a particular professional field.|
|Teachers often go out of their way to identify and try to help students who are performing poorly on exams, missing classes, not turning in assignments, or just struggling with the course. Often teachers will give students many “second chances.”||Although teachers want their students to succeed, they may not always realize when students are struggling. They also expect you to be proactive and take steps to help yourself. “Second chances” are less common.|
This chapter covers the types of reading and writing assignments you will encounter as a college student. You will also learn a variety of strategies for mastering these new challenges—and becoming a more confident student and writer.
Throughout this chapter, you will follow a first-year student named Crystal. After several years of working as a saleswoman in a department store, Crystal has decided to pursue a degree in elementary education and become a teacher. She is continuing to work part-time, and occasionally she finds it challenging to balance the demands of work, school, and caring for her four-year-old son. As you read about Crystal, think about how you can use her experience to get the most out of your own college experience.
Review Table 1.1 “High School versus College Assignments” and think about how you have found your college experience to be different from high school so far. Respond to the following questions:
- In what ways do you think college will be more rewarding for you as a learner?
- What aspects of college do you expect to find most challenging?
- What changes do you think you might have to make in your life to ensure your success in college?