In an age where technology, finance, and business reigns, you might ask about the relevance of writing and learning how to write essays. Knowing how to write is an essential skill that is as relevant today as ever! A recent survey of employers, conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, found that 89 percent of employers believe that colleges and universities should place more emphasis on teaching students to "effectively communicate orally and in writing” (Seligo). Writing was the only 'most-favored' skill in this survey. In addition, several of the other valued skills mentioned by employers are grounded in written communication:
- “Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” (81 percent of employers)
- “The ability to analyze and solve complex problems” (75 percent of employers)
- “The ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information from multiple sources” (68 percent of employers).
If you want to be professional, you need to interact frequently with others. You have to be someone who can anticipate and solve complex problems and coordinate your work with others. Whether you're in business, an entrepreneur, or in a corporation, all of these skills depend on effective communication.
Taking these ideas a step further, CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has done away with PowerPoint presentations altogether and has reverted back to writing longer essay-style memos. In a famous email sent out to his employees on June 9, 2004, he explains why: “The reason writing a 4-page memo is harder than “writing” a 20-page PowerPoint is because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what, and how things are related.” At a typical Amazon meeting, employees present a long narrative style memo detailing their ideas. During the first part of the meeting everyone is silent, reading the memo and taking notes, before discussing the memo. The act of writing and annotating, whether it is in business or technology, forces the writer to think through ideas fully.
The process that Amazon employees use to write memos and sharpen their ideas is not much different than that used by students in first year composition classes. In college writing classes, students study specific topics in depth, research ideas, and then, in a process that involves planning, reading, writing, researching, and revising, present their ideas in a well-organized format. This process is used in writing an essay. Most of the writing that we will be doing in a first year Composition class is expository, detailing and explaining a theory. Students will learn how to make a statement and convince their readers about its validity using logic and persuasive writing.
All these skills are what companies are looking for in their future employees, whether these employees are working in technology, finance, the arts, or business. Jeffrey Seligo, author of College Unbound, writes about the dearth of college graduates with these skills. He writes, "Hiring managers complain that they often find today's college graduates lacking in interpersonal skills, problem solving, effective written and oral communication skills, the ability to work together in teams, and critical and analytical thinking" and that employees who have the ability to "come up with novel solutions to problems and [are] better able to sort through information to filter out the most critical pieces are the ones who will be of great value." Writing expository essays in college will help build critical thinking and inter-personal skills as students work in groups to debate their ideas and fine-tune their essays based on helpful feedback from their instructor and, often, peers.
By taking first year college composition, you are on the way to becoming a better thinker and writer -- skills that can make you highly desirable, both as an employee but also for your own self-development as the benefits of learning how to write go beyond getting a job. Writing effectively helps to expand your world by making you think critically about issues in the news. And it enables you to make more informed decisions as a member of a family or a community.
Now that we have established the need for learning how to write effectively, a process that goes hand-in-hand with reading and critical thinking, let's get started with making sure we have all we need to succeed in the course.
Contributors and Attributions
- Revision and adaptation of the page "Why Write" in College Writing. Authored by: Susan Oaks. Provided by: Empire State College, SUNY OER Services. License: CC BY-NC-SA.
NON CC LICENSED CONTENT:
- Quotes taken from Jeffrey J.Seligo's College Unbound, Amazon Publishing, Las Vegas, 2013.
This page most recently updated on May 31, 2020.