i How My Writing Have Improved from Taking IDIS100 | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Rebecka Olsson

I am unfamiliar with writing in English, since my native language is Swedish and this is the first time I have attended an American school. The IDIS100 course has been a perfect course for me in my first semester in college. I have improved my writing skills remarkably since the beginning of this semester. The most important thing that I have learnt in this class is the importance of the process of writing, something that I need to keep in mind when I write papers in my other classes too. Throughout this course, I have been exposed to a new method of writing. I have always been one of those people who writes the paper the night before it is due and submits it 5 minutes before the time that it is due. The college writing course has made me realize that a good essay takes a lot more time and effort than what I initially thought. I have realized that the process of writing is just as important as the final product.

St Norbert is a liberal arts college and one of the key features that defines liberal arts education is to be able to write in a coherent and professional way. Good writing skills are important not only for college students, but it is also a skill that people use in their personal lives and in their careers. Fareed Zakaria, a supporter of liberal arts education, states in an article for CNN that: “whatever you do in life, the ability to write clearly, cleanly and, I would add, quickly, will prove to be an invaluable skill”. To be able to write clearly and to organize ideas in order for them to make sense is a skill that is useful for anyone in any profession. Zakaria also expresses that: “writing forces you to make choices and it brings clarity and order to your ideas”. I usually write down all ideas and thoughts I have before I start organizing my essays. Although my organization skills have improved, sometimes I struggle with organization. Throughout this course, since I have been re-writing and re-reading my work and revising my essays before handing them in, I have seen great improvement. I believe that writing is an important part of all types of education because putting knowledge into words often makes the topic more comprehendible and easier to remember.

Standardized testing is a common way of testing students skills and knowledge in high school. SAT is one of the most common standardized tests that students have to take before applying to colleges. These types of tests do not value creativity and the ability to think deeply, they do not provide any feedback to the students and they do not measure intelligence. Also, the stakes are often extremely high when taking standardized tests, the test score might affect influence a students future significantly by not getting in to the college they wish. In contrast to standardized testing, being able to put knowledge into words is a much more complicated process and demands a well thought-out structure for it to make sense. Students have to be creative and use their knowledge to put together a well written document that shows proof of their educational accomplishments. Therefore, I believe that writing is the most effective way to demonstrate your knowledge about something.

One of the things I have been struggling with in this class is syntax. The power point “Order Your Points Intentionally” is describing a few different ways of ordering paragraphs for the essay to be clear. The strategy that I have used in my blog posts is “logically”, to prove one point first in order for the next to make sense. We have also been writing different kinds of paragraphs; point-first, point-last, acknowledgement and response. We have been discussing the pros and cons for using each of them in different situations in our writing. In my blog post 3, I start off by introducing a problem for my reader, explaining why this is a problem and then responding to the problem by saying that however, this does not affect division 3 schools: “The NCAA organization have a bad reputation of treating their student athletes badly” (…) “This problem however is only affecting division 1 schools. It is in fact a big difference between division 1 schools and division 3 schools. Division 3 college athletic programs benefit the students”. This a way of describing a problem for the reader and respond to that with my own opinion or idea on the matter.

John Warner is an instructor in a first-year writing course for college students and in his blog post about college writing, he states that professors must: “Help students understand the genre they are writing in”. I agree and I think that this is a crucial cause of why students sometimes underperform when writing papers. In my economy class for example, I had to write a short essay for each unit this semester. I do not feel that I got enough guidance and explanation of how to write and what the purpose was with these essays. I could still use the same technique in writing that I learned in my college writing course, to deliver my claim early in the essay and support it with strong arguments and evidence for my claim. I am sure I could have performed much better on these essays if my professor would have been more precise with the instructions.

I am still challenged with writing clear sentences and introducing sources in my essays. I always think about the sentence we used in class: “Joe threw the ball to Spot”, whenever I am struggling with writing clear sentences. This sentence is clear because it starts with the main character and then describes the action. One example from my own writing when I wrote a clear sentence is from my blog post 3: “Being a part of a team teaches you how to work well in a group and that is a skill that is useful even after college”. Being a part of a team is the character in this sentence and teaches you how to… is the action. I did not become an expert in writing after taking this class, writing is a process and it takes time to become a good writer. The skills that I have learned in the college writing course have helped me along the way but I still have a lot of things to improve in my writing. I now have a foundation of knowledge on how to write college level papers with a good structure and clarity.

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