The Difference Between High
School and College Writing
Overwhelmingly, time and time again, research has shown the ability to write well is key to overall college success. This is no surprise. After all, writing at its core is thinking on paper, and the ability to think and reason is what separates great students from mediocre performers. In my transition from high school teacher to college professor, I have noted five distinct differences in high school and college writing. If each of these differences were addressed, students, especially adult learners-- those returning to school after a long absence, would make a smoother transition to college level work because writing is needed for almost every class.
High school students write papers that are informative whereas college papers are explorative.
College students are expected to be embrace new concepts and expand upon those ideas in their papers. Most high school papers are generally informative. A high school teacher generally assigns students papers to check for their understanding. For instance, a high school teacher might ask a student to write a paper on the Civil War. The student is expected to regurgitate facts and ideologies discussed in class. A history professor, on the other hand, wants the student to discover new ideologies about the Civil War that were not discussed or explored in class. Furthermore, the student may be asked to research another war and note political, economic or other similarities to the Civil War.
High school students write general thesis statements, whereas college students are expected to form solid argumentative thesis statements.
In high school students wrote very general thesis statements, if they wrote them at all. Students might write: I am going to discuss the way Romeo and Juliet interacted with their families. However, a college thesis is much more specific and directive and really drives the paper. For instance, a college thesis might be: It will be proven that the friar's lack of religious influence caused the death of Romeo. The college thesis should be opinionated and it should be written in such a way that it could be challenged by someone with an opposing view.
High school students may surf the web and find sources to use in their paper whereas college professors will only accept scholarly research sources.
In high school students Googled and used popular sources like magazines, websites and books in their papers. For the most part, if students did not plagiarize, these sources were accepted as authoritative. College writing, on the other hand, requires the use of scholarly sources. Scholarly sources are research references that are peer-reviewed or an articles or books from an academic publisher. A website has to meet certain criteria to be scholarly.
High school students were taught to write in a simple form, whereas college writing requires more invention.
In high school most students were taught to write the typical five paragraph essay. This essay generally included an introduction, conclusion and three body paragraphs and each body paragraph elaborated on each point. This was the way most students prepared for the writing portion of the SAT. In College writing students are expected to write expansively and decipher each point, and the five paragraph essay just does not meet the standard.
High school students write papers using a loose form of MLA or generally no form at all, whereas college professors require strict adherence to form.
Students should know how to cite in Modern Language Association (MLA), Association of Psychological (APA), Chicago, etc. The font should always be 12 point. The research within the paper should be cited a specific way.
These five areas, if addressed will help students to write well in college and beyond. Adult learners, especially those returning to school and those taking online classes, often struggle repeatedly with some of these issues. However, once students master these skills they quickly transform into strong students.
Frequently Asked Curriculum Questions: Writing Success
Is this curriculum really easy to use?
Yes, it is designed to complement any homeschool ing method or approach. The simplicity of the curriculum makes it compatible with almost any curriculum. It may also be used by public or private school parents to help their children gain the needed writing and thinking skills. It only requires as little as fifteen minutes a day on the easier lessons.
Does your writing program prepare students for the AP Language and Composition exam?
No, while the student will do college level writing, this is not an AP preparation course.
My child has no interest in going to college, is this program right for every student?
This program is for college-bound students who want to prepare for the rigor, critical thinking and challenges of college writing. It will serve nearly any student but some students who are still struggling with writing basics will need help along the way. Many struggling writers like the fact that the writing exercises are timed and simple and that format writing guides them step-by-step.
Can I do the entire high school curriculum in one year?
While you may work with a very motivated child, it is not advisable to do the entire curriculum in one year. The curriculum is made to be spread out over as many as four years and as little as two years.
My son is a junior in high school is it too late to use the curriculum?
No, it is not. Likely your son will progress through the easier writing assignments quickly. He probably will complete the Functional Writing section rather quickly. The final research and literary papers are college-level assignments so completion of those assignments is very important.
Is this a stand-alone curriculum or can it be used with other curriculums?
The curriculum may be used alongside whatever curriculum you are using. For instance, if you are studying Western Civilization, you might assign your student a paper compare/ contrast essay based on that time period. Alternately, you can do the journaling and note-taking exercises weekly as a standalone Writing curriculum.
Do your writing classes mirror your curriculum content?
Yes and no. Each classes was developed separately. Some of our high school curriculum is based on college books that I have used with my college students.
Is your curriculum just for homeschoolers?
No , it is not. I hope students especially those with middle-school children will get the curriculum and begin preparing their children for higher education early.
Do you have samples of the different types of papers in the format writing section?
Here is a link to sample student papers written and compiled by the National Writing Core. Many of the papers mirror assignments in Writing Success. Here is the link : http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_C.pdf The appendix has the sample papers.
Where would I start a ten grader in this writing program? It seems silly to start writing book reports. Am I correct?
You may review the student’s past writing and make sure the student has mastered all the preliminary skills in each kind of writing.
I have an advanced seventh grader. I would like to use your program. How many years will I be able to use it?
You will be able to use this program throughout high school. You will notice the high school research paper differs substantially from the college research paper and the literary response paper differs from the advanced college literary analysis. The two should not be attempted until after your student have worked on rudimentary writing skills.
My student has no interest in going to college, is this program right for every student?
This program is for college-bound students who want to prepare for the rigor, critical thinking and challenges of college writing. It will serve nearly any student but some students who are still struggling with writing a complete sentence might find this program too rigorous. Many reluctant writers do like the fact that the writing exercises are timed and simple and that format writing guides them step-by-step.
Your writing curriculum almost seems too easy and yet it is comprehensive. Is it that easy?
Yes, and you will find reluctant writers and even special needs students like it because the steps are so simple.
Inspire the writer questions:
Is your book, Inspire the Writer in Your Child an online course?
No, the book is meant to be fun with lots of hands-on writing workshop method for reluctant or writers who may have discouraged in the writing process.
May I do the twenty lessons in three weeks?
You may do the lessons in any matter that you like, however, if the lessons are done too close together the student will not have an opportunity to really enjoy and look forward to the process. Additionally, some young writers do not have sufficient fine motor skills to maintain a rigid writing schedule.
May I photocopy the book for use in my home-school cooperative or private school?
No, the book is protected under US copyright laws. The book may only be used by single families. Quantity discounts are available. We also have a licensed CD of the forms that you may purchase. We ask you to please abide by our requests and to be a good example to the students that you teach.
Why did you include handwriting and fine motor tips in the curriculum?
Many young writers need to develop fine motor and handwriting skills so fun activities to develop these were included. The handwriting exercises are fun and may be included with some of the writing lessons.
Do we have to do the lessons in order?
You do not necessarily have to do the lessons in order but it is essential to do the first lesson first because it sets the tone for the workshop method. Students learn from the first lesson even the best writers accept literary criticism.