College prep 101: Focus on key writing skills

College Prep 101: Key writing skills help high schoolers earn higher test scores, write quality college application essays, and become a better communicators

STRONG WRITING SKILLS will help your student earn higher test scores, write quality college application essays, and become a better communicator. That’s the good news.

But as I shared recently, there’s bad news too: many college students possess dismal writing skills and are not adequately prepared for rigorous coursework.

I know this is pretty disheartening. It can be easy to give in to gloom and discouragement. Instead, let’s look at positive, practical ways to equip our teens for college-level writing.

Cover the Basics

The requirements are pretty simple, really: focus on basic but key writing skills throughout junior high and high school to adequately prepare your students.

Make sure your teens regularly write quality compositions and papers. Specifically, they should know how to write a:

  • Professional email
  • Business letter
  • Résumé
  • Clear, well-organized essay (both persuasive and expository)
  • Research paper

Minimally, by the time your teens graduates from high school, they should at least know how to:

Plan Ahead

If you teach these foundational writing skills early, you’ll still have time to introduce advanced writing and longer, more specific essays in 11th and 12th grade, including:

  • Literary analysis
  • Different types of essays (cause/effect, compare/contrast, reflection, argument, definition, etc.)
  • Research papers of various lengths

So make a plan. Keep working on your teen’s grammar and writing skills, and give purposeful writing assignments on a regular basis. Otherwise, writing will keep dropping to the bottom of the stack—and your teen will be in for a rude awakening when his college years begin.

Catch the Whole Series

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College prep 101: Take deadlines seriously

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College prep 101: Limit social network time

College prep 101: Teach responsible study habits

Photo: ccarlstead, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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2 comments ↓

#1 JoJo Tabares on 06.17.10 at 8:33 am

My dd graduated two years ago. In preparing her for college, we found just how important all communication skills are to college prep. Primarily writing skills but also other communication skills as well. College interviews are also important. Additionally, communication skills are vital for college life after acceptance. Studies show the better a student is able to communicate orally, the better he or she will do in the class. Oral communication helps in class discussion and allows the student to learn more during the class. It also gives the teacher an opportunity to evaluate how well the student grasps the concepts.

#2 Kim on 06.17.10 at 9:00 am

You’re right on all counts, JoJo—I couldn’t agree more. I discovered this with my own kids as well. There’s so much good info to pass along—I just focus on writing, since that’s the emphasis of the blog. :)

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