A mentor of mine once shared with me that most students graduating from college expect to be able to write well enough not to be embarrassed when submitting reports to their boss. His point was that a student’s expectation of earning a college degree included this ability IN ADDITION to the content knowledge of the major being studied.
I’ve thought about that many times over the years since I first heard that. I’ve talked with students and have become convinced that what my mentor said still holds true. The very nature of graduating with a college degree SHOULD include the ability to write at a professional level. Sadly, I also know that even as students hold this expectation, they will do almost anything in their power to avoid learning this important skill. It is one of those mysterious paradoxes which surround us.
This reminds me of what I learned about sermon preparation; that we start with the audience’s felt needs and then work toward their real need. Students’ felt need is to get through each course with as little work as possible. Their real need is the ability to write and to embrace the subject content. As Instructors, the one cannot be neglected at the expense of the other. Whenever we default on holding students to a high expectation in writing we fail them at a deeper level which can potentially sidetrack their career and derail their dreams.
I know it is challenging and time-consuming to do so, but I cannot urge you strongly enough not to neglect your responsibility to your students to do what they may not want but desperately need; hold them to a high standard in writing. By doing so you serve the student now AND facilitate their future.