Putting It Together: Writing in College

Decorative image.

One of the major transitions between high-school writing and college writing is learning to take advantage of a wider set of options for organizing an essay. Choosing the right structure requires you to use your critical thinking skills and select the best fit for your purpose and audience. In this module, we learned that:

  • Effective writing is essential to your success in college.
  • Writing before college often emphasizes formulaic structure, such as the five-paragraph theme or the three-point essay. Those structures are appropriate as an introduction to academic writing because they teach writers to make a point and use evidence to support it in an organized way.
  • Moving beyond the five-paragraph essay is a key component of becoming a successful college writer.
  • Writing assignments can be as varied as the instructors who assign them.
  • Being asked to summarize the key ideas within a source is a common task for many types of writing.
  • Where defined-topic essays demonstrate your knowledge of the content, undefined-topic assignments are used to demonstrate your skills—your ability to perform academic research, to synthesize ideas, and to apply the various stages of the writing process.
  • There are four main types of writing: expository, persuasive, narrative, and descriptive.
  • Some generally recognized rhetorical patterns include argumentative/persuasive, comparison, cause and effect, illustration, narration, description, definition, classification and division, and process.
  • What distinguishes an argumentative essay from a descriptive essay or “report” is that the argument must take a stance; if you’re merely summarizing “both sides” of an issue or pointing out the “pros and cons,” you’re not really writing an argument.
  • Narration is a rhetorical style that focuses on telling a story. Being able to convey events in a clear, descriptive, and compelling language is a common task in many types of writing, including research writing and writing in a range of fields.
  • A mode, quite simply, is a means of communicating. We live in a multimodal world, and it’s critical to be multiliterate – able to read, analyze, and compose a variety of multimodal texts.
  • A presentation gives your audience key information from your work and uses visual support to convey that information efficiently and effectively.


Did you have an idea for improving this content? We’d love your input.

Improve this pageLearn More