Why It Matters: Writing in College

Why learn to think beyond the five-paragraph essay?

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College writing is different from high school writing. College professors view you as independent scholars and imagine you writing with a genuine, driving interest in tackling complex questions. They envision you approaching an assignment without a pre-existing bias. They expect you to look deep into the evidence, consider the broader scholarly conversation about the issues, and work out an original, insightful argument.

This module will introduce you to various rhetorical styles, or patterns of writing, that will set you up for success, no matter the writing assignment. Knowing how to approach these assignments and learning some tips for effective essay-writing will set up the foundation for you to go beyond a contrived or formulaic response to a writing prompt. Writing a paper isn’t about getting the “right answer” and adhering to basic conventions; it’s about joining an academic conversation with something original to say and contribute, borne of rigorous thought.

Sometimes a college writing assignment doesn’t even look like a “writing” assignment at all—it could be a presentation, a video report, or even a blog post. While these types of multimodal assignments may not require a traditional five-paragraph essay, they still necessitate critical thinking and writing skills and can be approached the same way as you would other written assignments.