The Difference between High School and College Writing

Categories: High school

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the otherhand at the same time? I can admit that this is something that I did not previously know. I find itfascinating how someone can multitask at such a skillful level. Unfortunately, this essay is notgoing to be about Leonardo de Vinci or his interesting talents oranything like that.

Actually, it is about the differences between highschool and college writing. So how does that random fact aboutLeonardo de Vinci apply to the topic? I believe that writing is a skillthat can be used to express rather then just spew out facts.

Throughwriting, you can “enter a conversation,” try to persuade your reader,or use research to, in a sense, “draw” emotion or thought from your reader.

Writing consists of somuch more then the “five-paragraph outline” that high school teachers make you worship.Although you may not be able to physically write and draw at the same time, you can do sometaphorically through writing.

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According to Lorna Collier, students feel that “informal writing” such as blogging,texting, emailing, and so on hinders them in “formal writing.”

Although their informal writing” display an extraordinary rhetorical savviness and acumen about audience, about using evidence,about genre conventions, about timing—,” They believe that “real” writing is only what they dofor school. Many high school students find a difference in writing outside of the classroombecause they are not worried about grammar or format; because of this, they believe they are notwriting correctly and therefore are encumbered from writing well in school.

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In an article from theNational Writing Project, it says that “In a survey of Advanced Placement and National WritingProject teachers, a majority say digital tools encourage students to be more invested in theirwriting by encouraging personal expression and providing a wider audience for their work”(Purcell, Buchanan, Friedrich, 1).

When did making sure that themargins were exactly one-inch thick all the way around and that the only font used was TimesNew Roman become the primary goal of writing that high school teachers drill into theirstudents’ heads? Instead of making writing an open concept where students can explore newpossibilities and styles, high school limits students so that the onlything they are concerned about is making sure they wrote down all ofthe main points in the allotted 500-800 words with impeccablegrammar.

Don’t get me wrong, grammar is indeed very important; itgesets apart the imbecilic from the intelligent. However, it does notneed to be the only thing that is practiced in high school writing.Informal writing can actually be quite beneficial to formal writing. When you are writingan email to a friend or when you are commenting on Tumblr, are you extremely concerned aboutpunctuation or are you simply trying to convey your ideas or thoughts to a specified audience?Most likely, you are doing the latter.

I believe that doing so is a valuable form of writing, in thatit does not call for excellent format but for wit and style, emotion and thought. In my collegeEnglish class, we do an exercise called pre-writing before we write our rough draft. Pre-writingis when we just brain storm and write every thought on the topic that we have without puttingour pencils down.

I never did this in high school, so when I first tried in college, I was concernedabout punctuation and making sure I had complete sentences; however, it has become one of themost beneficial exercises for me because it allows me to write down my thoughts all at once andreally think outside the box. I am convinced that my papers could have conveyed so much morethought and expression had I done this in high school.

Now, I’m not saying that you should just brain storm and turn this in as your school assignment, but I believe that there is somethingmissing in high school writing that exercises like this help draw out: emotion.Yes, emotion is what is lacking in high school papers. There is no point of view, there isno “entering the conversation,” there is no audience, and there is no conveying of previousthought or emotion in most high school writing because it is not taught. This is my secondsemester writing in college, and I still have a hard time with this.

Traditional thinking  outside the boxbecause it has been drilled into my brain that I need to write acertain way, and I know that unfortunately the same thing ishappening to you as well. Collier said that most students rankedtime management and persistence highly, but openness to newideas fell near the bottom. Why would high school teachers limitopenness to new ideas? That is one of the most vital things that is necessary for engagingwriting. My college professor always tells us to “think outside the box,” and that is what I wouldlike to tell you to do as well.

Your college writing will be so much more improved if you practicethis learned skill now instead of waiting until you’re already in college, staying up until 3a.m.writing a paper that you don’t know how to write.Going back to the example of you writing an email or commenting on Tumblr, there isanother thing you are doing besides conveying thought and emotion: you are writing to aspecified audience. High school ill-prepares its students for writing to an audience.

In highschool, most of the time I just wrote down facts from the Internet that I found and that was that.However, a vital key to knowing how to write effectively is finding and writing to an audience.College professors try to drill into our minds that writing to an audience is one of the mostfundamental pieces of writing. I never even thought of an audience when I wrote papers in high school.

I always thought that doing so was too informal and sounded too elementary, so I neverexplored the possibility of actually writing to a person. Now that I’m in college, though, I can’twrite anything without thinking of my audience, because what is the point of writing if youaren’t writing to anyone? This is another example of how high school keeps you fromexperiencing true writing. This concept, however, is one that I can show you through example:this paper.

I am writing to you, Savannah, and hopefully you will begin using this skill now.As you have most likely gleaned, I do not believe that high school properly equipsstudents for college level writing. I interviewed Emily, a college friend of mine, and she said thatall of her high school writing was very literature based. All she did was write book reports andessays on things she had read.

However, college has taught her how to review and critique notonly other writing but places and things and hobbies and events as well. College writing makesyou do research to establish an opinion or point of view so you can, as I’ve said before, enter theconversation. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned and am still learning how todo.

In high school, I only ever used to write facts and then end my paper with the famous lines“so in conclusion …. “I believe that I am learning skills that I never even scratched the surfaceof in high school, and I hope that you can heed my warning and start thinking out of the box aswell, for it will only benefit you as you advance in learning.

Works Cited

  1. Collier, Lorna. “Listening to Students: New Insight on Their College-WritingExpectations.” The Council Chronicle. March 2014. 10-12. Print.
  2. Hardin, Emily. Personal Interview. 5 February 2015.
  3. Purcell, Kristen; Buchanan, Judy; Friedrich, Linda. “The Impact of Digital Tools onStudent Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools.” The National WritingProject. 16 July 2013. 1. Print.

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The Difference between High School and College Writing. (2021, Oct 05). Retrieved from

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