Good writing skills remain a vital requirement for employment and advancement, so I welcome the occasional blog post on the subject. Hopefully teachers will share this post, or some of the ideas expressed in it, with their students. – KW
No matter what your field of study, no matter what you intend to do with your life after college, there is one constant that will always remain true: excellent communication skills are vital for your success. That includes your ability to both speak and write intelligently.
The latter is likely most important at this stage of your life since so much of your college education is likely to revolve around writing. You will have (or already have) numerous essays, term papers, and the like to deliver over the course of earning your degree, and these papers are assigned with the purpose of gauging several things.
Term papers gauge your understanding of a given subject and your ability to articulate that understanding in a certain way. With that in mind, let's look at five areas of student life that are directly affected by your ability or inability to communicate in writing and how developing that skill can lead to future successes in work or business.
#1 – You Will Get Better Grades, Period
The sad truth of the matter is that most people's writing skills are generally awful, as the average college professor will attest. Proper sentence and paragraph structure alone will net you major points with your professor.
Professors love to read work written by a talented paper writer. Not making him or her trundle through run-on sentences, unchecked misspellings or poorly-worded ideas will in and of themselves net you a superior grade. This is true even if the paper is a little light in the information category, but there are ways to improve that, too.
#2 – You will Expand Your Vocabulary
If you find that you repeat words and phrases often, you might find it helpful to consult with a thesaurus and discover synonyms or synonymous phrases to keep from coming off as too repetitive. The result is that you will learn more words and be better equipped to articulate your ideas more reasonably in the future. This is helpful in both academic and professional settings.
The need to communicate well doesn't end when you earn your degree. That's just the beginning. Employers value employees that make the organization look good. An employee who communicates well both in writing and verbally is a significant asset. Moreover, good communicators are often considered first for executive positions even if they have less schooling and experience than other qualified candidates.
#3 – You Will Learn Rules of Grammar
People who don't understand or use proper grammar are often ridiculed over social media and other online communities. While we won't condone shaming someone for lacking understanding in this area, the fact that it raises so many people's hackles is reason enough to take the matter seriously.
Understanding and using good grammar (along with proper syntax and use of homophones like “there” “they're” and “their”) will not only impress your professor on a term paper, it will save you the embarrassment of the “grammar police” shining a spotlight on your lack of understanding of the rules of language.
One thing you can do to develop better skills in these areas is to start running everything you write through Grammarly. It is a free service that will not only point out many common mistakes in grammar and syntax; it will also educate you about those rules and help you keep from repeating the same mistakes on future papers.
#4 – You Will Learn How to Perform Responsible Research
One of the things that plagues much of academia these days is the inability of many students to conduct ethical research and make good use of source material in essays and papers. There are some things to keep in mind when doing research that will help you far beyond your college years.
For starters, it is crucial to identify credible sources. Before the advent of the Internet, this was much easier. Most citations came from published works that have been verified by the publisher to ensure that the material doesn't sully their reputation. Before the Internet, this process was much more meticulous and thorough.
The advent of user-generated content has given rise to sources like Wikipedia that are open for anyone and everyone to contribute content. The problem there is that much of that content is unverified and even written with various biases built in.
The excellent source material is neutral in its presentation of ideas. The goal of the research is to take factual, verifiable information and make it fit your argument or thesis. Always be sure that you are tapping credible sources before adding a website to your works cited or bibliography page(s), for example, EBSCO, Google Scholar, World Digital Library. Get into the habit of taking the extra steps to do this now, and you will find that it has a positive effect on your ability to reason and analyze data in the future.
#5 – You Will Stand Out Amongst Your Peers
This is especially true if you are required to write an essay as part of an application or an application for graduate school. Many jobs require it, and it is a requirement for acceptance into most graduate programs. Just like impressing your profs in undergrad courses, a good acceptance essay can help you secure a place in the graduate program you choose. It will also sway the odds in your favor when applying for jobs for reasons we've already tackled above.
The world will always judge you by your communication skills. Especially in this modern world of texts and emails, the ability to write well is one of the first indicators many people will get your overall intelligence and education. Commit to developing these core skills now so you can reap the benefits of having them later on.