My Personal Experience
Writing well is hard to do. I know this from personal experience. I was fortunate enough to attend a wonderful university. In my freshman year, my essays kept coming back with the same grade:
“B+. Great ideas. Work on your writing.”
“B+. Interesting thesis. Next time write a 2nd draft before submitting.”
“B+. I like where this is going. Consider taking a writing class.”
It wasn’t until I took a writing seminar that I was able to excel in my classes. I encouraged my younger brother to work on his writing skills. He didn’t heed my advice. He went to a fantastic school, but didn’t flourish academically. Same story: good ideas buried in mediocre writing.
You might think: “That’s OK. My kids are into STEM.” Think again. My daughter just finished applying to PhD programs in computer science. Did these schools simply say, “Send us some code?” No. She wrote essays. My son is currently pursing engineering at a school that specializes in STEM. He’s being asked to write all the time.
You can run, but you can’t hide!
You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what John Hennessey, former President of Stanford,
has to say:
"[In college] we had a notion that engineers had to know how to use slide rules or calculators or computers but not how to write. And that is the biggest falsehood you could possibly perpetrate on young people. I think writing and rhetoric -- public speaking -- are the two most valuable skills across any discipline in any field."
Here is a link to Stanford’s website: Writing Matters.
Writing as a Gatekeeper
Here in the Bay Area, I am seeing more and more students applying to private schools. Did you know that many private schools now require a proctored writing sample - in addition to admissions essays?
Many families are planning on applying to highly selective universities. Did you know that many admissions professionals consider the essay a key part of the college application? Once the application pool is ‘compressed’ down to the point where everyone is academically comparable, it comes down to the essays, who you are, and how you fit into the class.
Are Your Kids Good Writers?
I asked a close friend recently, “Do you think our local High School teach kids to write well?” Her response: “NO. It’s abysmal. And everyone is focused on STEM.”
I have many ‘mathy’ kids in my programs. I imagine for most of them, writing well is even more challenging. I want to help.