Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. and
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Writing skills can be the ticket to better college grades and greater academic achievement.
This article introduces a few techniques for applying writing skills to college success.
But this good advice will be lost on you if you don't believe writing skills are important
and can help you achieve academic mastery. Our job is to convince you. To begin with, the
overwhelming majority of instructors we surveyed said that writing skills are critical to
And if you see yourself as one of those college students who will say "Phew" when the
syllabus reveals only exams and no papers, what happens when those exams turn out to
be essay tests? This article suggests a few ways to raise your grade on those exams simply
by employing the principles of good writing -- even if you study no harder and know the
material no better than you do now.
Perhaps you've heard that no one cares about your grades once you leave the halls of
academia. While that notion holds some truth, it is equally true that most potential
employers do care about writing skills. They care so much that they bemoan the poor
preparation of the entry-level pool of grads. In a labor force full of mediocre
writers, someone who writes well is bound to stand out and succeed.
Academicians and business people view writing skills as crucial, yet increasing numbers
of these professionals note a steady erosion in the writing abilities of graduates.
The summary of a study published in Personnel Update states: "Writing skills ... of
executives are shockingly low, indicating that schools and colleges dismally fail
with at least two-thirds of the people who pass through the education pipeline coming
out unable to write a simple letter."
In 1988, Lin Grensing reported that 79 percent of surveyed executives cited writing
as one of the most neglected skills in the business world, yet one of the most
important to productivity. A 1992 survey of 402 companies reported by the
Associated Press noted that executives identified writing as the most valued skill
but said 80 percent of their employees at all levels need to improve. The number of
workers needing improvement in writing skills was up 20 percent from results of the
same survey in 1991. Results of a 1993 study by Olsten Corp., a placement agency,
were almost identical: 80 percent of 443 employers surveyed said their workers
needed training in writing skills.
The need for workers with writing skills will only increase. A 1991 report by the U.S.
Labor Department noted that most future jobs will require writing skills.