On Being Vague
I really struggled with the title of this post, because I don’t want students who already feel insecure about their writing to feel worse. But as I’ll discuss in a later blog post, there is a difference in the type of writing expected of most high school students, and the type of writing expected in college. Those expectations are often left unspoken, which means that students are often left wondering what went wrong.
For this series of posts, I’m going to focus on words, phrases, and other writing habits that students should avoid. I asked other college teachers, online, for things they commonly see in college papers that drive them crazy, make them worry about their students’ skills, and just in general signal that the student doesn’t yet have a good handle on how to write well in a college setting. Fifty-seven college teachers across multiple disciplines responded, and when I wrote up the original blog post as a Word doc, I had five pages of material.
But wait! Don’t freak out. The reason I have five pages is because in addition to telling you what students often get wrong, I’m also going to tell you why those things aren’t appropriate, and how to do better. My goal is to help you develop a writing style that conveys “young professional” and not “high school holdover.”