As the semester winds down, as per usual, I find myself scheduling multiple appointments with all of my academic advisors. My LSA advisor is actually the one who recommended my application to the Minor in Writing in the first place. I looked forward to speaking with him and sharing what has been an extremely positive experience overall. However, as we shared stories there was one question that had both, usually chatty individuals, at a loss of words. Why is there not a greater emphasis on the development of writing skills in higher education, or at least at the University of Michigan?
I worked extensively with a couple other students in the Minor earlier in the semester on ways that we could recruit students to apply for our program. One of the most effective methods that we found was to convey to our peers the wide breadth of areas in which stronger writing will be of benefit. This has become painfully obvious to me, as I fill out countless applications for summer internships. Maybe it is solely the field of work that I am interested in but every single position highly recommends that all applicants have strong communication skills and some explicitly say strong writing abilities. The rationale behind these recommendations are quite obvious—communication skills are absolutely essential for a business to run smoothly. It is also painfully clear when these skills are not stressed enough. I worked for a school district the last couple of summers, and my boss constantly infuriated his employees due to his inability to express orders. This led to a lack of productivity amongst workers and feelings of resentment when projects weren’t completed in a timely fashion.
Currently the University only mandates that students take courses that fulfill the “First Year Writing Requirement” as well as the “Upper Level Writing Requirement.” However, neither of these classes necessarily has to have an emphasis on composition, which seems counter-intuitive. Often these courses force students to write copious amounts, but this process is usually simply writing for an agenda. There is little actual reflection on the writing process, or introspective work that truly develops student’s abilities.
Have I allowed my personal bias from this program affect my opinions on writing? Am I being unrealistic in thinking that it would be in all students best interests to have a stronger focus on this field? Regardless, I never in a million years would have thought to write a blog post like this before this class. So, maybe everyone should be required to Minor in Writing… wishful thinking.