The semester is coming to an end. My developmental writers are getting ready to hand in their last essays. Most have shown great improvement and proven that they can write at a level that will mean success at the college level. They are more confident writers who are no longer intimidated by having to write “formal” essays for class. They are more critical and active readers who are more adapt at approaching their work, more aware of the need to adapt their skills depending on the task at hand.
Which I know they will promptly forget how to do the moment they leave my class. Or they will become over-confident in their abilities. Or, they will let college life get the better of them, with teachers who (rightfully) don’t build in a lot of time for revision and feedback for assignments.
One of my biggest pet-peeves is when a professor from another department learns that I teach developmental writing and tells me that we’d better start doing a better job because their students in nursing/engineering/history/whatever can’t write. My answer is now that they could write when they left my classroom. Whether or not they choose to write well in other classes is another issue all together.
My advice to students who are moving on from their developmental writing class or even the more traditional Freshman Writing course is to allow yourselves the opportunity to succeed. Don’t hand in your “first draft” that you wrote the morning before class. Proofread. Adjust your tone. Make sure you’re following directions. Don’t write the same paper for every class. Practice writing any and every chance you get. And remember that a professor can’t evaluate your ideas if they can’t understand them through your writing.
I’ve taught my students methods and strategies to be successful college writers. We’ve practiced them and they have seen that they work. Keep using them in every class. Please. Your college success depends on them.