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Johnita Johnson

Professor Schmertz

English 3305

2 March 2022

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College Writing

There is no standard set rule to follow in regards to college writing. College writing involves several different facets. The type of position a writer takes on a subject determines the direction of the writing. College writing varies for each individual student. Some college students enter college directly after high school, others like myself enter college later in life. Both of these aspects play a role in how a student understands the depth of college writing. There is no one set of rules in good college writing. Different factors determine whether a paper will be considered good college writing. Here are a few ways college papers can be deemed as academically acceptable. Understanding the expectations of the professor, having a strong thesis statement as well as the writer being able to either make an argument, state a claim, point, or summarize a previous author’s works. In this essay I will discuss different ways in which a student can be effective in their writing.

To reiterate, a thesis statement is the sentence that tells the reader/readers what point, claim or argument the writer is trying to establish. The thesis states what the topic of a paper is going to be. Thonney describes why a topic is important in a student’s writing. “By explaining why their topic is important, how their topic approach is unique, or even why they chose to write about a topic, students set apart from papers that lack purpose”. (Thonney p. 350). The next approach in good college writing would be to decide what type of stance in which the writer will take. As we proceed we will discuss how an argument is portrayed in college writing.

In writing, an argument is merely a conversation between different parties with different points of views on the same subject. Arguments are not viewed as conflict in writing. “Just because much argumentative writing is driven by disagreement, it does not follow that agreement is ruled out” (Graff and Birkenstein p.8). In writing an argument has to be followed by evidence or reasoning behind your stance on a particular matter. “In college an argument is something less contentious and more systematic: It is a set of coherently arranged to offer three things that experienced readers expect that they judge to be thoughtful” (Williams and McEnerney). There is not just one way to present an argument. Arguments are based on each individual’s viewpoint; therefore suggesting that arguments are personal opinions. In that case, arguments are needed to justify one’s opinion. “We write not only to state what we have think but also to show why others might agree with it and why it matters” (Williams and McEnerney). Arguments can also lead into making a claim or point. “Planting a naysayer in your text, in which you summarize and then answer a likely objection to your own central claim” (Graff and Birkenstein p. 10). As we move along in this essay we will discuss how making a claim or point functions in college writing.

Williams and McEnerery suggest that a good claim or point typically has several key characteristics.

It says something significant about what you have read, something that helps you and your readers understand it better; it says something that is not obvious, something that your reader didn’t already know; it is at least mildly contestable, something that no one would agree with just by reading it; it asserts something that you can plausibly support in five pages, not something that would require a book.

(Williams and McEnerey).

A claim or point should tie into the thesis as well. “A writer needs to indicate clearly not only his or her thesis, but also what larger conversation that thesis is responding to” (Graff and Birkenstein p.18). Another viewpoint a writer may take is summarizing another writer’s work.

When an instructor requires a student to summarize a paper, it is typically made clear to summarize. Giving a brief overview of another author’s work is summarizing. Papers that involve summarization are clear in instruction. Summarizing is merely paraphrasing another other’s work. Summarizing should not be copied word for word. Summarizing can also be used in the conclusion on an essay.

In summary, there are several ways to classify good college writing. As stated above good college writing is based on what style of writing the student is required to present and what approach the student takes to achieve that goal. Good college writing can be obtained by working through the process of knowing what you are writing about, a strong thesis statement and determining whether you are presenting an argument claim, point or summarizing a subject. One this is determined college writing should be overall achievable. To reiterate there is no standard set of rules in writing, but there is general knowledge about the different styles of writing that helps to build good college writing skills.

Works Cited

Thonney, Teresa. “Teaching the Conventions of Academic Discourse.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, May 2011, pp. 347–362.

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. “They Say/I Say” The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: with Readings. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2012, pp. 1-62

Williams, Joseph M. and Lawrence McEnerney. “Writing in College” Some crucial differences between high school writing and college writing. Chicago., The University of Chicago Writing Program.

Peer review worksheet

Author’s name __________________________

Reviewer’s name ___________________________

Introduction, Thesis, Title, and Conclusion: What is the Paper’s Main Idea?

Where does the author’s
end (what is the last sentence)? Does it provide background or explanation of the writer’s subject?

What is the paper’s
(main idea)? Circle it on the writer’s paper and mark it as “thesis,” or if you can’t identify it, put it in your own words here.

Is the paper’s
an accurate reflection of what the paper contains?


Or could it be more precise? Can you think of a title that might match the paper better?

Where does the writer’s conclusion
begin? Does it remind the reader of the paper’s main idea and how it was proven?

Paragraphing: Organization, Development, Transitions, and Focus

Is the paper divided into multiple body

Does the author use his/her page limit well? Or does he or she need more paragraphs, fewer paragraphs, longer more
paragraphs, shorter  more
paragraphs, etc?

Does each paragraph state its main idea at the beginning, in a
topic sentence
? If not, can you help identify for the writer what the main idea of each of his/her paragraphs might be?

Does the writer use
s to introduce new ideas, paragraphs, or pieces of evidence, such as “Another reason why…” or “On the other hand” or “For example”?

Documentation: Signal Phrases and In-Text Citations, Paraphrasing vs. Quoting

Can you tell where the writer’s evidence and facts come from in every single case? Are there lead-in phrases (
signal phrases
) to let the reader know the writer is introducing a piece of research, like “In the book The Hunger Games….” and “Movie critic Roger Ebert writes….”?

Are there
in-text citations
following every instance of borrowed material, such as: (Collins 56) or (Ebert


)? Circle on the writer’s any passages where you are uncertain where an idea or sentence came from.

Borrowed material must be quoted directly from the original source and framed by quotation marks, or put into your own words (
). Either way, there must be an in-text citation at the end of any information, language or ideas taken from another source. Can you tell when the writer is
directly from the source vs. when s/he is
? Point out any place in the paper where you are not sure.

Sentence Level Concerns: Editing and Proofreading

Editing: Do the writer’s sentences flow logically into each other? Or do some need to be revised, deleted, or moved?

: Is the paper error-free? Or are there unclear sentences, misspellings, missing words/word endings, etc? Find them, circle them, and explain to the writer why they need to be fixed.



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