Beginning with this year’s freshman class, students now take a newly formatted version of the SAT. Educational Testing Services changed the current math and reading sections and added a writing component. Part of the writing section includes an essay that is critiqued by high school teachers and college professors. Currently, the University does not place considerable importance on these essays, or on the rest of the writing section score, when considering applicants. This is partially due to the fact that there are no guidelines to determine the score’s merit.
As an institution that boasts strong academics in all colleges as well as numerous awards and honors, the University has a responsibility to set a precedent and standard on the level of writing its accepted students are expected to possess. The admissions office should send a message to other colleges and universities and to primary and secondary educators that strong writing skills are important.
Countless professors at Villanova have been known to tell students they grade papers based on what they write and not how they write. Perhaps they truly don’t care how ideas are expressed, but more likely, they have grown weary trying to fight students’ bad writing. This trend is present at most institutions and not simply unique to the University. As students, we are constantly told that how we write may affect our ability to get a job after graduation. Strong writing skills are valued in the “real world.”
Should the foundations of strong writing, grammar, spelling and sentence structure, have been taught much sooner than at the university level? Yes, but currently, this is not being done. Now that employers are voicing their desires to have skilled writers as employees, it is up to the University to pass this message along to its students and to high schools by placing more emphasis on the writing portion of the SAT. Perhaps then the proper grammar lessons will filter down the educational hierarchy.
Regardless, the current writing ability of many college students is less than desirable. Students shamelessly confess that they either cannot write, do not read or do not consider good writing an important asset to have (or some combination of the three). While no one is demanding perfection, a basic understanding of the writing process seems to be lacking in the average Villanova student, an otherwise intelligent individual.
Employers have made it clear that proficient writing has a place outside of the academic world. It is up to the University to emphasize this importance both in the classroom setting and in its basic academic values.