Do you think of yourself as a writer? Probably not, especially if you think that writers are poets, novelists, or journalists. But we all write, every day: sometimes informally to friends in emails or text messages, sometimes just for ourselves (shopping lists, a personal journal, or a diary), and sometimes more formally, whether it be a letter to our landlord, a job application, or a paper for a college course.
To be effective, all writing needs to be done with an awareness of the reader’s perspective and needs, as well as an awareness of the conventions that are considered “acceptable” for that type of writing. You would never write to a potential employer in the following way: “Hey dude, gimme a job!”
Academic writing is no different. At the college level, part of what you’re learning—in addition to the knowledge specific to your major and necessary for your career—is how to communicate in a professional way that is informed, knowledgeable, and clear. Once you start taking upper-level courses in your major, you will also learn the specific conventions particular to your discipline. Engineers need to write in ways that are different from how psychologists write. TCNJ’s writing intensive curriculum is designed to help students become proficient writers who can communicate clearly and effectively to an array of audiences for a range of purposes.
But the other part of writing that often gets overlooked is its usefulness as a way to learn something—a method of learning. To write about a topic is necessarily also a way of exploring it, seeing if you understand the relationship among ideas, and internalizing the information so that you can explain it in your own words.
You can expect that your professors here at TCNJ will include writing in their courses in diverse ways to help you master central concepts. There are many resources on this website that will help you become good writers, so please explore!