The casual writing that you find in blogs and other non-academic sources is different from the essays and writing assignments you will be faced with upon entering college. Even if you're more comfortable with casual writing, keeping in mind a few key points will help you produce effective college-level writing.
What Is College Writing?
College-level writing most often takes the form of essays and dissertations. Unless you are actually studying creative writing, most college professors will expect clear, concise essays that prove your point. Essays are generally shorter pieces that you will complete during class time or outside of it. Dissertations are lengthier pieces and are generally a component of your final year of study or a part of your advanced degree requirements. With either type of product, the goal is to relay information for the purpose of achieving a good grade.
What Is Casual Writing?
Casual writing is done on a non-professional or non-collegiate basis. Consider it the "fun" writing. Blogs, tweets and Facebook posts are all forms of casual writing. Diary entries and journals also fall under this category. This type of writing does not always have to adhere to all the rules of grammar and punctuation, as college-level writing should.
Stating Your Opinion/Argument
In casual writing, you are often writing about your opinions. In fact, opinions are what drive the pieces you see from casual sources, such as blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts. However, when approaching an essay for a college class, you must provide a clear thesis or argument. Professors expect you to have thought carefully about what you want to say. They want to see an interesting claim that will encourage them to read more. It is also important to address some of the arguments against your claim. Your goal should be to convince your instructor that your thesis has more merit than any opposing arguments suggest.
Supporting Your Argument
In casual writing you are rarely required to support your opinions. The writer of a casual piece may give reasons for why she believes a certain way, but you are not required to support your opinion with research in casual writing. You can present your ideas with a "take it or leave it" attitude. In college-level writing, however, providing support is quite possibly the most important aspect. Professors expect research. Your essays should include direct quotations or paraphrased support from other works that backs up your argument. It is also important that you cite your sources correctly. Your professor will inform you of which citation style he prefers: MLA or APA.
Alicia Anthony is a seasoned educator with more than 10 years classroom experience in the K-12 setting. She holds a Master of Education in literacy curriculum and instruction and a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She is completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing: fiction, and working on a novel.