With so much of the current focus and emphasis on STEM college programs and careers, so-called “soft skills” and liberal arts areas such as writing tend to get pushed to the back burner or ignored altogether. But even if you are studying data science or believe that technology and artificial intelligence will eventually make words written by humans obsolete, the truth might actually surprise you. From helping you think more clearly to providing the tools that are necessary to communicate your ideas so people can easily understand them, a good writing foundation has benefits for every field of study and career path. Here are several reasons why learning to write in college is important.
Why Everyone Needs to Learn to Write in College
You don’t have to be an aspiring journalist or novelist to benefit from clear, concise and persuasive writing skills. For starters, many of your college courses, even in more analytical and numbers-oriented areas such as science and math, require a certain level of reading comprehension and writing skills (which are interlinked). Everyone from physicists and engineers to video game designers and marketing executives must be a good storyteller on some level in order to connect with co-workers, customers and a larger audience.
Here’s another fact about writing skills — for every major and career path — that might surprise you. According to an industry study, good writing skills are often the gateway to getting an interview (and ultimately getting hired) across a number of professional sectors ranging from finance to real estate. Think about it. Your resume and cover letter are the first impression that you will make on recruiters and prospective employers. In a competitive job market, having solid writing skills is the edge that can put you at the top of the pile and help you distinguish yourself.
What If Writing Doesn’t Come Naturally?
If you struggle with writing, college is the perfect place to build on your skills. You don’t have to be an English major or aspire to be the next Ernest Hemingway to benefit from writing instruction. In fact, you don’t necessarily have to take a creative writing or literature class (unless your school or program requires it). There are many different forms of writing, including business, technical, academic and journalistic, and depending on your academic and career goals, an expository or essay writing class may help you brush up on your basic writing skills while giving you the opportunity to explore your creativity and ideas.
Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills in College
Although it is typically referred to as a “soft skill,” the ability to think critically and solve complex problems is a vital life and career skill. Think of critical thinking and effective problem-solving as the bridge that links the liberal arts world to the STEM people. Whether you are reporting on political unrest around the globe for The New York Times or designing computer software for a technology company, figuring out how to solve a problem and communicate the solution so that people from all walks of life can clearly understand it is the primary objective of any project. According to the Grammarly blog:
“Great writing requires observation, reflection, analysis, and an artful presentation of information, in addition to selecting information in the editing process. Critical thinking is the discipline of ‘actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing . . . information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’ By improving your writing, you can improve your thinking.”
Speak to an adviser and research your college’s writing classes to find a good fit, and ask for recommendations to help you get started. It can be overwhelming at first, but reading good writing is also a great place to start.