In high school, essay writing was essentially just a formula.
The repetition of the words “point, proof, analysis” was consistent throughout all four years. I didn’t seem to mind this at all considering that math was always my favourite subject growing up. Structure and clarity were both stressed when essays were assigned and it became second nature for most students. I began to get used to this way of writing which I would argue to be both good and bad. On the positive side, essays quickly became easy to me and I created a great foundation of knowledge on essay writing. However, I think that creativity is an extremely important aspect of literature; I had never truly experienced that side of writing because I’ve just been following the same method throughout high school.
So why is everyone telling me that University writing is completely different?! I get that high school teachers emphasized the structure of an essay to create a foundation of writing for us, but that just makes me feel even more unprepared for University. No one really told me how to write for a professor. Maybe it’s because all professors are expecting different things. Now that I’m comfortable with the way essays were written in high school, it seems bizarre to me to think that it’s mostly going to change and no one is going to tell me the exact way to do it. I remember learning how to write a proper thesis in high school, it started off as one sentence; and as we got older it became 2-3 sentences. Then my grade 12 English teacher told the class that in University, we might have to write a thesis that is several pages long. Based on what I currently know about writing a thesis, that just sounds insane!
The University of Toronto has a section in their website that displays the difference between high school and University writing, making it clear that it’s not going to be anywhere near the same. The chart definitely shows that there are major differences between high school and University writing. But even with that, it is still too vague to give University students a true template to follow.
I’ve been trained to follow the rules and guidelines that teachers set out for me, and now I’m free to have my own style of writing. The freedom is unusual and frankly nerve-racking to think about. I genuinely believe that high school teachers are not preparing students for University writing as they should. I can say through my own experience that I do not feel prepared for the expectations of my professors and I wish I was pushed harder in high school. Going into University today, I am expecting/open to learning new styles and techniques of writing. I am hoping to create my personal style of writing on top of the structure that I have already been accustomed to. But for now, I’ll just have to see how it goes and hope that my knowledge on writing is good enough to begin.