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Writing Center preps high school students for college work

Summer Writing Institute launches in August to teach high school graduates and rising seniors how to write for college

Writing center - hands on keyboard

The UH Writing Center is expanding its mission to improve the writing of the campus community by assisting students before they enroll in college.

In August, the center launches its Summer Writing Institute – a four-day intensive workshop for rising high school seniors and incoming college freshmen. The curriculum is designed to build up students’ confidence in their writing and help them determine what is the best approach and tone to use for the variety of writing assignments they will encounter in college.

“I’ve seen someone who made an 800 verbal SAT but was a terrible writer,” said Writing Center Director Dr. Marjorie Chadwick. A writing intervention before the first day of college can help students ease into college writing, even if they excelled in English language and literature classes in high school.

“Students have to learn how to write to the context of the assignment and the preference of the professor,” she said. “We show them how to do that.”

Some of the most frequently asked questions by student writers are:

  • What do instructors want?
  • How do I get started?
  • How should I spend limited time editing papers?

Chadwick and two other instructors – Steve Liparulo (Ph.D. in English) and Kyung-Hee Bae (master’s in linguistics) will answer those questions and provide solutions to other common writing problems during the summer institute, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., August 8 – 11.

For example, trying to figure out what a professor wants may be challenging but is not impossible. “Faculty expectations for student writing often come expressed in a confusing variety of terms, but usually boil down to purpose, audience, and format,” said Chadwick, who has a Ph.D. in English.

Beginning an essay starts with decoding the writing assignment and planning a manageable process to complete it. Self-editing can be refined and less time-consuming if students follow “a few important stylistic guidelines that often lead to substantial improvements,” Chadwick said.

The writing workshop series costs $450 per person, which includes all the materials. Students will have a pre-workshop assignment that will be used as the basis for a detailed assessment of each student’s writing. Then, it’s on to such exercises as writing a formal business email and synthesizing college-level reading.

To enroll or for more information, please contact Dr. Marjorie Chadwick (mchadwick@uh.edu).