Why Study Writing?
(from "Student Guide to the First-Year Writing Program," The Virginia
Tech First-Year Writing Program, Guide for Students 2000-2001; http://www.english.vt.edu/~1styear/sg.html)
We know what you're thinking. "I've been learning to read and write in
school for thirteen years! Why am I required to take composition again in college?"
"People who can't write don't last very long around here. We can't afford
--Scientific Consulting Firm Executive
"If you want to move up to an executive position, you have to build good
writing skills. You can't make it without that."
--Rick Lipton, Marketing Representative
"Scientists and engineers who do not have the ability to write effectively
will be greatly handicapped in the furtherance of their careers, no matter how
brilliant or competent they may otherwise be."
--Wesley P. Gross, Chairman of the Board of the Magma Copper Company
"New graduates routinely experience `shock at the amount of writing that
is required by the employer in the routine performance of the job' and `shock
. . . over the bearing that the quality of their writing has on their success
in the position, both in terms of . . . salary and promotions.'"
--John Long (Virginia Tech Graduate), Joint Legislative Audit and Review
- College-educated workers spend, on average, 20 to 25% of their time at work
writing, no matter what their degree fields or professions. One study found
that professional and technical employees spend 29% of their total work time
writing. An MIT study of Exxon found that engineers and intermediate managers
spend 30% of their time writing, while supervisors spend 40% of their time
- Writing is a crucial job-related skill for college graduates. Ninety-six
percent (96%) of Virginia Tech alumni report that strong writing abilities
are "important" or "very important" in their jobs. In
a survey of successful engineers averaging 33 years of experience on the job,
95% said that their writing abilities are "very important or of critical
importance in their positions."
- Writing ability affects a worker's prospects for advancement. In one study,
89% of the respondents said that "a person's need for writing ability
increases as he or she is promoted." In a survey of 245 people listed
in Engineers of Distinction, 89% of the respondents "reported that the
ability to write is usually an `important' or `critical' consideration when
someone is being evaluated for advancement."
- College-educated workers prepare many different kinds of documents on the
job. One study found that such workers wrote "an average of 8.5 different
types of letters, memos, and reports per week."
- Studies consistently find "that poor writing is a problem in the workplace,"
that new employees "tend to have a higher estimation of their own writing
abilities than do their managers," and that "new college graduates
are generally perceived as writing poorly." Eighty percent (80%) of the
managers surveyed at 402 firms nationwide said most of their employees need
to improve their writing skills.
(Back to SKKU) One reason not to learn to write well:
Several of the graduates of the English Language Program report that co-workers
and superiors often ask them for help in writing reports and letters, even in
Korean language. If you don't know how to write, no one will bother you with
requests for advice.