Writing skills needed in, out of classrooms

Maybe after two years of constantly having to edit articles and cringe when misspelled words make it onto the pages of The Signal, I’ve become overly sensitive. After two years, though, and an additional three as a student at Georgia State, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend – more and more of our student body simply can’t write.

When I state this, I don’t mean it in a sense of ability to write out detailed research papers, or even articles that have some sense of cohesion. I’m talking about the basic, rudimentary skills that anyone who is in any way a part of a college community should comprehend.

When researching the candidates for SGA’s recent election, for example, I was appalled to find multiple applications with a lack of any punctuation, misspelled words, incomplete sentences, and improperly lower-cased nouns, just to name a few of the egregious errors.

The problem isn’t unique to SGA. After two years as Editor in Chief of this publication, I’ve lost count of the number of applications for editorial positions, including copy editor positions, where blatant problems are present without a second thought by the applicant.

Lest you think this is a problem with simply the student body, I can also recall receiving emails on multiple occasions from staff members of our university with similar problems. While I don’t expect every email from a faculty or staff member to be proofread before being sent, seeing the body of an email from a staff member that has no punctuation when it’s clearly needed is disheartening, if not laughable.

I am not here to vent, though. At least, I’m not here just to vent. This is a serious issue with our university, however silly it may seem, and it’s something that needs to be addressed across our campus. In no way do I expect things to be perfect, but if we expect potential employers and investors in our university to take our institution seriously, we need to be able to communicate in at least a decently efficient manner.

Returning to an area where I have some level of insight, since I’ve overseen this publication for the past two years, I have to wonder where many of these applicants went wrong in choosing where to pay and not pay attention in class. Many of our applicants are journalism majors, so one would think that these students, who are taking courses in a field that relies on an ability to properly communicate as a major part of their eventual career path, would be able to properly use “to” and “too.”

I wish I was making that up.

What can Georgia State do to help with this process? For starters, bring back the Regents Test. Last month, Georgia State joined the University of Georgia and other schools in successfully appealing to the Board of Regents for an exception to the Regents-mandated exam, with the argument that the coursework provided by the university is more than rigorous enough to properly gauge the abilities of students. Clearly, many of our students are falling through the cracks.

I don’t expect everyone to get every aspect of the English language correct on our campus. I’m fully aware of the large and diverse international community that exists on our campus, and expecting that every student come onto our campus with not just a basic comprehension, but a fully detailed knowledge of the mechanics of the English language is foolhardy at best.

That being said, not every student can claim that English is not their native language. Whether their problems are to blame on a failed public school system or some other rationale, we as an institution should stand for more from our students, both in and out of the classroom.

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