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students begin to understand what academic writing really means only after they receive negative feedback on their work. To become a strong writer in college,you need to achieve a clear sense of two things:The academic environmentThe kinds of writing you'll be doing in that environmentDifferences between High School and College WritingStudents who struggle with writing in college often conclude that their high school teachers were too easy or that their college instructors are too hard. In mostcases, neither explanation is fully accurate or fair. A student having difficulty with college writing usually just hasn't yet made the transition from high schoolwriting to college writing. That shouldn't be surprising, for many beginning college students do not even know that there is a transition to be made.In high school, most students think of writing as the subject of English classes. Few teachers in other courses give much feedback on student writing;many do noteven assign writing. This says more about high school than about the quality of teachers or about writing itself. High school teachers typically teach five courses aday and often more than 150 students. Those students often have a very wide range of backgrounds and skill levels.Thus many high school English instructors focus on specific, limited goals. For example, they may teach the “five paragraph essay” as the right way to organize apaper because they want to give every student some idea of an essay's basic structure. They may give assignments on stories and poems because their own collegebackground involved literature and literary analysis. In classes other than English, many high school teachers must focus on an established body of information andmay judge students using tests that measure only how much of this information they acquire. Often writing itself is not directly addressed in such classes.This does not mean that students don't learn a great deal in high school, but it's easy to see why some students think that writing is important only in Englishclasses. Many students also believe an academic essay must be five paragraphs long or that “school writing” is usually literary analysis.Think about how college differs from high school. In many colleges, the instructors teach fewer classes and have fewer students. In addition, while college studentshave highly diverse backgrounds, the skills of college students are less variable than in an average high school class. In addition, college instructors are specialistsin the fields they teach. College instructors may design their courses in unique ways, and they may teach about specialized subjects. For all of these reasons,college instructors are much more likely than high school teachers toassign writing,respond in detail to student writing,ask questions that cannot be dealt with easily in a fixed form like a five-paragraph essay.