How high school English prepares students for post-secondary success

My first year of university was an eye-opening experience for me. I went to a Canadian school and studied a wide variety of material over my first couple of semesters before finally solidifying my major. I had come to accept that whether I studied criminology, communication, English, or humanities, I would be writing and reading – a lot.

What I didn’t know before getting to university was that almost every single major in any faculty required students to have strong English skills. I remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine – she was in her fourth undergraduate year and I was in my first. She told me about the 70-page research paper she was working on… in biology. I scratched my head and laughed. How was a biology student supposed to write 70 pages? Aren’t they supposed to memorize the textbook and write a bunch of midterms and final exams?  

I may have been uninformed about the realities of post-secondary schooling, or maybe it’s commonplace for students to have an eye-opening experience with regards to how vital English is to any college or university subject. Either way, students should be expected to read (and read and read) and they should expect to produce academically sound written work. And this applies to virtually every field of study in college or university.

As I found my comfort zone and started moving through my university courses, I was very thankful for the knowledge and understanding I had taken away from my high school English classes. It served as an essential building block for me as I advanced to the next stages of my formal learning career.

Looking back at my time spent in university, there was a glaring difference between students who understood basic essay structure and those who did not. The ones who understood how to formulate arguments could focus on course concepts and research while sharpening and improving their writing skills. The ones who did not needed to spend time with teaching assistants and in library sessions in order to grasp essay basics. Of course, this is a gap that can be closed with time and effort and it will not be the make or break between a successful and unsuccessful university or college career, but a quality essay writing base built during secondary school can be something that makes the transition to college much easier.

Success in high school English can also be a time, energy, and money saver when university rolls around. Many post-secondary institutions will accept students, but require them to take courses dedicated to improving their English literacy skills before allowing them to take certain college level classes. This route adds an extra course and is a difficult hurdle that can be avoided with stronger performances in 11th and 12th grade English.

College and university success hinges on research. The volume of material that every college student engages with is truly massive. The ability to effectively read and comprehend all of this content as part of conducting quality research can stem from high school English curricula that are properly challenging as well as accelerated high school English skills that are ready for transition to a bigger stage.

Basic essay writing skills, avoiding extra college classes, and reading comprehension and research abilities are all benefits of quality high school English education. Regardless of post-secondary area of study, high school English is essential in preparing students for success.


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