nd no, it’s not just because I studied a writing subject.
Universities have come under fire in recent years. With hyper-successful people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs all having dropped out of college, the case for not needing a college degree has gained more popularity.
Elon Musk even claimed in a recent interview that “college is basically for fun and to prove that you can do your chores, but they’re not for learning.”
Though to be fair, I’m only just about to graduate from university with a History degree, so maybe I’ll write an article in a few years with a clearer opinion…
One benefit I’ve definitely gotten out of this whole experience though is that my writing has improved significantly. Looking back on some of the essays I wrote in my first year of college has me constantly face palming.
This got me thinking about why the level of my writing got better, and here are the reasons relating to university that I came up with:
1. I Wrote A Lot
Specifically, 78,500 words. Yep, I went through and added together the word counts of all the essays I’ve written at university. I appear to have way too much time on my hands…
Anyway, my point is that from writing essays on a constant basis for three years, you start to gain a better understanding of how to write properly. Whether it’s adjusting your grammar, learning not to repeat certain words throughout your writing, expanding your vocabulary, or realising that 400 word long paragraphs don’t look appealing, you just start to see things more clearly over time.
The only reason I know this is because I look back on my old essays and see 5x longer paragraphs, the same words repeated three times in the same sentences, and the list goes on.
To be honest, I’ll probably look back on this article in three years and see faults in the text that I don’t currently see. But that will only happen if I keep on writing. You see my point?
Obviously you don’t have to go to university to write a lot, but I probably never would have realised writing was my passion had I not gone. Most likely, I would have gotten some random job and never had the time or energy to pursue writing on the side.
This leads me onto my next point…
2. I Used My Free Time To Practice
Those 78,500 words only included essays for my History degree. But I wrote thousands more words for articles in my spare time.
If you go back to my first articles on Medium from over a year ago, you will see that the lengths of the paragraphs were often three times longer. Scrolling through this story though, you won’t see one longer than 4 or 5 lines. It just doesn’t look very appealing to see 12 lines of text without a single pause.
This is probably the greatest thing about going to college. No, not discovering paragraphs.
I’m talking about the fact that you can work on the skills you want to improve, with the time you simply wouldn’t have if you’d gotten a job straight after school.
From my experience, this was the biggest benefit of going to university as well. You see, I didn’t start writing articles until my second year, so I may never have discovered this passion if I’d chosen not to go.
3. I Constantly Visited My lecturers
While writing a lot helps, getting feedback from experienced academics who happen to be authors themselves is unsurprisingly more useful.
Over the years, I’ve always gone to my teachers or lecturers after getting a bad mark on an essay. It simply doesn’t make sense to me to start writing another essay if the last one was rubbish, without getting feedback. And the only person who knows what was wrong with your writing is the person who gave you that horrendous mark.
Whether it’s out of laziness or ignorance though, most people at university don’t do this. And what happens? They keep getting the same grades over and over again.
This applies to writing articles as well. If you want to become better at writing them, there are loads of stories even on Medium from successful writers who have endless tips on how to improve.
I didn’t even figure out the paragraph length tip by myself. My lecturer actually told me to make them shorter.
So what I’m trying to say is that of course you don’t need to go to university to improve your writing, but it’s the perfect environment to do so.