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Help! I can't pass a freshmen English writing class

Freshmen English is easy.  If it's not, this column explains why
Freshmen English is easy. If it's not, this column explains why

If you’re having a hard time getting out of Composition One or your freshmen English class, you may need a basic or a refresher course often found at community colleges. Writing well and writing at the collegiate level means you’re capable of stringing together complete sentences and expressing clear, logical ideas. It means you have a point, something valuable to say and you're capable of producing 750 words on that subject.

Comp I/Freshmen English is easy, really it is. But students who don’t pass freshmen writing and college English have several common issues:

1. Poor time management. People who can’t pass Comp I/Freshmen English or have a hard time writing papers don’t use free time wisely. If Comp I/Freshmen English classes aren't a breeze, then one problem is clearly the inability to get assignments completed on time. Writing papers that meet the assignment’s requirements takes more than a meager effort. It takes some real dedication, time and thought. I wrote my worst college papers when I didn’t give a what about the subject matter, didn’t care what I was saying, and did not sit down and pre-write or brainstorm about the purpose of my paper or how that paper should end. All of that could have been avoided if I had taken time to plan and prepare for a paper well before its due date.

2. Lacks access to computers and the internet. If you’re a college student who doesn’t have a pc at home, don’t sweat it too much. There are computers all over the campus, either in the library or the computer lab. You aren’t losing anything by spending an extra two hours of the day in the week inside the library writing papers. Better yet, some get a work study job and use the pc for academics while at work. Don’t view not having a pc at home a disadvantage. Using computers in working spaces like the library or lab guarantees your writing will get done and submitted on time. Freshmen English classes are a real model for papers to come later in your academic life.

3. Computer illiteracy. If you don’t know the difference between Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, then it’s time to sign up for a pc class, either on campus, or perhaps an adult pc literacy class somewhere that may be offered free of charge. It’s essential that college students have an email address, and that college students know how to attach Microsoft Word documents to an email. If you don’t know how to do that, visit your campus’ computer lab or the library, and ask someone who works there or another student to teach you how to send a Word document via email. Write the instructions down and practice. There's nothing sadder than a student who knows how to write papers and are fully capable of passing freshmen English classes, but can't send documents via email. Online classes assume students know how to send papers via email.

4. Poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills. Poor spellers often get passes with Microsoft Word and Google Chrome programs that signify in red when a word is misspelled. That doesn’t help if a writer doesn’t know the difference between hear and here, but there’s help for that too. Every campus has a writing center or tutor lab and someone is there who gets paid by the federal government to correct grammar and mechanical errors so that students can be successful with writing papers, anything from sociology to freshmen English composition papers. Use those tutor labs wisely and often. It’s the best way to get those good ideas to shine in academic writing.

5. You just don’t have anything to say: Students who aren’t interested in classes and simply can't write papers should do themselves and their wallets a favor and drop. If you’re aren’t going to do your best work in college, why bother? Good grades take you places like scholarships and more educational opportunities that could eventually lead to the doctorate.

If school isn’t your thing, then be brave, don’t be a punk, leave. Take time out and do what you want to do with life: work, travel, party until you can’t anymore. Do whatever it is that fills you up and when the time is right and you’re actually thirsty for education, then return to the college campus. If life is tough when you’re stupid, as John Wayne once put it, I can assure you that college is so much easier when you’re interested.

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