Guest Article Written By Allison VanNest, Grammarly.com
Quality writing is a key predictor of career success, and many employers are now using writing ability to identify and hire the most promising young talent from top colleges and universities across the country. But, is this really wise?
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the first computer-based national writing exam recently showed that only one-quarter of eighth and twelfth graders in the U.S. are able to communicate effectively—even with access to spell check, a thesaurus, and other writing tools. Colleges struggle to assist these students through remedial reading and writing courses. And because resources are slim and writing centers have limited capacity and availability, these efforts are not nearly sufficient.
Shockingly, but predictably, many students go on to graduate from college with poor writing skills. This translates to a U.S. workforce that is filled with employees boasting sub-par written communication skills. According to a recent survey from Grammarly, problem-solving ability and degree of adaptability can be predicted by a job seeker’s writing ability. Yet, companies are still hiring employees without testing their writing skills—and then must spend time, money, and resources on writing improvement programs.
One way to circumnavigate this problem is to look for new graduates who have graduated from colleges and universities associated with quality writing. Although some schools have renowned writing programs, one of the best ways to judge the quality of their student writers is to look at writing skills across the curriculum.
Curious, the Grammarly team decided to do some investigating. We found 30 LinkedIn profiles of recent graduates from each of the “top ten” colleges, as defined by U.S. News & World Report. Our proofreaders then checked these profiles for spelling and grammar errors and ranked the top schools based on overall student writing ability. We found that students from the University of Chicago made the fewest overall writing mistakes of any “top ten” college.
If writing is a predictor of success, we can assume that graduating students from the University of Chicago will make solid hires in an increasingly competitive workforce. After all, the quality of a new graduate’s writing can influence their reputation, both personally and professionally. It is typically a good indicator of the professionalism, attention to detail, and intellectual capacity that each student will bring into his work as an adult.
According to an audit of student writing mistakes in 2012 conducted by Grammarly, the most common writing mistakes made by students today are as follows:
Spell check may not pick up contextual spelling errors. For example: “Watch you’re words! Spell check may not sea words witch are miss used because they are spelled rite!”
Run-on sentences (no comma before a coordinating conjunction)
Many students neglect to include a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, etc.), making their sentences too long. Here are two situations that require a comma before the word “and”:
- When listing three or more items in a series
- When “and” is being used to coordinate two independent clauses (a group of words with a subject and a verb that can stand alone as a sentence)
In order to convey a meaningful idea, sentences require a subject and a verb. The best sentences indicate who or what is doing something, as well as what is being done. For example: “I am writing.”
Missing a comma before an introductory phrase
When you begin a sentence with background information, remember to include a comma between the background word or phrase and the rest of your sentence. For example: “While writing, she realized the importance of proofreading her work.”
Using more words than necessary to convey meaning.
Students who take time to establish solid writing skills in class – and spend time proofreading their written work – will find success well beyond the years they spend writing papers for college-level classes. Chances are, their emails, project proposals, and presentations will surpass those of their peers in the workplace. And, perhaps most importantly, employers will recognize them for their skill set rather than their reputation for making easily avoidable writing errors.
About the Author
A self-proclaimed word nerd, Allison VanNest works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Allie, the Grammarly team, and more than 699,000 Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.