"The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something." - Randy Pausch
All throughout high school, you have learned countless techniques, rules and tricks for academic writing. In high school, there is predictability, reliability, and structure, which often carries over into the writing process. One of the biggest worries for students entering their first year of university is the transition from high school to university writing. Whether it’s assignments, papers, presentations, reports and the like, writing seems to change in university – or at least the expectations do.
“Writer’s block.” Two dreaded words for any student, first year undergrads and PhD candidates alike. Most other problematic writing habits stem from writer’s block; procrastination is when you’ve convinced yourself that you will write something, just not yet. The timing isn’t right, or you don’t have enough time to get enough of your thoughts down, or you need to perform your pre-writing rituals like binge-watching The Wire or cleaning the kitchen. Everyone is different, but the problem remains the same. Where to begin?
An introduction to university writing
You have graduated from high school and been accepted to The University of Waterloo. Congratulations! As you begin your university studies you will encounter many kinds of writing assignments. To help get you started, here’s a brief guide to expectations for university-level writing.
Writing at university follows specific conventions
In high school, I took visual arts every year, and I loved it. Weirdly enough, I’ve always had one art teacher (hi, Mr. Simpson!). I loved the amount of freedom I had with my projects, and the exercises we did every week; the class was liberating (especially compared to the AP STEM courses I took).