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What to Expect in Your First College Writing Course

college student writing in his notebook
Written by CB Community

The first few days of college usually entails an overwhelming whirlwind of activities, from making sure that you have everything you need in your dorm to meeting your professors and classmates. One of the standard classes that you’ll be attending is a college writing course. This type of course helps equip you with the format and style that’s used in your university.

Some higher education institutions require their students to enrol in only one writing class. While others divide it into two or three semesters. The skills involved in academic writing is crucial for your success in college, which is why it’s understandable that universities would focus on honing in on these skills during a student’s first year.

While thinking about the many research papers you’ll have to do can appear daunting, you can prepare yourself by knowing what to expect in your first college writing course:

1. Avoid “Flowery” Language

Academic writing is much different than blogging. “Flowery” language is the type of language you would see in blogging, where the writer might be writing the way they actually speak in person, and/or, writes strictly from their point of view. Whereas academic writing favors conciseness. Your essay shouldn’t merely present your point of view, but it should also contain evidence to support your arguments and claims.

Also keep in mind that most professors will require a specific word count, so make sure to use a word counter to keep track of the length of your paper. There are many free word counters online that you can access.

2. Learn to Love Reading

Your high school teachers may have warned you about how you won’t survive university if you don’t hone your reading endurance or stamina. They’re right. You have to expect loads of reading and research papers to go along with them.

Higher education institutions operate on the assumption that the practice of reading and writing go hand-in-hand for you to become a responsible academic writer. You’ll be exposed to different types of texts, from brain-stimulating fictional materials to non-fictional resources that’ll allow you to assess a single problem from multiple viewpoints.

If you find it a struggle to enjoy a good book without dozing off, here are a few tips to help you love reading:

  • Start with Books You’ll Enjoy – If you’ve found an author whose writing interests you, try reading all their materials first since you’ve already tested their ability to take you into another world.
  • Don’t exhaust your time in deciding which book to read. Sometimes, you just really need to go for the title that piques your curiosity.
  • Commit to Finishing What You Started – Strive to read the book from start to end, even if you can only finish one page a day. You’ll pick up the habit in no time as long as you just do it daily.
  • Assign a Time for Reading – An excellent way to develop the practice of reading is to dedicate a specific time each day for the act. Be religious in picking up your book. You may be surprised to find that the habit comes naturally later on.

3. Practice Writing Transition Sentences

Aside from presenting your points and arguments for each paragraph or section, you also have to consider the entirety of your paper. Make sure that you have a general theme and that each sub-section supports your central message.

Learning how to write transition sentences is a valuable skill for your freshman composition course. You can work on this skill by reading scientific papers and journals to get an idea of how this process is done.

4. Plagiarism is a Crime

A crucial college writing tool you must have is a plagiarism checker. While you’re expected to elevate your writing to university-level, your professors don’t expect you to write with the skill of someone who’s completed their Ph.D. and has had groundbreaking discoveries.

That’s why you should always be faithful in citing authority sources. Give them credit for supplying you with information that has proven to be valuable in your college life.

5. Be Mindful of the Details

You should practice writing with proper spelling and grammar. You should also proofread your papers before submitting them, so avoid cramming and doing them at the last minute.
Study how to properly incorporate the format your professor or university prefers as well. This way, you won’t have any problems once you’ve passed your research paper.


Your first-year writing course prepares you with the necessary skills to succeed in college. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so be prepared for lots of reading along with written reports.
Keep your essays concise and practice writing transition sentences to ensure that its sub-sections support your central message. Remember to always cite your sources and avoid handing in research papers with typographical errors as well as incorrect formatting.

For more great college tips, check out the other blogs on College Basics.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.