Posted on July 8, 2014
By: Michael Record, PhD is the Associate Vice Chancellor of the Writing Program at Keiser University
At the beginning of February 2014, a blogger for NBC News published a post called “Why Johnny Can’t Write, and Why Employers Are Mad.” The post was widely shared, and it expressed a frustration shared by the corporate world and educational institutions alike. America’s education system consistently drops the ball on teaching people to write. Possible answers include the emergence of technologies that facilitate communications at a rapid pace but in a style far from Standard English language usage. Another possible source of trouble involves some trends at work in the world of K-12 education, including an emphasis on personal, expressive writing at the expense of more research-based expository writing, and professional development for teachers that de-emphasized grammar—a message many educators took to mean, “don’t teach grammar.” (For a fascinating exploration of these K-12 trends, look for Peg Tyre’s “The Writing Revolution” from the September, 2012 Atlantic.) The consensus among those in a position to know is clear: American education is missing the mark when it comes to writing. This is why Keiser University chose writing as the topic of a special quality focus on enhancing our teaching and learning in the area of writing.
Chances are, though, if you’re reading this as a member of the Keiser University Alumni Association, you don’t care very much about the societal trends that led to the current situation; you want to know what to you have to do to maximize your employability in a job market that hasn’t entirely bounced back from a period of significant recession. With that in mind, here are some things anyone can do to avoid being perceived as a poor communicator.
Proofread! A great majority of the embarrassment that comes to most people as a result of their writing has nothing to do with their actual communication skills, but instead from a lack of understanding that no one writes something the way it is supposed to be written on his or her first attempt. People who have a weak command over language but are willing to edit themselves closely end up with better written products than people with strong language skills who dash off their first draft to the message recipient.
Monitor yourself. Once we learn a skill, we rarely let it lapse. We do, however, make the same few mistakes over and over indefinitely until we take active steps to correct them. Learn the errors you’re prone to making. My most frequent error in writing, for example, is leaving words of sentences. (Did you catch that?) Others end sentences before completing a thought with a subject and a verb, while others mix up their pronouns. Get to know the errors you make frequently and then watch yourself as you’re writing.
Buy a handbook. Maybe you still have a copy of Rules of Thumb from your days as a Keiser undergraduate. If not, bookstore shelves all over the country are filled with writer’s guides and handbooks. Get yourself one you’re comfortable with and consult it in those situations when you’re not sure which word to use, where that comma goes, or what to capitalize.
Preview before you publish. Recruit a friend to read a written message before you send it to your boss or other readers. Do the same for him or her when needed. Neither of you need to be grammar experts to tell whether a written message makes sense or not.
I will publish more thoughts in issues to follow on what you can do to set yourself apart from your peers as someone who communicates effectively in writing.
Michael Record, PhD
Associate Vice Chancellor of the Writing Program
The Design program at Keiser University was filled with real world learning and hands on instruction… Based on the portfolio I created while a student at Keiser University, I landed a job in Graphic Design for a major online retailer immediately after graduation.
The year and a half I spent in the program better prepared me for attaining a job in the field…As a hands-on learner, the project-centered teaching was perfect for me.
Keiser University has given me the opportunity to embrace a career change… It has opened the door for a timely graduation and quick return to the work force…
Without the education I received at Keiser University, I would not be where I am today!
I not only received an excellent education but also encouragement and training that built my self-confidence every day.
I realize the amount of knowledge I gained and feel that the educational experiences have developed me in to a person who can move higher up the career ladder.
Keiser University’s MBA program has renewed my mind, changed the way I think, and given me a new sense of purpose. The professors transformed my attitude and behavior, gave me the self-confidence I was lacking, and restored my energy.
It has been great attending and graduating from Keiser University. Because of the small class sizes, I was able to build good relationships with classmates and professors. The PA professors care very much about the progress and success of the students and have been great advisors every step of the way through the program.
Attending Keiser University and getting my degree was the best decision I have ever made. The small class sizes and personalized attention helped me get my degree quickly. The hands-on experience and the education landed me a job at a neighboring law firm.
I chose Keiser because it had everything—small classes, caring professors, hands-on learning, and counselors that are really there for you. I feel like I’m part of a family here, not just a number.
After being denied for several promotions at my current employer, I decided that I needed to further my education. Since graduating from Keiser with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I have been promoted and I am able to obtain positions that weren’t available to me before.
Keiser helped change my life by getting my education at the right school! I have been going to another school before, dropped out because I felt that I was not getting enough information that I need. When I found out about Keiser, I was pleased because the instructors were great.
My decision to attend Keiser University has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I chose to enroll in the Information Technology program… The one-class-a-month pace helped incredibly with my self-discipline.
The BA for Business Administration at Keiser has to be one of the best in the nation. Keiser takes the basics that are taught at the Associates level and uses them to strengthen your skills and knowledge.
I found that Keiser University’s Nuclear Medicine program of advanced studies and small class size was a perfect fit. I never came across a faculty member who wasn’t truly interested.