As someone seeking an online computer science degree, you may be wondering why you even need to take English Composition. Your job will require you to have computer and technology skills, not writing skills, right?
“Writing is fundamental to every profession. Even those which do not appear to focus on writing require skills related to composition, self-expression, and editing,” noted Greg Gildersleeve, Grantham University English Foundations Faculty.
English Composition is one of those general education courses required at nearly all colleges, and there’s a good reason for it. According to a study by Burning Glass, the second most requested skill by employers in the information technology industry is writing (the first is communication skills, so pay close attention in your public speaking class too!).
If that’s not reason enough to take your English Composition class seriously, here are 4 more reasons:
1. English Composition helps you learn how to share your ideas.
You may have the best IT solution for your company, but if the executives don’t understand it, they probably won’t be willing to add it to the budget.
“Students learn to use writing strategies and skills such as brainstorming, pre-writing, narrating, describing, outlining, conducting research, and making an academic argument,” Gildersleeve explained. “They also learn more generally how to express themselves through writing and how to share their ideas with an audience that will respond to their work in some way.”
Getting the boss to respond to your work is key to professional success, regardless of your industry!
2. Four out of five science and technology employers believe it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to develop writing skills in their graduates.
This means the employers expect you to show up on day one of your job with solid writing skills. They are likely willing to teach many of the specific skills needed for you to be successful at the company, but your boss will expect that your college or university taught you what you need to know about writing well.
And your instructors want to help set you up for future success. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to teach these courses. I want my students to leave the class excited about what the future holds for them and the role writing can play in shaping their future,” said Gildersleeve.
3. There’s a huge gap in employers that are requesting writing skills and applicants who have writing skills.
According to the Burning Glass study, “Employers show gaps in writing skills across the occupational
spectrum. Large gaps appear in roles that have clear and obvious writing requirements, such as marketing, and also occupations where the writing requirements may be less obvious such as IT
roles[.]…[P]rogrammers are often required to write technical documentation and support professionals must communicate fixes and procedure to clients.”
Being able to write well could set you apart from a crowded applicant field and put you in a better position to be hired at a company. If you already have a job and are getting your online computer science degree to advance your career, mastering the skills that employers want but can’t find in employees definitely puts you in a better position to move your career forward.
4. “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Ghandi
You are probably pursuing a career in technology because you’re skilled in that area. So, writing and communications might be pretty far outside your comfort zone. Gildersleeve has some advice for his students finding themselves in that situation:
“I have a lot of students who enter the class being afraid of it or not seeing its value to their academic careers. I tell them several things. 1) Approach the course with an open mind. 2) Believe in yourself. 3) Never take feedback personally. 4) Be willing to change anything and everything in your writing to make it better; and 5) Have fun with your writing. If you're bored, your reader will be, too.
By the way, many of my students say they've found Comp I to be one of the most valuable classes they've taken and wish they had taken it sooner since it helps them in other classes.”
You’re in school to take the next step in your career, and hopefully you see now how your English Composition class will help you reach your goals. So, take a deep breath and dive in; take advantage of the opportunity to learn one of the top skills your future employer is looking for in applicants!