The Transition to College Writing

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/12/2009
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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This brief rhetoric introduces the essential reading and writing strategies students need to succeed in courses across the curriculum. Taking the transition from high school to college as his starting point, Hjortshoj speaks directly and honestly to students, offering them practical strategies to shed ineffective habits and move toward a more mature, flexible understanding of how to respond to academic challenges. Distilling information about writing assignments from across the curriculum, Hjortshoj shows students how to decode these assignments and approach them effectively.The second edition offers more advice on how to meet the difficult challenge of synthesizing and integrating sources, and the text has been streamlined to be a better reference.

Author Biography

KEITH HJORTSHOJ (Cornell University) is the Director of Writing in the Majors in the Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University. He is also a senior lecturer in the Writing Workshop, which offers courses and services for students who encounter difficulty with writing and reading, especially in the first year of college. He has worked extensively with faculty development and teacher training across the curriculum. Currently, Hjortshoj is developing courses, workshops, and a book on writing for graduate students.

Table of Contents


1. Orientation

Are You Prepared for College?

Eduardo and Marie

Mythical Colleges, Mythical High Schools

Some Basic Differences between High School and College

Take Charge of Your Own Transition to College, as Active Learners


2. Language and Learning

The Vital Connections between Language and Learning

Consider Note Taking

Forms and Functions of a College Writing Class


3. Reading: How to Stay on Top of It

Amanda’s Question

Becoming a Predatory Reader

Reading and Memory

Ways of Reading

        Passive, Linear Reading

        Reading with Two Minds


        Notes, Outlines, and Summaries

        Hard Reading

        Some Other Ways of Reading


        Selective Reading

        Analytical Scanning

        Close Reading

Overcoming Resistance to Strategic Reading


4. How Good Writing Gets Written

Patterns of Discontent

Process and Product

        Prewriting or Planning


        Revising or Rewriting
        Editing or Proofreading


The Choices Student Writers Make

Cost/Benefit Analysis



5. Rules and Errors

What are the Correct Rules for Writing?

Two Kinds of Rules and Knowledge

Proofreading by Ear

False Rules

How to Use a Handbook

A Note to Nonnative Speakers of English

        What You Can (and Can’t) Expect from Teachers

        Special Resources for Nonnative Speakers of English


6. Footstools and Furniture: Variations of Form and Flow in College Writing

What’s Wrong with the Footstool Essay?

What Remains True of Good Writing Workshop

Figuring Out What Assignments Are Asking You to Do

Structuring Comparisons and Arguments

        Organizational Options for Comparison

        The Academic Meanings of Argument

The Form and Flow of a Scientific Report

        The Form of a Scientific Report

        Narrative Flow through Categorical Sections

        The Broader Uses of Scientific Narration

        Variations and Preferences

A Brief Summary


7. Writing in Reference to Others

A Bubble of Solitude, Abuzz with Conversation

The Familiar Principles of Referring to Others

Misconceptions of Reference and Documentation

Integrating References: the Importance of Voice

Why and How We Use Documentation Systems

        Why Doesn’t Everyone Use the Same System?

        When Should You Use a Documentation Format?

        Which Format Should You Use?

                MLA Format

                APA Format

                CMS Format

        Where Can You Find These Formats?

How and When to Cite Electronic Sources


8. Research Papers

What Is a Research Paper?

The Standard Method (and Why It Rarely Works)

Revising and Adapting Your Strategies

        Choose a Topic

        Locate Sources of Information on the Topic

        Read Sources and Take Notes

        Construct an Outline

        Write the Paper, Incorporating Source Material

        Document References and Add a Bibliography

        Check for Errors and Typos, and Turn It In

Theft, Fraud, and the Loss of Voice
        Theft and Fraud

        Unauthorized Assistance and Collaboration

        Lazy Citation and Paraphrase

        Loss of Voice


Conclusion: The Whole Point of Writing

Works Cited


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