Seven Tips to Improve Your Written Communication
In a traditional college, you have the chance to impress professors and students with your charm, intelligence and interpersonal skills in classes. Online, your writing often becomes your teachers’ and students’ only impression of you. Think it doesn’t matter? It does—the impression you make doesn’t just help you improve your grades; it can also help you form key relationships that can help you land your next job out of college. Here are a few ways you can avoid making a bad impression in writing at your online school.
Always spell check
Spelling and grammar mistakes make you sound unintelligent—even when you’re not. Make these mistakes, and it could have a negative impact on your grades and relationships—even if you don’t make them in papers. Always spell check and read over your written communications before you send them to ensure they’re mistake-free. If grammar and spelling aren’t your strong points, have someone you trust proofread them.
See Also: Online English Grammar Courses
Don’t use shortcuts
IM slang like “ur” for “your” make you sound immature. Avoid them at all costs, even in informal discussions where other people are using them. Chances are all of the students in your classes and quite possibly your professor won’t be used to seeing these contractions and won’t think highly of those who use them—some may mistake them for common spelling mistakes, which won’t reflect well on you.
Think about it before hitting “send”
Never send anything right after you write it. You may miss crucial spelling errors or risk offending others by using a tone that’s too strong. Sit on it for at least an hour before looking over your email or post again, checking for errors, and making sure your message is clear and inoffensive.
Break up paragraphs
It’s difficult for people to read and take in long blocks of text. To make sure people read your message all the way through and digest your points, break them up into shorter paragraphs. Make sure they’re organized in a way that makes sense—and they follow a logical progression.
Whether you’re responding to an email or posting in a forum, it’s crucial to read previous messages carefully first to ensure your message is relevant to the previous communications and answers all questions asked. Good reading is crucial to good writing skills, and you’ll need to make sure your messages are always relevant and on-topic.
Take classes if needed
If you’re lacking in certain writing skills, you may have more trouble in online classes than you would in a traditional class. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t take remedial classes in grammar and syntax, paper writing, sentence structure, and other topics if you need them. Your school may offer these classes, if your school doesn’t require you to take them as part of your curriculum, you may be able to get them for less elsewhere. And if you do take classes in these areas, your grades will definitely see an improvement.
Say what you need to say and nothing more
Most professors have an excellent fluff detector. They know when you’re just trying to stretch something out to meet a length requirement. Even though some teachers may require your discussion board posts to be a certain length, don’t be needlessly verbose—it’s better to expand on a point with substantial details, quote an expert, or refute your own point and then ask other students which opinion they think is right. These are excellent ways to stimulate discussion and meet length requirements without puffing up your writing. When writing emails to students and teachers, keep things as brief and simple as possible for the sake of clarity.
Good written communication is absolutely crucial in an online education environment. Your professors and peers will get to know you through your contributions to online discussions, emails, and papers. The impression you make in writing is likely to be the only impression they have of you—so it’s important to make it good. Ensure your grammar and spelling are always correct; always keep your messages relevant to the discussion; and break up your text so that people won’t be forced to digest long blocks of text. Take classes in writing skills you don’t have—and you’re likely to make a good impression in writing.
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