Writing is a necessary part of college.
There’s no getting around it.
However, rather than jumping in without preparation, you can learn a little more about what to expect.
How much writing will you do in college?
Let’s review the essential details about college classes, including how much writing you’ll do in college and what types of writing you’ll be assigned.
How Much Writing Will You Do in College? Here’s What to Expect
On average, college students will write about 10 to 15 essays each semester. That’s averages out to 40 to 60 pages of writing.
English classes or writing courses will have the most essay writing assignments.
In these language-focused classes, there will be about five to six essays per semester.
Many other types of classes have less essay writing.
Your class syllabus will explain the components of your grade.
This commonly includes a variety of formats, including reading assignments, exams, group projects, and other types of homework assignments.
How Are College Papers Different Than High School?
When compared to writing assignments in high school, college-level writing requires a higher level of critical thinking.
You’ll need to show original thought, ideas, and analysis.
Simply putting words on a page won’t be enough to get by.
As a college student, the academic writing you do will need to have a strong argument that’s well supported.
College writing assignments should be well-researched and documented.
There’s a reason your college library is so big; college instructors expect you to use it.
Plus, higher education libraries usually give students online access to the latest industry journals and research.
This provides the latest resources to use in your writing assignment.
Plus, college writing assignments are usually longer than high school writing assignments.
In high school, the norm is for writing assignments to be one to three pages long.
For college freshmen and sophomores, a typical writing assignment is usually five to seven pages long, or about 1,500 to 2,000 words.
Writing expectations become further advanced as students progress from freshmen to seniors.
Upper-level students will face even longer writing assignments that need to include more in-depth analysis and thought leadership.
How Much Writing Will You Do for a Senior Thesis?
Most majors have a capstone project or a senior thesis as one of the final criteria before earning your degree.
This is the most challenging writing assignment undergraduates face.
For your senior thesis, you’ll work directly with a faculty advisor who will oversee your project and your writing process.
Many advisors note that a longer thesis isn’t always better.
A tightly-crafted paper can be more effective than one that rambles.
While there are no hard rules for the length of your thesis, it’s usually long and well-researched.
Excluding references, science and engineering majors usually have a senior thesis that’s about 20 to 40 pages long (double-spaced).
Humanities majors usually have senior thesis papers that are 50+ pages long.
Your school may offer you the ability to take college credits just to work on your senior thesis.
There may also be research grants available to help you fund your writing project.
Which College Majors Have the Most Writing?
Several college majors are well suited to students who love to write and want to develop their skills further.
College majors with the most writing assignments include:
These college majors all have strong writing components.
By learning effective writing skills in these subjects, you’ll become skilled at building and framing an argument.
This is helpful to professions that involve negotiation, law, politics, or advertising.
Students in these majors also improve communication skills, which are essential in all areas of business.
Plus, graduates gain a strong command over the English language, a helpful ability for many careers.
Which College Majors Have the Least Writing?
How much writing will you do for college depending on your major?
For students who don’t enjoy writing, choosing a technical major can help you minimize how much you’ll have to write.
College majors with the fewest writing assignments include:
- Computer Science
While many STEM subjects tend to have less writing, you’ll still have to write papers to graduate.
A degree usually requires at least one introductory writing class and several other required humanities courses.
Plus, there will also be writing assignments within your major, such as lab reports and essays.
Even though there will still be required writing for technical majors, the quantity of writing will be lower, and the style of writing will be easier.
The kind of writing required for STEM majors, for the most part, is considered technical writing.
Your essays will need to be clear and accurate.
However, you won’t necessarily need the narratives, descriptors, or adjectives that are common among English majors.
This writing style is recurring at the professional level of these fields.
For example, white papers, stock analysis, and scientific research papers are known for their dry, just-the-facts approach.
What Is the Standard Formatting of College Papers?
Essay formatting can affect your grade, so it’s essential to get it right.
Your professor will likely specify their preferred style guide, such as AP, MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style.
This will determine comma usage, capitalization, and other formatting choices.
Guidelines are available for each style guide.
While using the wrong style may not be detrimental, it could mean you lose a few points off your grade.
A good rule of thumb is that social science students majoring in sociology, psychology, or biology will use APA style (American Psychological Association).
For humanities students majoring in English, history, or philosophy, use MLA style (Modern Language Association).
For the text of a college essay, use a legible serif font.
The standard is Times New Roman in 12-point. Another good option is Georgia or Garamond.
These serif fonts are preferred because the slight curls on the end, called serifs, are designed by typographers to make the text easier to read.
How is College Writing Graded?
Your professor and subject largely determine the grading of your essays. However, some general guidelines apply.
The following criteria are usually considered in the grade of your writing assignment:
- Does it address the topic?
- Is it accurate?
- Do you have a strong, unified thesis?
- Is it logically organized with a clear structure?
- How is the grammar?
- Are references cited appropriately?
In a writing class, expect grammar and punctuation to be heavily weighted.
In a theory or subject-focused class, your concepts, analysis, and framing influence your grade.
If you’re surprised about the grade you received on a paper, don’t be afraid to ask your professor for more insight.
Student writing classes aren’t always easy As.
Teachers can help you understand what went wrong and how you can improve.
Writing courses can help you build the writing skills that will help you succeed when writing essays for your other courses.
If you’re struggling with your writing assignments, your on-campus writing center may offer academic support.
What Other Ways Can You Improve Your College Grades?
Several great apps can help you improve your college grades.
Online grammar apps like Grammarly give you free tools to check your own writing.
It can help you catch punctuation problems, spelling mistakes, and other common errors.
When you use Grammarly before submitting your writing assignments, your teacher may find fewer grammar problems, and your grade could improve.
Another excellent college app to use is OneClass.
The shared note-taking platform gives you access to helpful notes and study guides that have been uploaded by your classmates.
Whether you missed a class or are struggling with the course material, the shared resources can help you get up to speed.
Millions of users have found that using shared notes has helped them learn more efficiently.
If you’re about to start college soon, it’s good to know how much and what kind of writing you will be doing.
Does the information here line up with your expectations, and answer your questions about “How much writing will you do in college?”
And do you feel more prepared and informed after reading this?
Let’s chat in the comments!
Jack Tai is the CEO and Co-founder of OneClass. Visit the site to find out more about how this online tool has helped 90% of users improve by a letter grade.