Practical considerations . . .
No matter what you do after college, writing will help you succeed. If you don't write well, you'll be handicapped, and severely.
In a recent cross-disciplinary survey of working professionals (including 382 CEO's of major corporations), 98.3% ranked writing skills as "essential" for success on the job.
In a different survey, the University of Maryland polled 3,000 of its graduates. Nearly all respondents, including professors, lawyers, engineers, even police officers, reported spending at least 20% of their work week writing; one in four reported spending at least 70% writing.
It has been estimated that 85% of communication in the working world is carried out in writing. Potential employers rank communications skills as one of the highest priorities in evaluating job candidates. Even the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has been revised recently to include a test of writing skills. Many employers are convinced that you can be trained to perform specific tasks, but you cannot be trained to write well, that if you have not developed your communication skills in college, they will not appear magically later.
Once you are on the job, writing will also help determine the rate and extent of your advancement. Axel Leijonhufvud, chairman of the economics department at UCLA, once confided that he did not see himself as being any smarter than any other economist he knew; he attributed his rise to national prominence to being able to write better than the others. You, like Leijonhufvud, will be judged and promoted on the basis of your reports, memos, letters, articles.
This judging has already begun here at Guilford. You were evaluated for admission partly on the basis of essays. Throughout your four years here, your performance in courses will be assessed constantly on the basis of your writing. An important application requirement for all leadership positions (over 400) at the college is a written description of background and interest. Competitive scholarships such as the Hoyle and the Alden use the written essay as a screening tool.