Students' writing is so bad, one professor says he has to write emails for them

This self-identified professor used to assign 1-2 page essays for his biology class, but scrapped them because students' writing was so poor.

The professor provides email templates for which students would copy-paste, fill in the blanks, and send to the proper recipient.

College students’ writing is in a “permanent state of crisis,” according to one X user.

X (formerly Twitter) user @ShakenJack shared an image of a note from a self-identified professor remarking on the poor writing of his students, and the extra steps he has had to take because of it.

 ”Writing at the college level is in a permanent state of crisis,” the user captioned the tweet.

The note says that as a professor he used to assign multiple 1-2 page essays and reports for his biology classes. “I have since removed those assignments from my courses,” the self-identified professor said in the note. 

“The quality of writing that I typically received was so poor that I couldn’t adequately assess understanding biology,” the professor added.

From that experience, he changed his assignments to ask “focused questions with 1-2 sentences responses.” Even then, he still faced challenges.

The professor also said that poor writing also extended into student emails.  He said that the writing quality was so poor that he had no idea what the student was asking for. He began “providing email templates for common requests” such as requests to meet and assignment extensions, for which students would copy-paste, fill in the blanks, and send to the proper recipient. 

The post elicited a plethora of responses from educators and writers.

“As a teacher my response to these complaints is usually that this is a great opportunity for you to scrap your lesson plans and spend some time teaching them how to write,” One twitter user wrote.

Or, do what we do: there is a required [writing] class for all students first semester,” Fr. Matthew Schneider, a professor at Belmont Abbey College, replied to that user’s tweet. “I don’t get Shakespeare or PhD humanities level writing, but it’s pretty decent for where they are.”

“If elected President I will mandate nothing except two years of Latin for every middle school student to fix this.” Spencer A. Klavan, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, wrote.

 “Arguably most students now in college are functionally illiterate,” The Federalist senior editor John Daniel Davidson commented.

“I could tell you some horror stories. Had college seniors turn in several-page papers that were all one paragraph, had many (or too many) that were full of plagiarism but not even skilled plagiarism,” another user wrote.

A former teacher wrote that they no longer teach anymore, saying that “the problem begins in grade school as writing is the can that gets kicked down the road. When its too far gone, academia makes all kinds of excuses to ignore the problem.” 

The recent trend that college students do not know how to write has been sweeping the nation with many saying that “public education has failed to prepare them.” 

Campus Reform recently reported on a concerning trend of incoming freshmen who do not know how to write at the college level. More than two-thirds of students, 68%, at two-year institutions and 40% at four-year colleges took a remedial writing course from 2003-2009, a Department of Education report found.

On top of that, average math and reading test scores dropped significantly from 2019 to 2021, according to a 2022 study by two Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).

Campus Reform reached out to Klavan, Schneider, and Davidson for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

This article contains additional reporting from William Biagini.