Why do you need a composition class? At some point, even the most dedicated of students should ask themselves this question. They should ask this question not because composition is a questionable subject, but because all demands, all requirements, all assumptions are worth questioning on some level. Rules without reasons should be challenged, if only because this makes way for better rules.

In the case of composition classes, it is worth pointing out that this one class can serve multiple functions. At its core, a composition class is supposed to prepare students for the demands of other college-level writing assignments. However, on many campuses a composition class is also a rhetoric class, meaning that the class is supposed to introduce students to how persuasion takes place (this is both to help students persuade others and to serve as a sort of “self-defense” class in how to be persuaded by others a little less readily). Additionally, many colleges use composition classes to prepare students for writing in the professional world–written communication is usually one of the five most “in-demand” abilities of new college graduates.

So, can one class prepare a student for every bit of writing xe is going to be doing in 30-40 other classes? Can that same class also prepare a student to persuade others while avoiding being manipulated by people? And can that same class also really prepare a student for all of the challenges xe will face in the 10-15 jobs xe might ever hold?


No class can do all of those things. However, what a composition class can do (and probably should do) is provide a foundation of skills. A composition class should make it a little bit easier for a college student to recognize why a different teacher is assigning a project, and it should help the student feel a little bit more prepared for the “writing” part of that project so the student can focus on the learning part.

A composition class should make a student aware of the ways language can be manipulated so that xe can at least know that there is the potential for miscommunication or manipulation being present.

A composition class should help a student learn how to shift among styles of writing, so that when an employer expects written communication in a certain form, the employee is not completely lost.

So, that’s still a lot. All of those things are skills that require time and practice. They require patience. They require correction.

And that’s why students need to take a composition class. Good luck to you!


Writing Academic Arguments Copyright © by Joshua P. Sunderbruch. All Rights Reserved.

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