USN Alumni Comments

Rigorous writing in high school often—though not always—translates to writing success in college. 88% of recent USN alums say that, in reflection, they feel that they were asked to do a decent amount to a lot of writing in high school. Most are grateful for the preparation. Here is a sampling of comments from former University School of Nashville students comparing their college writing experiences to those they had at USN:


I am a rising sophomore at Boston University and the thing that baffles me constantly is the fact that large, difficult assignments that are hard for most students from public schools and international schools, are so so easy for me. I can easily crank out a first draft paper in 3 hours. I just want you to know that most of my friends who came from other schools are constantly expressing that writing large essays by themselves with structure analysis etc. is difficult for them. USN is doing everything right. USN Alum ’15


USN prepared me incredibly well for college. I think some of my writing assignments at USN were even harder than some of my assignments in college. I am now in graduate school and can still say the same. USN Alum ’12


Quite frankly, college writing is a joke compared to writing at USN. I go to Rice University, which is admittedly not a liberal arts school, but it offers lots of history and writing classes, and I have found myself crushing these classes (upper levels included) easily. I am a mechanical engineer that takes upper level history classes for fun because I know I can get A+s in them, with research papers that would probably have gotten me a strong B in Dr. Lavine’s AP Euro. I also noticed that maybe it’s just because other students have much lower levels of writing skill; my freshman year I took a writing class (mandatory) with some other students who clearly had gone to good school, but in conducting peer reviews their writing was comically bad. I’m not trying to be mean; I got all A’s at USN but in English especially I was probably barely top half, but at Rice I may as well be an English major. One area that USN never touched is technical writing. Maybe I see a lot of this because I am an engineer that takes a number of design classes, but it’s very different than what we did at USN. However, I think research type history papers at USN helped prepare me, as clearly establishing a point was more crucial than flowery language. Last point, building on the above: other than technical/business communication style writing, USN is incredible at preparing you, and even then they gave me the groundwork so it took me a negligible amount of time to learn. Everyone told me I would be writing so much all the time in college, and sure I’m an engineer, but honestly the writing part is easier than high school ever was. Sorry this was so rambly.USN Alum ’15


My freshman year at Wake Forest, I was leaps and bounds more prepared for college level writing than my classmates. The first year at Wake Forest, students are required to take a First Year Seminar and a Writing Seminar. Both of these courses are used to help students learn how to write for the college level. To be honest, those classes were useless to me. USN prepared me so well for college level writing in two ways. First, I had experience turning in writing assignments often and multiple times a week. Second, I had experience writing at a high level thanks to the expectations set by USN teachers. For example, in my USN English classes, I had lots of experience identifying a theme and pulling from different books in order to answer an essay question. At Wake Forest, from Politics to English to Religion to History to Communications and beyond, I was expected to pull from different semester readings to answer a paper question. I was very prepared for these types of papers, thanks to my USN English classes. The only thing I was not prepared for in college was the high volume of research papers expected from me. —USN Alum ’12


I wrote a lot of research papers and essays in college–I tended to avoid the sort of class that asked for a lot of reflective writing, as I’m in favor of the more academic writing assignments. My Dr. Lavine honed research paper skills were phenomenally helpful. I cannot express enough how much her methodology of working through paper construction on paper, documenting research by hand, and pulling from a broad range of sources helped me in college, and frequently earned me praise of my professors to boot. The senior focus on the college essay was really helpful in finding my voice and learning how to carefully edit–more college assignments are directed at interweaving a bit of a personal narrative into one’s academics (at least where I was), and having felt like I’d put some time into developing that skill in high school really helped. —USN Alum ’12


Again, though, a rigorous high school writing experience doesn’t necessarily translate into an easy college experience for everyone. A few more comments comparing USN to College reveal this:

College has be similar for classes in history and English but there are a lot more lab reports that we didn’t write nearly enough of in high school. —USN Alum ’14


[College assignments] are longer, more complex, and demanding. At USN we were writing for a grade, but at my university I’m expected to write pieces that are often more than one genre. While being expressive, I must be analytical. Or when I’m doing a report, I’m sure to be argumentative and professional. In college we write for a different audience that expects us to be able to take what we learned in previous classes and educations and mold that into what they want. —USN Alum ’13


USN does a great job at getting students to write persuasively and seductively, but I think that the curriculum could do a better job of teaching students how to logically pursue and support an argument. —USN Alum ’13


[College has been] much more difficult – I haven’t felt prepared at all.USN Alum ’14