Writing Center

Dr. Renea Frey's Advice to Freshman Writers

Hello, Fellow Writing Enthusiasts,

Meet Dr. Renea Frey!  Dr. Frey joined Xavier’s faculty in 2015 and is the Writing Program Director and an Assistant Professor in the English Department.

For more information on Dr. Frey, click the link below:


Our staff asked her some questions about writing, and she shared valuable insights for Freewrite and its readers to enjoy.  Her responses will be featured on the blog throughout the year!

Yours truly,



Dr. Renea Frey’s advice for freshman students who are transitioning from writing high school papers to college essays:


There are several ways that writing may be different from the experience students had in high school, though we should also remember that people come to college with vastly different types of educations, backgrounds, and experiences, so the transition may be easy and seamless for some, and jarring and unexpected for others.


In The Write Path, we include a section in the frontmatter that discusses some of the differences students may encounter. One thing that students often notice right away is that there tends to be a lot more writing than they had in high school, whether that be in the number of writing assignments they have across all of their courses or the length of individual papers.


They may also find that what counts as “evidence” is different in college, so that suddenly they are being asked to include scholarly, peer-reviewed sources that feel well above their own level of expertise and may be hard to understand.


Thirdly, they may find that when they write arguments, it isn’t enough to only include their own side; now, they have to consider multiple perspectives and demonstrate that they understand the complexity of an issue that may contain many different counterarguments. Instead of brushing over these differences, they may be asked to deeply engage with them, showing how other perspectives are valid, even if they ultimately disagree with them.


In my experience, one of the biggest challenges for students is that they often have to write differently, depending upon the discipline or class in which they are writing. Suddenly, it isn’t enough to be able to write in MLA format in their English classes; instead, they find that they might use MLA in their English classes, APA in their Psychology classes, and Chicago Style in their History classes. That alone is daunting, but then they discover that writing is stylistically different in these disciplines, too — while their Literature professors may want deep description and thorough analysis within a 10—12-page paper, their Business professors might want short, bullet-pointed documents that are never longer than one page. Those differences can be difficult to navigate for students, especially if these expectations aren’t clearly articulated in their classes.


I think that professors can overlook this part of being a student and can become so embedded in the way that they write in their profession that they forget how different those expectations are for their students in their other classes. If students are aware of this, they can ask more specific questions about the writing expected in each discipline and in their various classes, and also ask for feedback on their writing from those professors if they aren’t sure.


Dr. Renea Frey

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