Are writing skills really as valuable as people say they are?

Yes.  Good writing skills are perennially among the most important qualities employers look for from college graduates.  Lots of people who aren't "professional writers" still find themselves writing as an essential part of their daily worklives:  accountants write analyses of companies or investments, biologists write lab reports, newscasters write copy, etc., etc.  And even if some people find themselves in professional niches that don't require much daily writing, their advancement beyond that niche is often dependent on their ability to write with clarity, insight, and polish.  The 2004 report of the National Commission on Writing, sponsored by the College Board, estimates that US employers spend $3.1 billion each year on developing employees' writing skills, and most employers, it finds, give consideration to writing skills in both hiring and promotion decisions for salaried employees.

Beyond the professional reasons to develop your writing skills, however, we suggest that there are equally good intellectual ones, too:  writing well is a profoundly important part of thinking well.  Written language is how people name and sort out their ideas.  So the skills you develop as a writer are the cornerstone of a larger intellectual life.  If you've come to college for an education, you can't really get one without being able to write effectively.

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