High school seems to be lacking in teaching students the basics, and this does not merely include how to format an essay or cite a source. Some students aren’t even given a foundation to stand on-information such as how to use grammar properly, or how to spell. Very few teachers at the high school level seem prepared to help improve a student’s papers; they simply scratch a red line through that particular mistake and move on.
Colleges seem to be offering more and more remedial English classes as time passes. Also, many of the bigger universities have writing centers now, where graduates and upperclassmen volunteer (or are paid) to assist fellow students in writing their papers. Often, a student is required to visit a writing center on campus at least once during their undergraduate career, so that they will know where to turn should they have difficulties.
And there are quite a few challenges indeed; for how can anyone write a decent essay when he or she doesn’t even have a foundation to work with?
I myself have always been mostly self-taught when it came to any of the basics with the English language. For the majority of my high school career, my English teachers were substitutes; I had the bad luck of continually being placed in classes where my teachers were heavily pregnant. When I arrived at college, I immediately signed up for the basic English 101 class, and found myself at a bit of a loss. The entire class revolved around four essays we needed to write, and I was still uncertain about how to cite sources, make footnotes, and all manner of other things.
Twice that semester we were given a chance to speak one on one with the professor- if we hadn’t already made appointments to speak with him otherwise. I attended both sessions, and emerged from that class greatly improved from my writing. However, I remember how often my English 101 professor looked at me after I asked him what I thought was a good question. His expression usually read, “You mean you don’t know this already? You have got to be kidding me…”