My oldest daughter is now a senior, which means college prep is an important part of our homeschool plans. Being able to write a high-quality essay is essential, so when I had the opportunity to review the Premium Package of College-Ready Writing Essentials™ from BetterRhetor, I eagerly signed her up.
What Is College-Ready Writing Essentials™?
An online course hosted on Teachable, College-Ready Writing Essentials™ provides a solid college-level writing foundation for students. Designed by William Bryant, PhD., the course helps get high school students on level for college writing. Dr. Bryant used to be the Director of Writing Assessments at ACT, so he is definitely an expert in this field.
The goal of this particular writing course is to create a researched-based essay on a topic of their choice. As they develop the essay, they work through lessons on all stages of the writing process:
There are 25 lessons in all. Some have links to videos. Or samples. There are downloadable worksheets and assignments for the lessons, to help the student take action with their new knowledge.
Each lesson helps move students one step closer to having their final essay.
Here is a peek at what the course dashboard looks like. You can easily navigate between lessons.
As students complete the lesson, they simply click the “Complete and Continue” button at the top. Then they move automatically to the next one.
Here’s a peek of an individual lesson. It’s written directly to the student, which is nice. The words in bold are vocabulary type words, which helps students stop and take notice.
The worksheets for the lessons download into Microsoft Word. Here’s a peek at how my daughter used one of them:
How We Used This Product
After initially logging in and checking things out, I had my daughter work through this course on her own. I originally had her scheduled to do three lessons a week. But, as the end of the review period drew near, I bumped her up to five lessons a week, hoping to get her through the whole course by the time I published this review.
And while she did finish it and complete her essay, rushing her through it was a mistake on my part. She got burned out and frustrated. She felt like she couldn’t take the time she needed to research and ponder because I was always asking her if the next lesson was done.
So…I definitely recommend giving your child some extra time to do this course. Stretch it out and let them think about the new skills they are learning. Don’t start it three weeks before they need to write essays for college entrance exams…
Selecting the Topic for the Essay
The first assignments in the planning stage help students determine which topics would make good essays. They had to ask themselves if there was a conflict or question about the topic they could talk about. They had to learn if there was peer-reviewed research.
And this part frustrated my daughter a little bit. The topic she REALLY wanted to do was about why survival skills should be taught in school. She had the conflict. She knew her questions.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t find any peer-reviewed articles on this topic. She found blog posts. And magazine articles.
But nothing that was official enough to meet the requirements. So after I spent some time researching to see what I could find, we came to the conclusion that a different topic was prudent. But, she was very disappointed. She didn’t like any of her other topic ideas nearly as much as this one.
She half-hardheartedly picked the topic of music for students (specifically why music should be taught to kids). But, it was a topic she never felt as passionate about. This was reflected in work.
Developing the Essay
Once she had a topic, it was time to research. She was able to use Google Scholar and some library resources to find quality sources. She took notes. And researched some more.
She followed the directions in the course to create an outline. Then she drafted it. She had to create her Works Cited page, learn more about MLA style of formatting (we typically use APA). She edited the draft. And had me edit it for her.
Then since we had the premium package, she was able to send her drafted essay to Dr. Bryant for feedback. The submission process was simple – the essay was just sent as an attachment to an email. He quickly got back to us and had very thorough feedback the next day. I was impressed with the speed!
The feedback started with some positive characteristics, and then gave some practical advice to help improve it. I appreciated that it wasn’t sugar coated, and that it wasn’t nit-picky. There’s a definite balance there, and this instructor did a good job finding that balance in my opinion.
What We Thought of the Product
I appreciate that this package included lifetime access, as I know there are some lessons I want my daughter to go back through. She was in such a rush for my deadline that she didn’t adequately spend the time she needed.
Honestly, I spend so much time writing blog posts in a conversational style, that I know I’ve passed that down to my kids. I’m thankful she had the opportunity to learn more about academic writing and how it is different.
And how you shouldn’t start a sentence with and and things like that that college professors care about a lot more than blog readers… 😀
The lessons were well designed and Teachable is a user-friendly system. Unless you get logged out. Then it was a pain to log back in, as we kept cycling back to the purchase page. But we eventually figured out that if you clicked on a lesson title, it would give you the option of logging in. Then you could resume the course.
Here is what my daughter had to say:
The lessons were very well done. The examples got a bit tedious to get through, but they were fine.
I thought some of the worksheets could have been combined to streamline it a bit more. For example, once I had to write out which topic I picked. Then the next lesson asked me to explain why I was picking it. I’d have preferred to do both at once.
I learned a lot about writing and formatting more professional writing, which will be helpful next year in college.
All in all, we both thought the course was helpful to prepare students for the rigors of college level writing. We recommend it to high schoolers who are ready to dive deep into improving their skills.
I was one of 31 reviewers. To see what other homeschooling families thought of this product, please click the banner below: