Every summer for the past decade, we have conducted a writing program for college-bound, low-income minority students, say William G. Tierney, professor of higher education and director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at the University of Southern California, and Stefani R. Relles, a former community college instructor and doctoral candidate at USC, for the Washington Post. More than 80 percent of them have never written a formal five-page paper. Instead, they’ve churned out short essay after short essay after short essay. When asked to develop an idea or argument beyond two or three pages, they look dumbfounded....

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