How IEW Saved Me from All-Nighters in College

Jul 21, 2020 | Posted by Michelle


Over the course of this past school year, I had a few goals in mind during my study abroad: Don’t get lost on any European streets, find amazing friends, and don’t pull any all-nighters for the sake of writing papers. With the year now complete, I thankfully am able to check off all three of those goals. The first two I credit to my fantastic travel companions having a sense of direction, but the last one is all thanks to the planning strategies and style skills I learned from IEW in middle and high school.

While some of my classmates would be scared for me when they found out that I had not yet moved on from my outline process to actually penning sentences, they would also be the same ones surprised to hear I had finished the paper without racing the clock. Don’t get me wrong. I procrastinated like any good, dedicated college student does; however, I also knew how to write the super essays in a timely manner without sacrificing my sleep. IEW’s planning strategies not only taught me how to structure a paper but how to structure my time as well. By separating the thinking process from the grammatical know-how, and the planning from the actual composition, I was allowed the freedom to spend time on the outline and the research because I knew I had the tools for composition in my back pocket.

Then came the day. The first paper for my first college class was due in a few days, and I had to move on from planning to executing. Things like the topic-clincher came naturally. Varying sentence structures stylistically didn’t take much thought. My compass and aim while I was sitting on that library chair was the penciled key word outline on the now coffee-stained paper. Thankfully, the IEW rules for grammar and syntax had become a part of me from the many semesters I had spent learning the same nine units and stylistic techniques each year. By the end of the day, I had a completed paper ready for an editor (because everyone needs an editor!). Was it perfect? No. But did I have the tools I needed in order to confidently do my best? Without a doubt.

The end of the semester’s papers came and went. I received my grade for them, and while not perfect, I was proud of the work I had done. Surprised as I read the comments left by my professor, I noted that the parts that stood out to him the most were the skills taught to me in the homeschool co-op classroom starting at age ten: the topic-clincher rule taught in Unit 4, the first paragraph introducing each of my topics, the structure of the super essay with the appropriate number of introductions and conclusions. These skills that had become natural, organic, and easy were the ones that shined through and helped my paper succeed at an academic level I had not been in before. Following Mr. Pudewa’s advice for writing at a college level, I studied the professor’s remarks left on paper, implemented what he sought, and avoided the opposite. To my amazement the next paper succeeded more than the first purely because of the skills IEW started to drill into my head at the tender age of ten.

So what is my takeaway from my first college year? For one, IEW is a blessing I shouldn't take for granted— a blessing because through its cyclical approach to the units of writing and its mastery-driven method to teaching stylistic techniques, I entered college fully prepared to tackle the many lengthy assignments that were given. My greatest downfall was that I knew writing wouldn’t be hard because I could do it, and this often led me to procrastinate more than I should have (possible next blog post: Should you ever procrastinate?). But that's through no fault of IEW's; the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of my bad habit. I am so thankful I’ve been taught to write using Structure and Style. I can see the fruit of all of my years of moving through the units. Next on my to be tackled list: procrastination!


Michelle Robinson started out working in Production and as a marketing assistant, but now enjoys working with the Customer Service Department. Having been homeschooled her whole life, Michelle had the opportunity to compete in a homeschool speech and debate league. Because she is a Latin scholar, Michelle has been asked to teach that subject to the local homeschooling community. Michelle is passionate about photography, her friends, and her faith.

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