A recent U.S. News and World Report article, How Slang Affects Students in the Classroom, explores how “text-speak” or “textese” – abbreviations commonly used in text messages and on social networks, such as “LOL” – have impacted the way high school students and college applicants communicate.
In the article, Wake Forest University Dean of Admissions Martha Allman, says she has not yet “seen the shortcuts that you typically see in social communication.”
Fortunately, she says students in Wake Forest’s competitive applicant pool typically understand that language appropriate when texting friends does not meet the standards generally expected of an admissions essay.
Her advice to students? “Don’t throw away the English books yet.”
Allman adds, “While admissions officers do not necessarily expect 18th century formality in admissions essay writing, strong communication skills serve students well in college and in the job market after graduation.”
Though text messaging is a frequent means of connecting with his teenage son, Communication Department Chair and social media expert Ananda Mitra agrees that adaptation remains key to success both in higher education and in life.
Though Mitra does not expect a significant change in the standards of writing expected at the university level in the next five or ten years, he suggests that the evolution of language is inevitable.
“Children today are bilingual. Whether those of us from the analog generation like it or not, we should take the time to understand their other language as well,” Mitra says. In his teachings and his most recent book, “Alien Technology,” Mitra encourages people to learn more about “text-speak” to remain connected and safe.
While neither Allman nor Mitra anticipates a major shift on college campuses nationwide in the near future, they acknowledge that it remains to be seen whether “SMH” will appear in fine literature someday.
“IDK,” Mitra says, LOL.
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