Don't Write Like a College Professor

Do you write like a college professor?

If you do, rid yourself of the habit. College graduates who write like their college professors could find their job search even harder. The business world favors employees who can write simple, declarative sentences.

In contrast, college professors are masters at obfuscation. They write stilted prose. They embrace words with five or six syllables. They crowd their papers with sentences jammed with lots of clauses. If people talked the way these pedantic profs wrote, our ears would ache.

Perhaps I’m more sensitive to ostentatious writing because I was a journalism major. My professors at the University of Missouri School of Journalism persuasively shared with me the the joys of writing simply. I still own my collegiate copy of The Elements of Style by E.B. White.

After attending journalism school, which might be the only academic refuge that truly values good writing, I couldn’t tolerate stuffy prose. I quit graduate school after one semester because I just couldn’t stomach the bombastic textbook content.

I am writing this college blog post because I ran across an academic-sentence generator at the University of Chicago’s writing program that lets you write like a professor. The software encourages you to pick different words and then it strings them together into the sort of sentences that you routinely see  in academia.

When I used the academic-sentence generator, here is the winner that I came up with:

The illusion of desire is homologous with the fantasy of linguistic transparency.

Have fun with the software, but in real life, don’t write like that!

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she writes another college blog at

Further Reading:

Writing a Winning College Essay

The College Essay Word Count

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