Point: Take Writing 111
It’s true: Writing 111 squashes creativity and encourages formulaic writing. But here’s why you should take it.
The class is basically composed of three essays: personal, opinion and research. By the end of the semester, you’ll have about 20 double-spaced pages of writing, not including citations. Those pages are your ticket to fulfilling the elusive “joint” Gen Ed requirement, which counts for both composition and oral communication.
The humanities students out there shouldn’t find this too difficult. The class will often feel like an elaborate game of Mad Libs, based on a rubric where you need to fill in sentences and paragraphs instead of words. It can take a lot of work to do the proper research for an essay, but it shouldn’t be particularly difficult. Put in the work, and take the low-hanging A grade and joint Gen Ed. Also, just because this is an intro class doesn’t mean you won’t learn anything about writing. Your teaching assistant will likely be a Ph.D. student from a humanities field and, believe it or not, will certainly have more writing experience than you do. A back-to-basics approach to writing can be helpful and, with the researched essay, you’ll have the rare opportunity to learn and write about any topic of your choice and get credit for it.
For the writing-phobic out there, don’t be intimidated. Writing 111 is a great way to learn the standards of college essays. Be assured, you will have to write essays at some point in your college career, and Writing 111 is a relatively painless way to learn how. A class size of 16 and a TA who accepts endless essay revisions until the end of the semester are a pretty convenient way to learn how. This way, a few semesters from now when you need to write that science research paper for that 300-level class, you’ll be prepared. And, of course, that joint Gen Ed means one less requirement you’ll have to take down the road.
- Jacob Shamsian
Counterpoint: Don’t take Writing 111
Writing is important. Being able to write well is essential regardless of your major, so yeah, we should all be required to take a writing class. That being said, Writing 111 is not that class. Writing 111 is a good idea in theory; it’s a great way to meet freshmen, and it’s still better than other undergraduate courses.
But Writing 111 has some serious flaws. First, students can just reuse their college admission essays. A ton of my friends did it, and they were the ones who did the best in the class. Also, your final portfolio — the three pieces you choose to be graded — is assessed by a group of Writing 111 teachers, not just your teacher. So there’s a good chance that your teacher could be an easy grader, giving As for your pieces individually, but when your final portfolio is graded by the collective, you may be in for a shock. And on the subject of instructors, you could be assigned literally anyone for Writing 111, from associate professor Al Vos to a graduate student with no teaching experience. It’s an unpredictable class, and during such an impressionable time as freshman year, it’s a flawed course.
Explore the other options that fulfill the same Gen Ed requirement!
- Darian Lusk