About First-Year Writing

Whether you’re transitioning from high school, the English Language Training Institute here at UNC Charlotte, or transferring from another institution of higher education, you’re probably wondering what kind of writing you’ll be doing in your first year at UNC Charlotte. What is a First-Year Writing course anyway?

Most colleges and universities require students to take one or two writing courses during their first year to fulfill their general education requirements. These first-year writing courses serve as the foundation for writing practice that will continue as you progress through your studies. To understand what these courses will be like, it’s helpful to understand how they might be different than other writing courses you have taken.

What your First-Year Writing course… is NOT:

  • a literature course—all reading is fundamental to writing, but you won’t be reading and analyzing literature like you might have done in high school. Instead, you’ll be reading a wide variety of texts (mostly nonfiction), everything from scholarly articles on writing theory to contemporary blogs.
  • a creative writing course—you will write a great deal in first-year writing, but this writing practice is to help you become an informed academic writer, not a writer of poetry, short stories or plays.
  • about grammar drills—we view grammar conventions as only one of the many tools writers use to communicate effectively in a variety of writing situations.
  • a large lecture class—your first-year writing course usually has around 22 students, so you’ll get to know your classmates and instructor well. It may be one of the few classes your first two years where you have the opportunity for discussion and in-class group work, which is one of the many reasons why attendance and participation are so important.

So what can you expect in your first-year writing course?

To write … a lot! Writers develop through practice, feedback, and reflection. You’ll be writing in various genres, sharing your work with peers, and reflecting on what writing strategies and processes work best for you. In essence, your first-year writing course will help you understand yourself as a writer and help you make connections between your past writing experiences and the kind of writing you will need to do in your future.

What will you learn in First-Year Writing?

All First-Year Writing courses (WRDS 1103 / WRDS 1104) share the same title: Writing and Inquiry in Academic Contexts, so in addition to exploring what it means to be a writer and the discipline of writing studies, you’ll be conducting inquiries into a variety of subjects, some that your instructor will choose and others that you will choose based on your own curiosity. You’ll learn to identify and develop rhetorical knowledge, critical reading, composing processes, and critical reflection. For more detail about the department’s goals, visit our Student Learning Outcomes page.

First-Year Writing is just a stepping stone. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are already a reader and writer with a lifetime of experience. Your First-Year Writing course will build on what you already know about yourself as a reader and a writer while introducing you to the conventions and expectations of college writing, acting as one of many “stepping stones” between high school and college. You will continue to practice and hone your writing skills as you continue your higher education, but what you may not realize is how integral writing will be in your daily life after you graduate. Setting yourself up for success means digging in and getting as much out of your First-Year Writing experience as possible.