Writing is central to academic life at Wellesley, and it will play an important role in students’ lives after they graduate. The starting point for writing at Wellesley is the First-Year Writing (FYW) course.
Each year, we offer more than 30 different FYW courses, all of which fulfill Wellesley's writing requirement. These courses are taught by faculty from many departments around campus, as well as by a team of professionals based in the Writing Program. All of our faculty are committed to helping students learn to use writing as a powerful tool of thought and expression, and as a way to participate in civic life.
Each FYW course is focused on a particular topic or theme, which students explore through readings and related materials, discussion, experimental learning, research, and various forms of writing. FYW courses aim to help students establish a useful writing process, from developing ideas through drafting and revision. Students will practice analysis and interpretation; construct well-ordered, evidence-based arguments; provide support and feedback to their peers; and learn to write with a stronger awareness of audience and a greater sense of purpose.
Students may take a standard FYW course or a class that combines writing with an introductory course in another department. Combined classes have a WRIT and a departmental number, for example, WRIT 115/ARTS 115. Combined classes carry one unit of credit, fulfill distribution and/or major requirements, and meet for three or four class periods each week. Students are assigned to their writing course based on preferences they express during the summer pre-registration process.
Students who need additional help making the transition from high school to college writing may take one of several fall classes specially designed for them. Two courses are reserved for students participating in the Wellesley Plus program. In addition, six other classes provide extra support for students for whom one or more of the following is true: they did not do much academic writing in high school beyond test prep; they lack confidence in their writing or find writing a source of stress; they feel they have a slow or inefficient writing process; or they speak English as a second or additional language. Courses reserved for students in the Wellesley Plus program or for students wanting extra support have that designation in the “Notes” section underneath the course description. These courses fulfill the Wellesley writing requirement.
Once students have completed the writing requirement, they are eligible to enroll in upper-level Writing Program (WRIT) classes. Many Wellesley courses outside the Writing Program curriculum emphasize writing, including the Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing. Students interested in creative writing should consult the English and Creative Writing Department course listings.
FYW courses offered in the fall semester are covered by the college's shadow grading policy. In most writing courses, faculty members give students letter grades during the semester and on their semester grade reports, though those semester grades are shadowed on students' official transcripts. In other fall writing classes, no letter grades are given at any point. These latter types of courses are designated with "No letter grades given" in the "Notes" section underneath the course description.
FYW courses in the spring are offered either with standard grading or as “mandatory credit/noncredit.” These latter types of courses are so designated in the "Notes" section.
Writing courses offered at Wellesley during the summer do not fulfill the College’s writing requirement.
Writing Program Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete their first-year writing (FYW) course will have shifted their orientation as writers from an inward-facing mindset (writing as a perfunctory performance of competence, reliance on the five-paragraph essay, emphasis on the writer) to an outward-facing approach (writing as form of learning and of teaching, use of more flexible and sophisticated forms of writing, emphasis on the reader).
This shift in orientation will be reflected in students being able to:
Approach writing as an evolving process that requires them to brainstorm, draft, share, reflect, and revise.
Understand the mechanisms of sentence structure and writing design that produce precise and reader-friendly prose.
Write with an attentiveness to genre, medium, and audience, and make appropriate choices regarding language, register, evidence, and argument.
Locate, analyze, and evaluate different types of sources, and integrate them effectively into evidence-based writing.
Write with purpose and have a stake in their ideas.