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Writing intensive course in first semester at Brown

NewYorkMetsNewYorkMets Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
edited August 2012 in Brown University
Hi guys,

I read somewhere that it is crucial (or at least strongly recommended) for a first-year at Brown--who is determined to get a well-rounded education/advance his writing skills considerably over the course of his Brown career--to take one writing-intensive course during his first semester here. I've also read comments from Brown students who regretted not taking a writing course like Fiction I or Intro to Creative Nonfiction straight off the bat, as they felt that they sort of lagged behind/struggled later in their Brown careers.

Does this idea hold considerable merit? Do most students opt to take small, discussion-based, writing-intensive classes in their first semester/year, and does this help them considerably?

I'm asking this now because I've found that most of the classes that I'm interested in are larger, lecture-based classes. I went to a HS that offered primarily small, discussion-intensive classes, so I have a feel for these classes, although I didn't particularly enjoy/excel in them. When I have to make a final decision, would it be wise to "give up" one of my preferred lecture classes in favor of a small, writing-intensive course (none of which particularly captivate me as of right now, to be honest) during my first semester here?
Post edited by NewYorkMets on

Replies to: Writing intensive course in first semester at Brown

  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    The typical recommendation is to take at least one seminar-style course first semester. And I think it would be a good idea to take a writing intensive class in your first two years.

    However, you don't need to do what's recommended if it doesn't work for you. My daughter followed this advice her freshman year, ended up disliking her seminar class and loving her lecture classes. She regrets not taking a lecture class instead of that seminar. If you think you're OK in four large classes than go for it. By junior and senior year you'll be in mostly small classes anyway.

    However, I do think it's a good idea to avoid taking four classes that have the same type of workload -- four reading and writing intensive classes, or four problem set classes. Is there diversity of workload and subject material in those four courses?
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown Posts: 8,253 Forum Champion
    The beauty of Brown is you should take the classes that YOU want to take.

    I took a first year seminar that happened to be "writing intensive" (at least I think it earned that designation for having to write 4 papers). I would prioritize taking an FYS over some other class that you can take later if any of the FYS appeal to you. I can't speak to the idea of "lagging behind if you don't take a writing class early" as I came from a very writing intensive high school. My guess is you are hearing this because for the majority of Brown freshman, the level of writing proficiency expected at Brown is exponentially higher than their high school.
  • BrownAlumParentBrownAlumParent Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    You know better than anyone here, or than general advice, whether you would benefit from or like a general writing course. There are plenty of small seminar type courses that will turn out to be writing type courses, even if they are not specifically labelled as "writing". Do you think you need the structure of the writing designated course, and the extra "remediation" for writing well? Maybe you would prefer to take something in a language dept (eg. lit of that language in translation), or classics or anthropology or whatever. Anyway, start with a varied course load in classes that look interesting. If one of those is in a seminar that is freshman only, or fresh/soph preference, then take that since it will be harder or not allowed later. Shopping period and talking to upper classmen as much as you can about courses for the first week will help.
This discussion has been closed.