FYI- Future Eng/CW Students

I just got off the phone w/ my son. He’s a FY at Kenyon and planning on declaring his English major w/ concentration in Creative Writing very soon. He told me today that he attended a departmental meeting this week and learned some interesting things are coming to the Eng/CW dept.

First, as you may or may not know Kenyon just completed renovating/building the new English Quad. As such, they’ve also hired several new Eng/CW profs. They’ve done this to grow the dept’s offerings aaaaannnnd… have a Creative Writing major!! This may not happen right away, but it’s coming! They also want to add a bunch of new classes. My S said these are still being discussed but he said some possibilities being thrown about are: Writing the Novel (probable year long class), Graphic Novels (might be in conjunction w/ Art Dept), Screenwriting (currently in the Film Dept, might become part of an interdiscipline). He said there were others, but these were off the top of his head.

Secondly, to take any of the Advanced(300 level) writing courses there has historically been a thorough application process. But one of the things they have noticed is that this process skews toward students who have been able to attend very elite high schools. Factors such as: taking CW classes, attending CW camps, and taking part in literary magazines (all in a high school setting) are what will differentiate b/w kids who are accepted and those who are not. If you are a student who didn’t have these in your high school, you are already starting from the back of the line and will have much more difficulty being accepted into the higher level writing classes. These higher levels courses are required for the current Creative Writing concentration.
The profs are also not happy about non-English major students not being able to take these classes. They are acknowledging the non-inclusiveness of the whole thing… and are looking to make changes!

My son is a little disappointed that some of these changes are coming a bit late for him. He won’t be able to major in CW, only have the concentration. But he’s also excited!! These are good changes and it looks like some will be coming very quickly. He and most of his friends in the dept had been planning on spending a year abroad… now some are seriously re-thinking that plan. Some are thinking about only going abroad for a semester, if at all, b/c they want more opportunities to experience any changes.

Thank you so much for this update! Though my daughter is an RD applicant, so I have no idea if she will get in, this is definitely intriguing news! (She got to be a part of Kenyon Young Writers Workshop in summer 2019. It was an amazing experience!)

Hi ChaosParent23, I think we are NC neighbors? How does your DS like Kenyon. I have the DD-22 who wants a fun & funky street nearby her college and is also interested in Creative Writing. She has been doing workshops with a local author since elementary school and is pretty serious right now, although I know things could still change for her. I’m not sure if Kenyon is even on her radar or even in our budget, but would love to hear more about it to take my mind of the weird weird world we are living in right now.

Yep, we’re in Chapel Hill. My S absolutely loves Kenyon. He’s actually headed to Gambier w/ his dad as I type to move out of his dorm room. He’s pretty heartbroken right now but hopeful for returning in the fall.
I would absolutely recommend Kenyon to anyone looking for a great academic school, particularly if they are interested in CW.

Kenyon’s little village is adorable, but very small. Still, it has just about everything they need. It splits north campus (mostly residential), from south campus (mostly academic, but also residential).

  • Wiggin’s Coffee: excellent coffee and plenty of seating. usually packed w/ kids studying
  • Village Market: Small grocery store. Has some fresh fruit/veg, chicken. Also deli meats/cheese. And plenty of other snacks, cleaning/laundry supplies, soups, drinks, etc. Approved pets are also allowed on campus so there’s a bit of pet supplies too.
  • Kenyon Bookstore: campus gear, books, and snacks.
  • Gambier Post Office
  • Gambier Deli: drool!! They make the best b’fast sandwiches!
  • Village Inn (VI): nicer restaurant.
  • Chilitos Fresh Mex: ate here over Parents Weekend. Pretty good! Think Chipotle
  • Kenyon Inn and Restaurant
  • Campus Auto: tiny, but they do have a gas pump

Then there’s also a shuttle into Mount Vernon a few times a day. S has only taken it into town a few times this year to do things like see a movie, get a haircut, etc.

The only bad thing, and it’s up to you how much it matters to your D… the trip up to Gambier from NC is no joke! The mountains of West VA are not at all fun. Depending on traffic and how fast you drive, it’s about a 7 1/2- 8 hr drive. Flights aren’t terrible. There’s a student run shuttle that operates over breaks that take kids to the C-bus airport (an hour away). This is definitely the best way to get to the airport. Flights from C-bus to RDU aren’t great. We got lucky over thanksgiving and got direct flights home & back, but flights for Spring Break were pretty crappy. Expensive w/ long layovers. Kenyon is perfect for my son, I just wish it were a little closer.

Lastly, everyone at Kenyon truly cares. Communications from the school have been decisive but heartfelt. They are truly heartbroken to have to close school.

Oh, and one more thing…
Kids don’t need a car. S didn’t take one this year and he really didn’t miss it.
That said, we’re probably sending him back to school in the fall w/ a car.
Classes for the Film Dept are mostly at the brand new Wright Center, in downtown Mount Vernon. Now, granted it’s only maybe 7-10 min drive away and there’s a shuttle. But my S said most kids end up driving or carpooling b/c if you have other classes on campus w/in a short time frame, it can be really hectic to catch the shuttle in time.

That sounds awesome. I ran the net price on it, though, and I’m afraid we are in that sweet spot where we will not qualify for much, if any, financial aid, but are probably priced out of it w/o some kind of aid or merit scholarships. It’s up there with Duke and Davidson price wise. We are aiming to fully fund D’s education (no student loans). I’ll lay that out for her and who knows maybe she’ll get an awesome scholarship.

Yeah, it’s expensive! It would’ve been really tough for us if we hadn’t used Dh’s GI Bill to send S to Kenyon.

Are classes very hard to get into?

Yes and no. The first 3 semesters, my son always got closed out of classes… sometimes as many as 3 in a single semester. That said, as long as you contact Profs immediately & get on waiting lists, you stand a really good chance of your schedule working out.

I see, so he got the classes he wanted in junior and senior year? Ty

Really only the first semester was a disaster. Then this semester (Spring, Soph)he got everything he wanted. Like I said, he was able to contact Profs and get on waiting lists and he may not have gotten exactly everything he wanted, he was at least close. Spring of FY he was able to get into the 200 level CW Fiction class a week late b/c a spot opened up. Profs at Kenyon are very approachable! My suggestion would be to take an intro class your first semester in the Dept(s) you think you might major in. Cultivate a good relationship w/ those Profs! Go to office hours, departmental meetings, speak up in class, etc.

Okay thanks! That’s a relief!
Do you know anything about the difficulty of getting into 300 level writing courses? I saw that they require a writing sample

It’s becoming easier. My son took the Adv. Fiction last semester as a Soph and he said the process really wasn’t bad. He wasn’t enrolled right away as all the spots went to Seniors and I think a few Juniors. The English Profs are trying to make these classes more inclusive and not strictly for English/CW majors. The English Dept is far and away the biggest, (usually upwards up 70 graduates a year) while capping the CW classes at 14? 15? I think. So it’ll be interesting to see how they reconcile those two factors.

I assume you’re asking about English/CW classes, and my daughter (a first-year) is only taking her first (intro) English class this semester, but I thought I’ll still chime in. It was a little harder this year to get into first-choice classes in general, because normally many juniors leave for a study abroad and more spots are open, but this wasn’t the case this year because of COVID, obviously. Also, freshmen are remote this semester, so their options were even more limited. Still, in the first semester she got into all of her first-choice classes, and in the second, she got into most of her first- or close second-choice classes, so it wasn’t too bad for her (but I know that some people had more problems). Yes, a contact with a professor helps, and your advisor might be able to help, too.

I see, thank you! I was worried because I also saw someone saying that at Amherst, where creative writing classes are also very popular, it was near impossible to get into one