As part of the Common Course of study, Lafayette students take 4 courses designated as “W” or “writing intensive.”

As part of the Common Course of study, Lafayette students take 4 courses designated as W, or writing intensive.  W courses are offered across the curriculum, and they all have the following things in common:  you will write at least 20 pages or 5,000 words across the semester; receive feedback on your work; learn to revise in response to that feedback; and acquire strategies for composing, revising, editing, and proofreading.

Some W courses currently offered introduce students to the conventions of academic writing (FYS, ENG 100); some take issues in writing or language as their primary subject of inquiry (e.g., ENG 202, ENG 250); and some teach discipline-specific writing conventions (e.g. ART 216, ECON 311, MATH 356).

While one of the four W courses—First Year Seminar—is required, the others are largely the student’s to determine in consultation with the academic advisor.  However, students are expected to take one 300-level W in the major department and one W outside of it. They should also plan W courses so that writing experiences are distributed across all four years (this requirement is not one to be completed in the first two years, especially since Lafayette students do not formally declare a major until spring semester of their sophomore year).

CWP designed the following guidelines to help students choose appropriate W courses (appropriate, that is, to individual needs and interests). In choosing a W, students should consider with advisers the aggregate of bulleted items listed under each option below. In other words, these are indeed a set of guidelines and not a checklist.

Finally, please bear in mind that although the W requirement consists of four courses, you are not limited to that number. The development of writing skills takes time and effort, and Lafayette’s requirement is designed to let you choose the courses most relevant to your individual abilities, majors, and schedules.

Introduction to Academic Writing (ENG 100) is probably best for me if:

  • I am a first-year or sophomore student looking for additional practice with academic writing conventions after my FYS.
  • In high school, I did not do much writing.
  • Generally I don’t read unless I have to.
  • I am often confused or uncertain about how to organize my ideas–where to begin, how to paragraph, how to conclude, and so forth.
  • Surface errors in my writing have interfered with a reader’s ability to follow my ideas.
  • I type or retype my papers on a computer, but don’t really revise my work.
  • I don’t think of myself as a strong writer.
  • I would benefit from taking a course in which I would write regularly and receive regular feedback on my writing.

A Writing Seminar (English 202) is probably best for me if:

  • I want to take a course whose subject is writing and language, a course in which I can expect to write regularly and receive feedback on my writing.
  • I read newspapers and magazines regularly.
  • In the past year, I read books for my own enjoyment.
  • I feel fairly comfortable in planning and organizing an essay–knowing where to begin, how to paragraph, how to conclude, and so forth.
  • I have specific strategies I use to draft and revise my writing. There are specific issues I know to look for when I edit my work.
  • I haven’t had problems with grammar and punctuation (commas, apostrophes, etc) that interfered with the quality of my work or my ability to complete my assignments successfully.
  • I consistently receive positive feedback and grades on my writing from my instructors.
  • I consider myself a reasonably good reader and writer.

A “W” course in my major field or another department is probably best for me if:

  • I want to take a course in which I will learn more about discipline-specific writing conventions (i.e., writing in English, Philosophy, Biology, etc.) and in which writing is primarily assigned as a tool for learning.
  • I feel generally comfortable writing on my own and confident in my ability to revise my writing in response to feedback I receive from professors, classmates, and/or WAs.
  • I feel comfortable with the expectations and conventions of college level writing.
  • I have already done a fair amount of writing at Lafayette College and have received relatively positive feedback on my writing.