Every student is required to take University Writing to help them acclimate to college writing – but not every student gets a chance to take the course when it is most helpful.
The introductory course is focused on building students’ writing skills during their freshman year to set themselves up for success in the next three years of school. Officials offer 89 UW options this semester for a freshman class of more than 2,500 students. There are enough UW courses to accommodate the entire freshman class, but not every student can make room in their schedule for UW.
Some students cannot fulfill this course requirement in their first semester or even their first year because they have other scheduling conflicts. Most of the UW courses are also offered only on the Mount Vernon Campus, which tacks on another time commitment for students to consider when creating their schedules. Some students are forced to take a UW course in their second year, leaving them one year behind on learning the techniques necessary to take an intensive writing class. The University should reconsider the location of the class and create more sections so every freshman can take UW during their first year.
Those who could not enroll in UW courses because the classes reached capacity are held back from pursuing their interests because they have not completed this requirement. If a student takes UW in their sophomore or junior year, they will have taken many courses without the necessary writing preparation to succeed in other higher-level courses.
Officials intend for a smaller class size – capped at 17 students – to foster a more interactive environment. But the cap means classes fill up quickly, leaving some freshmen out of the UW courses they need to take. This semester, there are 81 open UW classes – which would accommodate about 1,400 of the 2,500 students that comprise the Class of 2023. Officials should not only offer the number of UW classes that would barely include every freshman. There should be more sections available to include every student.
UW classes are also located on the Vern, meaning that the one hour and 15 minutes of class time requires a longer time commitment because students need to commute back and forth. Finding an open space in students’ busy schedules is challenging because the majority of freshmen live on the Foggy Bottom Campus, and long trips to the Vern can be difficult to fit into their schedules. Students may push off their UW courses so they can find more time to fit the class into their schedules.
The purpose of this course is to prepare freshmen for their future classes and set them up for academic success. Officials should deliver on that purpose by expanding course offerings and holding some classes in Foggy Bottom so all freshmen have the opportunity to take the class during their first year. GW advertises UW as an award-winning program, so the University should make sure every student has the chance to take the class during the time it is supposed to be taken: freshman year.
Jane Cameron, a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communication, is an opinions writer.