Congrats on making one of the smartest academic decisions during your time at U of M. To be honest, I initially took interest in the Minor in Writing because I was a COMM major looking for a way to beef up my credentials and take some actually enjoyable classes. I’m so glad that the minor fell into place for me because it has become a part of my academic life here at Michigan that I truly enjoy.
The minor in writing is far more than just a set of classes with a quota of credits needing to be met before graduation. It is a small community in which you develop as a writer and a person, and through which you get inspired by your peers in a very unique way. The freedom of having to only take 2 “minor” classes, and to develop your writing through classes in all disciplines, allows you to develop writing skills in a wide variety of areas. The classes for the minor itself are meaningful and challenging in all the right ways. Your first semester, you will take the gateway course, in which you will have the opportunity to transform old pieces of writing, utilize multimedia platforms, as well as create your own website. I am so proud of the website, or “ePortfolio,” I have created as a summation of this course, and have already passed it on to potential employers, friends, and family.
With that said, the writing minor is an extremely unique community full surprises. Part of the fun are the accomplishments and challenges that are a part of the gateway course, but here are some tips for your first class so you’re not going in completely blind:
1. Take advantage of the fact that your cohort only has about 50 people, with a group of faculty who really want to help you. Unlike your major, for which you probably wait with 25 other students just to meet with your GSI for 5 minutes, the minor in writing faculty will set up appointments with you and are completely responsive and accommodating. Meet with those faculty and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Develop relationships with the people in your class and the other class in the cohort. You will get so much more out of the minor when you play an active role in the minor community.
2. Step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to choosing project topics, platforms, and content. Unlike traditional academic assignments, the writing minor assignments are less structured and allow so much more creativity. If you’re in a pretty rigid major like me, this will be your only opportunity to play with videos, Tumblr, Prezi, etc. and to write so personally, so take advantage of that.
3. Make yourself vulnerable to feedback. In no other class will you have the opportunity to receive peer revision on so many mediums, in so many stages of your paper. I wasn’t used to having people spend 20 minutes talking about a piece of my writing, so that took some getting used to. But that feedback was so crucial when it came time to revise my paper; the revision process came so much easier when I had a diverse variety of opinions to work with. It seems scary at first, but trust me, it makes you a better writer in the end.
Overall, just be so, so excited about what’s to come. You’re now part of a tiny but extremely special and meaningful community at a school of 50,000. I swear it feels like I was just reading an older cohort’s advice for me. Before you know it, you’ll be doing the same. BEST OF LUCK! 🙂