To future minor in writing students:

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! 🙂

Sarah Schuman

Hi! I'm Sarah, from the Chicago area. I write more eloquently with a chai latte by my side.

4 thoughts to “To future minor in writing students:”

  1. Sarah, I readily accept your advice on exploring the minor and having fun along the way. One reason I entered this minor was to join a smaller academic community and I fully intend on building relationships with both my fellow minor in writing students and the writing faculty. Perhaps most applicable to me, however, is your advice on picking project topics, platforms, and content. I can relate to you in that my major (biochemistry) is pretty rigid and doesn’t allow much fluctuation in terms of completing assignments or exams. Having the freedom to direct the gateway assignments in personally fulfilling and beneficial directions is very exciting. While it will definitely require stepping outside of my comfort zone, I look forward to exploring new avenues of writing. It seems this minor truly values personal growth in both writing and thinking, and I am excited to see where I end up. Best of luck to you this year and thank you for the insight.

  2. Hi Sarah!

    Thanks so much for your advice for students just beginning the minor. As a business major, I agree with both you and Jeremy that my other classes can be rigid and uniform regarding assignments and exams. I readily accept the challenge to be more creative in my assignments in the minor. I am very excited to explore my more creative side as well as seeing other students’ creativity. I appreciate your honesty and authentic excitement for the minor – it is definitely inspiring.

  3. Hi Sarah!
    I will say the thing that stood out to me the most was your comment of “The minor in writing is far more than just a set of classes with a quota of credits needing to be met before graduation.” This statement was basically the reason for my interest in doing the minor in writing program! I am excited to be able to explore and experiment with writing and will definitely take your advice on stepping out of my comfort zone! I tend to be rigid when it comes to academic assignments so I cannot wait to have some fun! Thank you for all of your advice!

  4. Sarah: Thank you for your advice! As you mentioned, peer feedback and revision can truly be a critical portion of garnering ones skills as a growing writer. At times, it can certainly be challenging to listen to open criticism on a piece you developed. Growing up, investing several hours of work into a given essay/article, I often felt as if my efforts were complete. However, after several English courses and additions to my skillset as a writer, I feel that one ought to consult several individuals when attempting to create the most coherent and professional works of writing possible.
    I definitely feel that there are many reasons to be excited for the Minor, and I feel most excited to work with and exchange ideas with the faculty and students that make up our cohort. We are all here to hone our skills as writers, and to also step outside of our comfort zones. I’ve learned so much from listening to the advice of my peers and faculty here at Michigan, and experiencing the same types of discussions within the Minor is my greatest hope as a member of the program!

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