Advice to the gateway students: A bright future is ahead!

Hello new MiWs!

I’m glad you’ve joined our cult. I think you’re really going to enjoy the gateway course. It has honestly been my favorite class at Michigan and I wish every student got the opportunity to experience it. I guess what makes it so great is that everyone who is in the class wants to be in it — they applied for it! No one thinks they’re ~too cool~ for writing and advice from their peers. I hope you put as much as you can into your time in the gateway course — you will get a good return on your investment. Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you find yourself in the Minor in Writing community your first semester:

  1. Be you! It is definitely intimidating being in a class full of writers, at first. It’s easy to assume that everyone else is probably better and more experienced at writing than you are — don’t. Like I said, you’re going to be in a class full of writers…don’t forget that you, too, are a writer. You’ll soon learn that the best way to grow as a writer is to take down the security wall you have up about what others will think of you and your writing.
  2. Manage your time. This class may require three projects (or at least did when I took it), but do not be fooled — there is much work to be done! You will be tasked with reflecting on your writing processes and given many short, engaging writing assignments. Putting things off until the last minute won’t help you develop as a writer so be strong and push through the want to procrastinate! Also, consider starting the practice of saving multiple drafts of an essay on your computer as you go along (i.e., create a new document every time you revisit and revise the draft) — it is an excellent way to observe how you progress through the revision process and helpful to include in reflective essays about “the making of” your projects!
  3. Use your resources. You are part of the Sweetland Writing community now! That’s an exciting title, but what does it mean? Not only do you have access to one-on-one faculty or peer writing support like all non-minors, you get additional time and a special sign-up schedule for making these appointments. You also get a community of writers who are in the same boat as you: your MiW cohort! I’m sure every group of people is different and group dynamics are always varying, but I cannot stress enough trying to build a bond and connection with your gateway class. I was lucky enough to part of a great group of peers and it made me love writing so much more. We currently have a GroupMe to commiserate in stress about assignments as well as cheer each other on and stay connected — 10/10 would recommend.
  4. Learn to L-O-V-E peer review. I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of peer review in some of my other English classes. Writing a one-page single-spaced letter to three peers at a time for one workshop day x 2-3 workshop days per project seemed daunting. If you feel that way now, it’s ok! Keep your mind open to change because I learned to love it. Peer review is such a great way to a) gather insight on your own writing by reading others’ and being forced to reflect on what worked and didn’t and b) help point your peers in the right direction. Don’t be afraid of being workshopped and don’t be annoyed to write letters — both will help you grow as a writer more than you imagined if you keep an open mind.

Thanks for sticking with me this long and making it to the end. You’re going to have a great semester in the gateway and a great college experience in the minor. Here’s a cute gif to reward you for reading my advice:

There’s Always Something to Do

To the future MiW gateway students,

When I first walked into my first Writing 220 gateway class, I saw the small table with 14 chairs and immediately became nervous. I didn’t consider myself to be a great writer and felt like I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the great, successful writers about to walk into the class. I just simply knew that I liked to write. So first piece of advice: don’t feel intimidated. Chances are, your cohort is in the same boat and has no idea what to expect. Everyone writes differently, everyone has their own tone, and everyone has their own interests that inspire them to write. There is no wrong way to complete or write in the class. As most classes are structured with exams or rubrics, we always had the freedom to practically create whatever writing we wanted within three guidelines: why you write, repurposing any piece, and remediating the repurposed project. Don’t be afraid to branch out, using different platforms like Wix, The Odyssey, The Atlantic, or others to ground your work in. Figure our your audience and simply write away. Write as much as you can, even the unnecessary, drawn-out details. You can go back later and revise as needed, but getting out all the information and analysis as you can will be a great starting point.

Although my advice for you could continue on for pages, there is one key aspect that is important to keep in mind throughout this gateway class: there is always something to do. If you think you’re done, you’re probably not. There is always revising to be done, more eyes to critique your work, and most importantly, a more effective way to present your argument. Also, never procrastinate until the last minute because I guarantee you that forming a successful ePortfolio or remediated project will not create itself within the late night before it’s due. Go with your gut, pace yourself, create personal timelines to efficiently complete your writing, and continue to push. You’d be surprised how much work you can pack into this 3-credit class and time will fly by doing so. In fact, you might even find yourself frustrated for being unable to have the time to go back after turning in your work to continue making it better. But no matter what, continue to work and have faith in what you produce. You’ll learn a lot about how to write along the way, but more importantly, you will learn more about yourself and your ability to analyze further and better than at the start of the class.

Manifesto: What do you believe/value about writing?

Not sure how I feel about this manifesto, but here goes…

All good writing is a kind of POETRY.
All good writing has a LIFE of its own.
The words tumble off the page and into the hearts and minds of the reader.
All good writing has a voice.
Find your voice.
All good writing stems from INSPIRATION
From reading, from nature, from conversations.
There is NO such thing as an original thought.
All good writing takes you outside of yourself.

Not all writers are “good writers.”
Not everything I think is “good” is “good.”
All good, useful writing has a PURPOSE:
An ENGINE that drives the narrator forwards towards some final, triumphant finale.

Advice to Future Gateway Students


I should preface this by saying that you should take all of this advice with a grain of salt. After all, do any of us really know what we’re talking about? Feel free to take any advice that works for you and to leave out the stuff that feels wishy-washy, too corny, or just not “you.”

That being said, here are my 4 tips for surviving (and thriving!) in the gateway course:

1) STAY ON TOP OF IT. There is more due in this class than you think. There are little writing assignments to do on top of reading on top of bigger papers on top of smaller papers. The deadlines for this class are pretty flexible, so just try to keep up with updated deadlines as they come and to maintain some sort of calendar so that you know what is due and when.

2) LOOK AHEAD. I’m a musical theatre major, and I knew going into this that I’d be in rehearsals for THE LITTLE MERMAID starting from spring break onwards. I tried to front-load some of the work that I had to do (especially with the bigger projects in the course). You can do this by working on your e-Portfolio regularly and just being aware of deadlines so you aren’t in over your head (see #1).

3) READ! I can’t think of a better piece of advice to improve your writing than this. I confess that I don’t have as much time as I’d like to read for fun, but still. Read as much as you can. Read blogs, read books, read newspapers, read magazines, read pieces published on online platforms. Do what you can to understand the different formats and styles you are writing for. I am working on this every day. Also: commit to knowing and using correct grammar!!!! Notice grammatical structures as you read! Employ them wisely! (Can you tell this is my pet peeve?)

4) USE YOUR COMMUNITY. Your teachers and your classmates are here for you. I wish I’d had more time to really apply this one tip to my own time in the gateway course. The people around you will you be your resources if you let them. Befriend them! Start a GroupMe! Go to Ben & Jerry’s together!

I hope some of these tips prove even the slightest bit useful. I remember reading these advice posts just three short months ago and wondering if I’d ever survive the gateway course. And I made it! You can — and will — too 🙂


To the Future Gateway Students

To the future gateway students:

This class is going to be fun. And challenging. There is a lot of freedom to be creative and to pursue your own ideas. With this comes a lot of responsibility. Deadlines are going to be a little more casual, so it’s on you to keep up with your work. It also might be easy to follow an idea that feels safe and easy. While this might help you get done faster, I think this class offers a fantastic opportunity to take some risks and see what you’re really capable of when given free reign to chase something that interests you.

My cohort made a groupme, which was super fun. This is a small class — you’ll see these same people for 3 hours a week, and you’ll share some pretty personal stuff with them in workshop. You might be lucky enough to be in classes together later. It’s a good opportunity to make friends. The better the environment, the more comfortable it is to be a little “out there” with your ideas.

Don’t fall behind on your projects or your ePortfolio. And definitely check out the ePortfolios your peers are making; people do really cool things, and it’s amazing to see how different people take on the same assignment. Your professor is a great resource. Whoever you get, they’ll be intelligent and engaged, and they will really, truly care about you as a student. Take advantage of that, because they rock.

I think this is a pretty common theme, but there’s a lot of opportunity in this class to challenge yourself, take risks, and break out of your comfort zone. It’s tough to do, but it’s worth it.

Good luck.

Advise to the future minors

When coming into the minor always remember these three things:

1.) Keep an open mind to ideas that your classmates give you about your writing. It only helps you as a writer.

2.) Ask questions. This one seems really typical and can be used for any class that you take at the university, but ask your classmates questions about your writing and make sure you write down their answers so you can go back to them.

3.) Use for your eportfolio. WordPress isn’t the easiest software to use.