College Writing Requirement

Because Middlebury College values writing, all students are required to take two writing intensive courses. The first writing intensive course is the First Year Seminar, taught by faculty across the disciplines. The second writing intensive course is generally taken by the end of a student's sophomore year or as advised by their major area of study. This course is designated by a "CW."  

The second-level CW course features in-class discussion of writing and attention to revision. College writing courses are limited in size and faculty are asked to provide written responses to drafts and to meet individually with students to discuss their work. Many college writing courses also assign peer review.

Expectations for writing in the second-level CW course vary from department to department and class to class. Some classes require twenty pages of polished prose. Others require writing that includes charts and graphs, or perhaps writing for the web. These classes might not think in terms of page numbers.

In CW classes instructors might assign informal writing as well as formal writing. Informal writing, often known as "writing to learn," might be graded or ungraded and might include journals, field notes, informal responses to readings, online discussions, and in-class writing. Informal writing might be used as a way to begin a formal paper or as a means to generate good class discussion. 

Formal writing assignments are usually graded, and might include critical and/or creative work. Genres include: argumentative essays, research papers, literature reviews, case studies, op-eds, blogs, digital writing, critical narratives, etc.

Some departments reserve their college writing classes for students majoring in their discipline. In other departments the CW class is open to students across the college, and course content may vary widely.

Faculty seeking approval of their CW class should contact Catharine Wright, Director of the Writing and Rhetoric Program. In addition, faculty may contact any member of the Writing and Rhetoric Program to discuss their goals for their CW class and to obtain feedback on writing assignments, syllabus design, the peer review process, or responding to student writing.

Members of the Writing and Rhetoric Program are also available to visit classes to talk with you and your students about writing.