The Writing Requirement

All first-year students are required to take a First-Year Writing (FYW) Course.

The topics covered here are the following:

1. The First-Year Writing Requirement
2. Frequently Asked Questions

The First-Year Writing Requirement

First-Year Writing courses provide a common introductory experience in college-level thinking and writing for all students at Wellesley and serves as the base for writing assigned in later courses. Writing faculty are committed to helping Wellesley students learn to use writing as a powerful tool of thought and expression. These courses are numbers WRIT 105 to WRIT 198.

All FYW courses have the primary goal of helping students establish a useful writing process, from developing ideas through revision. All sections provide instruction in argument and the use of evidence; in organization, style, and structure; and in the conventions of academic writing, including writing from sources. Students may choose to take a standard FYW course (meeting two periods a week and addressing a small, well-defined topic related to the instructor's expertise), or to study writing as part of an introductory course in another department (these "combined courses" are designated with a slash in the course title; all carry one unit of credit, fulfill distribution and/or major requirements, and meet for at least three periods each week).

All students are required to take their first-year writing course in either the fall or spring semester of their first year at Wellesley. Writing 199, a tutorial course taught by juniors and seniors under the close supervision of a faculty member, is available to students needing additional work on their writing after completing their FYW course. 

We regret that, because we have only a limited number of spaces available in these required courses, we cannot open them to auditors.

PLEASE NOTE: Students may not take a second semester of first-year writing unless they have the written consent of the Director of the Writing Program.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Writing Requirement:

Can I substitute a course I took somewhere else for my first-year writing?

No, our FYW courses are an introduction to writing at Wellesley. ALL students are required to take a first-year writing course; we offer no exemptions. In addition, FYW must be taken at Wellesley: AP credit courses or college-level writing courses taken at another college cannot be substituted (Exception: Davis Scholars and transfer students may substitute writing credit earned at another school for their FYW course).

What if I don't want to take Writing during my first year?

For many sound reasons, we expect and require students to take their writing courses during their first year. Students who have not fulfilled this requirement by their second semester at Wellesley will not be allowed to register until after everyone else in their class has registered; this penalty remains in effect until the student has completed the Writing Requirement. In addition, the Academic Review Board may impose other penalties, including academic probation, for students failing to complete this requirement successfully by the end of the first year.

I am a Davis Scholar who has transferred in a unit of credit for writing, but I need to learn more about writing. Can I take a writing course without losing my transfer unit?

Yes, any student at Wellesley can take up to two units of FYW for credit, as long as she demonstrates need. If you want to take a second semester of FYW for credit, consult the Director of the Writing Program.

I received a 5 on the AP Writing Test. Why do I need to take First-Year Writing?

We believe that writing is not a skill that can be taught "once and for all." The writing that you studied in high school was appropriate for the writer you were then; FYW courses offer advanced level instruction in academic writing. All professors at Wellesley College assume students have a vocabulary of writing that is taught in our first-year writing courses; they build on this base as they teach and assign writing in upper division courses across the disciplines.

I'm very worried about my writing skills. Are there any courses that will provide extra help?

Yes, there are.  Every year we offer a number of "intensive" sections designed to provide supports for students who need additional help making the transition from high school to college writing.  These classes are smaller (12 students per class) and are taught by instructors who are especially skilled at helping with a wide range of writers' problems.  These are not remedial or watered-down courses; we expect students to engage intellectually with the material to the same degree as in other Writing courses.  Two courses are designated for "multilingual" writers, two sections are reserved for students invited into the Wellesley Plus program (a program for first-generation college students) and two more serve other students who need intensive writing instruction.  Placement into these courses is based on a review of admissions materials but is also driven by students themselves.  The placement process will provide you with an opportunity to indicate your interest in these courses, and interested students are also encouraged to contact the program director, Professor Velenchik, at avelenchik@wellesley.edu to discuss their writing needs.

What else does the Writing Program do besides offer First-Year Writing?

The Writing Program serves your writing needs in a variety of ways that may be invisible to you. We work with faculty across the disciplines at Wellesley to help them use writing effectively in their courses. We train and supervise writing tutors who will help you write papers in your other courses. We offer several writing courses beyond FYW. We sponsor readings and events that focus on writing, and are happy to help student groups develop projects, events, and community service projects involving writing.

Contact Us

Contact Us

The Writing Program
Founders 124
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

Ann Velenchik
Program Director
avelench@wellesley.edu

Jeannine Johnson
Coordinator of the Writing Tutors

Yvonne Ollinger-Moore
Administrative Assistant
yollinge@wellesley.edu

Tel: 781.283.2576 or 781.283.2183
Fax: 781.283.3666