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“It cant be that hard.”

Oh, it can. If you are attending Virginia Tech and have decided to take a first-year writing course this article is for you. First-year writing will be a new for most of you. Compiled below are 5 things you should come to expect from the course.

1. You will write a lot.

You might already know that in a first-year writing class your workload will be substantial but the actual amount of writing you will be doing will still be shocking. You are expected to write 3 essays and 2 ten page submissions of informal writing. That may not seem like much but when you add in homework, discussions boards, and weekly readings, you have a lot on your plate.

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2. Procrastination can fail you.

Coming from high school to college is a big step and when you take that step you have to leave a lot of old habits at the door. Writing is not something that can be done overnight. With the workload you’re expected to keep up with, along with your other classes, you have to plan almost everything out in advance. Ten-page papers cannot be finished overnight and be perfect. Writing a paper is a time-consuming process of rough drafts, revisions, and peer editing that cannot simply be crammed into the early hours of the day. Trust me on this one, you don’t want to find yourself with a paper due tomorrow that you haven’t started.

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3. You are going to learn.

Going into the course you may think you have a strong foundation in English and will just breeze through, wrong. In high school, critiquing is minimal in comparison.  College is much different. All of those things that made an exceptionally skilled English student in high school is an expectation. You are expected to have mastered the basic mechanics of English in college. This includes word processing, sentence structure, and grammatical correctness. If you haven’t mastered English, which most of us haven’t, you will be shocked at how much you don’t know about writing.

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4. You are going to do a lot of reading.

You will read everything from short stories to poems. The more you read the better you write, and the professors here swear by this daily. The important thing to know about tackling the readings is to understand that you should read with a purpose. That means no distractions and sufficient note taking. 9/10 times the material you read outside of class will be discussed in class, and you don’t want to be the one who gets called on to share your opinion and have nothing to say.

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5. You may not do as well as you expect.

Since this is probably your first English college course it is a given that it will be more difficult than what you have been exposed to. The important thing to focus on is to learn. You cannot learn if you do not make mistakes and failing is a necessary part of growth. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t do well on your first paper. Take it with a grain of salt and view your failure as a learning opportunity. If you need more help you should go to your professor’s office hours and talk with them, they are usually more than happy to help and they will be glad you’re making the effort.

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All in all, have an open mind and an attitude to learn. You are here to get better and you definitely will if you stick with it. Remember, don’t wait until the last minute. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Do the readings before class. And don’t be afraid to write.

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Caleb Bishop

I am a University studies major at Virginia Tech. I'm just trying to find my way in the world. I believe everything happens for a reason and hopefully you'll find something that will help you in my writings.


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