Many universities require students in all majors to take an English composition class or a first-year writing seminar. Sometimes, students can opt out of such classes with a high enough SAT writing score or Advanced Placement English score. However, taking English composition classes can be very helpful in learning to navigate college-level writing expectations.
Learn to Write
Writing isn't just for English majors. Taking an English composition course can prepare you to write successful papers throughout your university career. In nearly every major, you will need to prove your knowledge on tests, organize information in research papers and explain your ideas or opinions in essays. Any major in the humanities will require a significant amount of writing, but students pursuing other passions are not exempt. For example, doctors and scientists will need to write grants to obtain money or publish research articles to advance their careers.
Learn to Think Critically
Unlike many high school English classes, an English composition class isn't about analyzing symbolism in fiction and poetry and learning proper grammar and sentence structure. It's about learning to think and express ideas clearly. In such a class, you will learn how to read carefully and closely and develop your own ideas based on such readings. Perhaps most importantly, you will learn how to convince readers of your point of view and how to acknowledge and respond to potential opposition.
Learn How to Research
An English composition class might save you from a lot of heartache later on in your university career because you will eventually need to write a paper that requires research. Many freshman writing classes teach you how to navigate both the library and the library database system. Many students find that there are many more resources than they ever knew existed, and knowing how to access them saves a lot of time. Students will also learn how to properly give credit to their sources, thus preventing plagiarism.
Fun Class, Focused Attention
English composition classes can be fun. In big universities, these are sometimes the smallest classes available to underclassmen and are often limited to 15 to 20 students. This allows you to get to know your peers as well as your professor. You're likely to make friends and to get focused attention and feedback. Sometimes, required composition classes are themed-based, so you can take a class that allows you to write through the lens of a subject you're particularly interested in; some universities even offer classes about TV shows or celebrities.
Paige Johansen has been writing professionally since 2003. She holds a B.A. in psychology and English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from The University of Virginia. Between degrees, she worked in the fashion industry for two years.