Course Placement

The First-Year Writing Program conducts a version of what is called “guided self-placement.” “Self-placement” means that you decide which course or courses you need to take. “Guided” means the Writing Program Directors, your advisors, and your instructors are here to help you make your decision.

Here’s how it works:

Before Classes Begin

  1. Familiarize yourself with the three courses we offer.
  2. Using the self-assessment guidelines below, assess your level of confidence, experience, and skill with writing.
  3. Share your questions or concerns with your advisor.
  4. Register for the course you think will be best for you in the fall.
  5. Write a 3-4 page (typed, double-spaced) essay in which you describe your prior experiences with writing and reading and explain how these experiences led to your current level of confidence and skill in writing. Do your best to craft a coherent, detailed, well-organized, polished essay.
  6. Bring your essay to the first meeting of your writing class. These essays are the first required writing assignment in the First-Year Writing Program. You cannot pass your first-year writing course if you do not hand in this first essay

First Week of Classes

  1. After your instructor explains what the course will entail, you should share any concerns or questions you have with her/him.
  2. Your instructor will read your essay and consult with the Writing Program Directors about possible recommendations for changes in course selection.
  3. If you receive a recommendation to a change in course selection, consider it carefully. Our instructors are good readers of student writing and know our curriculum well. If you wish to change your course selection, do so through the course registration system, go see your advisor, or visit the English Department office.

Self Assessment

Choosing the course that is right for you begins with honest self-assessment. Here are some principles to keep in mind:

  1. You want to be in the course that best suits your needs and that gives you the best opportunity to learn and to be successful.
  2. Choosing a course that is below your level will leave you feeling unchallenged and probably uninspired. Choosing a course for which you are not well prepared will only set you up for a frustrating experience—and quite likely a low grade.
  3. Remember that you must earn a C or better in required writing courses in order to fulfill NU’s graduation requirement.
  4. Finally, writing is a foundational skill that you will use throughout your academic career and beyond; you want to choose the course or courses that will best help you build a solid foundation.

Consider the following statements:

  • I feel my experiences in and out of school prior to coming to Northeastern prepared me well to succeed as a college writer.
  • I am usually successful as a writer. I have strategies for overcoming writing challenges and I am able to accomplish complex writing tasks.
  • I am usually able to express my ideas fluently and effectively in English.
  • As a reader and a writer, I am comfortable and confident working with long, complex texts.
  •  I am comfortable and confident working with a range of sources and ideas in my writing.
  • I feel ready to work at a quick pace in a writing course with challenging reading and writing tasks.

If these statements apply to you, choose ENGW 1111. If one or more of these statements does not apply to you, you may wish to take the two-course first-year writing sequence, starting with ENGW 1110. If you are not a native speaker of English but feel that you would benefit from a challenging course with some attention to second-language issues, you may opt for ENGW 1102.

Why might a multilingual student choose ENGW1102 instead of ENGW1111?

ENGW 1102:

  • Offers more one-on-one attention because of smaller class size (15 students in 1102 vs 19 students in 1111)
  • Offers a community in which multilingual students often feel more comfortable participating in class
  • Offers pacing designed to meet the needs of multilingual writers
  • Often includes cultural introductions through pop-culture, humor, and contemporary events
  • Often provides closer attention to specific language use and vocabulary