Guided Self-Placement

Welcome to First-Year Writing!

This page is for students who have registered in a first-year writing class

First-Year Writing is a process-based and workshop-oriented course that gives you the opportunity to learn about writing and rhetoric. Many students assume that this course will be similar to their high school literature or AP English courses. However, it is quite different. While you will expand on some of the skills learned in those courses, you’ll also be learning rhetorical flexibility (how to write for different audiences in different situations) by writing in a variety of genres and media.

To ensure that you’ve placed yourself into an appropriate section, check to see if you’ve registered for ENGW 1111, ENGW 1102, or a course with a service-learning component and read about each of those options below. Then, complete a brief writing assignment for your instructor in preparation for the first day of class.

This is a process of guided self-placement. Self-placement means that you have agency over which course or courses you want to take. Guided means the Writing Program directors, your advisors, and your instructors are here to help you make that decision.

Contact your academic advisor if you are concerned about your course placement at any point in the guided self-placement process (before, during or after completing the writing assignment).



Most students will place themselves into one of these courses: 

ENGW 1111 First-Year Writing
Offers students the opportunity to study and practice writing in a workshop setting. Students read a range of texts in order to describe and evaluate the choices writers make and apply that knowledge to their own writing; learn to conduct research using primary and secondary sources; explore how writing functions in a range of academic, professional, and public contexts; and write for various purposes and audiences in multiple genres and media. Throughout the course, students give and receive feedback, revise their work, and reflect on their growth as writers.
ENGW 1111 S-L First-Year Writing Service-Learning
Parallels ENGW 1111 but also offers service-learning opportunities, such as community volunteering, community activism, and so on which will complement course outcomes.

Why might a student choose a service learning version of ENGW 1111? ENGW 1111-SL:

  • Offers opportunities to explore and engage with the local community
  • Provides hands-on experience to complement and provide reasons for your practice of writing.
  • Places you in a class with other students who are interested in volunteering, activism, and/or community engagement.

Learn more about Northeastern Service Learning Courses here.

ENGW 1102 First-Year Writing for Multilingual Writers
Parallels ENGW 1111 but with special attention to the concerns of multilingual writers. It is designed for students whose first or strongest language is not English.

Why might a multilingual student choose ENGW 1102 instead of ENGW 1111? 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 to pop-culture, humor, and contemporary events
  • Often provides closer attention to specific language use and vocabulary

Students may also earn credit in one of these ways:

Transfer Credit
Read more about the Writing Program’s policy on transfer credit.
ENGW 1111 Honors
Note: All course placement into ENGW 1111 Honors is done by the Honors Program and advisors.
The university offers a limited number of honors sections. Students are placed into honors sections by their advisors. Learning goals are the same as ENGW 1111, but students may tackle more complex readings on composition and rhetoric.
ENGW 1110 + ENGW 1111
Note: All course placement into ENGW 1110 is done through General Studies.
Designed for students who would benefit from an extra semester of writing instruction before taking ENGW 1111. Offers students the opportunity to study and practice writing in a workshop setting. Introduces students to college-level writing, reading, and research. Throughout the course, students give and receive feedback, revise their work, and reflect on their growth as writers.
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Writing Assignment (Guided Self-Placement Letter)

Write a 2-3 page letter (typed, double-spaced, stapled) to your instructor where you introduce your writing history and your expectations for the course. Please look up your instructor’s name so that you can address your recipient directly.

Consider the following:

  • What experiences have made you feel successful as a writer?
  • What experiences have made you lose confidence as a writer?
  • After looking at the student learning goals and course descriptions, what do you think the course you enrolled in will entail? If you selected a service-learning course or ENGW 1102, why did you choose this course?
  • What are you the most excited about and what are you the most uncertain about with this course?
  • Is there anything else you’d like your instructor to know?

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Next Steps

Bring your letter to the first day of class. This writing assignment is ungraded but required in order to pass the class.

If you believe that your current course placement is not a good fit for you, contact your advisor as soon as possible.