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Anonymous Hall at Dartmouth College

Background: Writing Course/Seminar Course

Every first-year student at Dartmouth is required to take a writing course followed by a seminar course. And while there are a plethora of courses to choose from (I'm currently taking Writing 5: "Creativity, Originality, and Ownership of Ideas"), the framework of each course is generally collaborative and discussion-based.

My Experience: 

As I said, my current writing course is called "Creativity, Originality, and Ownership of Ideas" and I'm really enjoying it! Right now, as a class, we're reading about copyright and intellectual property through different creative mediums, and what it truly means to "own" an idea. We've discussed the origins of copyright, the motives behind state-licensed intellectual property, and what it means for a society to be encouraged to create. 

For the class structure, my classmates and I meet with our professor twice a week, and usually, we have some form of an assigned reading or writing activity to complete outside of class prior to attending class—most of our in-person class time is spent talking about readings we've done or discussing deep questions our professor has for us. 

Within the class assignments, there's a lot of embedded collaboration, which I'm a big proponent of. For instance, almost all of our large essay-type assignments go through rounds and rounds of peer review as well as a one-on-one conference-style meeting with our professor. Unlike my experience with Dartmouth's writing department, most of the writing classes I've been a part of over the course of my student career haven't truly emphasized the process behind becoming a more coherent and competent writer, so It feels good to be a part of a learning environment that's genuinely hand-crafting and refining my writing skills.

Adding to the sense of collaboration, typically the first-year writing courses at Dartmouth are fairly small. My class has 15 total students, including myself, which is virtually unheard of in a basic entry-level type college course. On top of the size of the course, classes are extremely organized and personalized—I'm constantly looking forward to attending class because of the evolving discussions and planning outlines specific to my goals and questions as a student.

I'm learning a lot about what it means to be an accurate writer, but I'm also learning the importance of open discussion and communication as a means of creating. As I mentioned before, much of our in-class time is simply spent discussing ideas and questions to evolve the way we construct arguments or narratives as writers. Adjusting to the sheer amount of open communication and collaboration within the class has been a bit of a learning curve, but I'm slowly starting to appreciate it a lot (and express it) through my writing.

I'm still in the early stages of my writing course experience, so I'm sure there are more things I'm going to discover, but as of right now, I'm very content with the way things are going. I'm even getting ahead of myself at times searching for my next required writing course (the first-year seminar).

All in all, my experience with Dartmouth's first-year writing requirement has been phenomenal thus far. I'm learning so much about what it means to accurately convey a thought through my writing with empathy, and my classroom experience has sparked an earnest, comforting sense of intellectual curiosity; It's encouraging to be surrounded by peers and professors who genuinely care about sparking thought-provoking dialogue. A recurring theme of Dartmouth, something that I've experienced with multiple courses on top of this term's writing course, is having absolutely no idea what you're getting yourself into and ending up extremely satisfied!

Your friend, 


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