As students develop as academic writers, they may find it useful to intentionally work on their writing. They may do so in a variety of ways:

  1. Students may seek support from the Writing Center. Here, they may consult with a staff of professional writing and speaking associates at any stage of the writing process for any course in which they are enrolled.
  2. Students may enroll in a writing attentive course. The writing attentive course tag that indicates that one of the stated objectives of the course is the improvement of students' critical writing.
  3. Students may opt to take an Intensive Writing course. In such courses, writing is the main topic and almost all course objectives relate to improving students' critical writing. They provide opportunities to practice pre-writing, drafting, and revision skills in a supportive environment over the course of a full semester.
  4. Students can review the Sites of Writing page to discover additional spaces of writing support and engagement.

Talking to Students About Intensive Writing

While all college writers have more to learn, Intensive Writing courses particularly benefit students who want and need to practice: reading academic prose; understanding the norms of academic genres; drafting analytical or argumentative essays; and developing their voices as academic writers.

Students are recommended for Intensive Writing courses after a placement process coordinated by the Director of Intensive Writing (beginning summer 2023). If a student receives an Intensive Writing recommendation, it is important to talk about it, as students may not know what it means. In brief:

  • Intensive Writing courses are typically 100-level courses intended to support students as they explore academic writing in the early years of their college career.
  • They are not creative writing courses, and students do not need to consider themselves strong writers to take them.
  • An Intensive Writing recommendation is a placement result (akin to a language or math placement) meant to help students select courses--not a warning of any kind.
  • Intensive Writing recommendations do not appear on students' transcripts.
  • Enrolling in an Intensive Writing class signals to future employers and graduate schools that students have spent time honing their communication skills in college.

It can be useful to explain that recommendations are made in a spirit of support, and that students' voices are taken into account in the recommendation process (through the placement survey). Since Amherst has an open curriculum, enrollment in an Intensive Writing course is not a requirement for graduation. However, taking an Intensive Writing course can make all the writing that comes before graduation more manageable. You should feel free to encourage students to talk to the Director of Intensive Writing about the program, their recommendation, or any courses offerings.

Helping Students Enroll in Intensive Writing

Most Intensive Writing courses are by permission only, so students will need to request permission to enroll when they register for classes. Intensive Writing classes are usually capped at 12-15 students, and priority is given to students who have been recommended for Intensive Writing. Other students are also welcome to request permission as well, and they will be accommodated as space allows.