During the summer before you arrive, you will have the opportunity to tell us your preferences for your First-Year Writing course and for First-Year Seminars. You will tell us about your preferences by completing the pre-registration form via the Entering Student Checklist.


First-Year Writing Courses

The starting point for writing at Wellesley is the First-Year Writing Requirement. All students are required to fulfill the First-Year Writing Requirement by taking an introductory course in expository writing in either the fall or spring semester of their first year at Wellesley. Courses fulfilling this requirement, numbered WRIT 101 to WRIT 198, are offered through the Writing Program. These courses are drawn from across the curriculum, from Chemistry to Anthropology to Literature, and are taught by faculty from departments across campus. There are many to choose from, and we feel confident that you will find several interesting.

First-Year Writing courses have the primary goal of helping students establish a useful writing process, from developing ideas through revision.  Each section provides instruction in analysis and interpretation, in argument and the use of evidence, in the development of voice, and in the conventions of academic writing, including writing from sources.

What are the First-Year Writing course options?

There are 3 basic kinds of writing courses:

1. Standard

First-Year Writing courses numbered WRIT 130 and above meet twice a week, fulfill no requirements other than the First-Year Writing Requirement, and generally focus half their time on discussion of the topic of the course and half on writing instruction.  Most students will select from among these courses.

2. Combination

First-Year Writing courses numbered WRIT 105 to WRIT 114 combine writing instruction with full introductory courses in particular disciplines.  We always offer sections that combine Writing with English 120 (WRIT 105), the required introductory course in the English major, and with Art History 100 (WRIT 107), the introduction to the study of Art History. 

3. Extra support

WRIT 121, WRIT 126, and WRIT 127 are intended for students who need additional support as they make the transition from high school to college writing. These classes are smaller than our standard sections, and they are taught by instructors who are experienced in helping students build skills and gain confidence in their writing.  These are not remedial courses, and we expect students to engage intellectually with the material to the same level of sophistication as in other writing courses.


You may request consideration for one of these sections on the pre-registration form.  An extra support section is a good option for you if you fall into one or more of these categories:

  • you did not do much sustained, analytical writing in high school

  • you lack confidence in your writing, or you find writing to be difficult or stressful

  • you speak English as a second or additional language

  • your SAT Writing or Critical Reading score was 600 or below

​The Director of the Writing Program, Jeannine Johnson, would be happy to discuss this placement with you.


Choosing writing courses

We hope to be able to place students in the Writing courses they prefer. We also want to give as many students as possible the opportunity to take their Writing course in the semester they request. We will place students in courses based on the preference questionnaire found on the Entering Student Checklist. 

As you consider your options, remember that there is no single “right” First-Year Writing course for any student. While it can be helpful to choose a course that is in a discipline you plan to study further, you can also use your writing course as a chance to explore topics that you had previously not considered. Keep an open mind. You will be able to rank up to five courses in each semester, and we are confident you will find many of our courses appealing. 

There is also no general advantage to choosing the Fall or Spring semester for writing. We offer similar numbers and types of Writing courses in both semesters, and the semester you choose may depend on the other courses you are planning to take (students trying to fulfill pre-med requirements often choose to wait until spring, for example); your choices about first year seminars; and the relative attractiveness of each semester’s offerings to you. Remember that many seminars and other courses will give you good training in college-level writing, so you can start to build this skill regardless of which semester you take your First-Year Writing Course. We will ask you if you have a preference for one semester over the other when you rank your course selections.


To prepare for completing the questionnaire, we suggest you take the following steps:

  1. Review the course descriptions and think about which Writing courses appeal to you. Think about whether the extra support courses might be a good fit – the form will ask you about that first.

  2. Use the Course Browser to see all our fall courses, their descriptions, and their meeting times. This will give you an idea of other courses you may add to your schedule when you arrive in the fall, and may help you narrow down your list of First-Year Writing Courses. While you are not ready now to build your entire schedule (since you haven't taken placement exams yet or had the chance to talk with an advisor), it is useful to begin thinking about the range of courses you might take. Remember that you will be building your full schedule around your writing course; we think these courses are very important for making a good start, and this is why we want to help you settle those into your schedule first. 

  3. Think about some of the other activities and factors that might affect your choices. For example, if you will be a varsity athlete you may want to arrange your required courses around your anticipated afternoon practice schedule. Or, if you are a night owl, you may want to avoid an 8:30 a.m. class.

  4. Once you have reviewed your options, go to the Entering Student Checklist and complete the online form with your preferences. When you arrive on campus in August you will already be registered for a writing course. 


First-Year Seminars

The First-Year Seminar Program is intended to ease your transition from high school to college by offering you the option of taking a small class (capped at 15) in which you will work closely with a faculty member and other first-year students. The classes are called “seminars” because they are designed to foster active and collaborative learning—the emphasis is on discussions, group projects, field trips, simulations and other experiences rather than lectures and exams. Wellesley students who have taken first-year seminars report that they are a good way to get to know their fellow students and to their professors.

What makes FYS courses so special?

College, as compared to high school, requires you to go beyond rote learning to become a critical and creative thinker.  Because first year seminars are small and first-year only, they offer a comfortable environment in which to develop those college-level skills.  Some seminars are on introductory topics, but in a format quite different from the traditional lecture-oriented introductory class; others give you a chance to explore more advanced topics early in your college career, subjects you might pursue further in upper-division courses.  Some students choose seminars on subjects in which they are planning to major, but many take seminars in topics totally unconnected with their major interest, just to explore something new and fun.

Are you required to take a FYS?

First year seminars are entirely optional.  Take a look at the roster of courses and see if there’s something you might enjoy. Keep in mind that seminars often count towards Wellesley’s distribution requirements and can also count toward majors.  You will get a chance to hear more about our first year seminar offerings when you arrive on campus in August.


Please feel free to contact the Writing and Seminar Program directors if you have questions about registering for these courses.  Colleagues in the Deans’ Office are also available to consult about your questions. 


Professor Jeannine Johnson, Director of the Writing Program

Professor Anjeana Hans, Director of the First-Year Seminar Program

Shanté Brown, Dean of First-Year Students