“What is All This I Hear About Writing 50?”

Annie Wu ’23

When Scripps’ class of 2023 first learned about Core 1, we quickly found out that we were the first class for whom the Writing 50 requirement had been omitted. We heard from older students that Writing 50 had been a separate course alongside Core 1, designed to help first-year students establish a foundation for analytical writing. This year, Core 1 took a different trajectory: a single class would place equal emphasis on reading, writing, and discussion. The hope was that the writing emphasis of Core 1 would compensate for the elimination of a class focused solely on writing skills.

Students who took Writing 50 saw both advantages and disadvantages of the course. Some students who took Writing 50 last year believe it was helpful because it provided practice for analytical and argumentative writing through a series of interesting topics; however, they felt there were other ways to put their writing into practice.

“Core without Writing 50 covered many of the skills we learned in analytical writing. I think more than anything, writing is something that is integrated in a variety of subjects and has been in practice throughout our other courses as well” Sylvie Alexander ’22 said.

Previous students who have taken Writing 50 also invoke another dilemma: “Writing 50 essays and Core essays were often due at about the same time, and I often dedicated more time to the Writing 50 ones,” Esther Adeniji ’22 said.

However, these students agree that an undeniable benefit of Writing 50 was the opportunity to hone skills unique to college-level writing that they otherwise may not have developed in time for classes that would require those skills. 

“I feel like that semester, I became a much better writer,” Adeniji said. “There were many useful opportunities for peer review and paper revisions and it made me more critical of my own writing.”

“Writing 50 also helped me acclimate to the college standard of writing, so I didn’t think there was much to complain about” Natalie Vu ’22 said.

Given these benefits, students and faculty alike agree that Writing 50 could have done with more weighing of its pros and cons before being eliminated as a whole. 

“Given the importance of writing in our students’ college careers, the process of rethinking the Writing Requirement should have included a much more lengthy and thorough discussion,” said Writing Department Chair, Professor Kimberly Drake.

Core professors appreciated the opportunity Writing 50 gave students to focus on their writing but many remain open-minded to the new trajectory of Core 1. 

“Writing 50 gave students the time and resources to establish a foundation for strong communication through writing, which is a skill for everyone and everything,” said Professor Gabriela Morales, Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Morales currently teaches a section of Core 1. In her class’s experience, they often run out of time, simply because of the amount of ground that must be covered through practicing reading, writing, and discussion skills. 

Nevertheless, regardless of whether writing skills are being taught in a distinct class or in combination with Core, Core Mentors and the Writing Center each continue to provide crucial resources in guiding the first-year’s experience with writing.

As a whole, the advantages and disadvantages of Writing 50 continue to be weighed as Core 1 takes a new approach this year. We must ask, is Scripps’ first year curricula serving its central purpose: to ease first-year students into their academic journey at Scripps? The omittance of Writing 50 continues to be an ongoing conversation, but one thing is clear: the discussion around Writing 50 reflects the commitment of both faculty and students alike to ensure a quality experience for Scripps first years.

Image Credit: Lucid Chart