Rhetoric and Composition
Department Chair:
Laurie McMillin

Phone: (440) 775-6601
Fax: (440) 775-8619

Rice 116
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Choosing an Oberlin Writing Course

Choosing an Oberlin Writing Course

At Oberlin College four departments or programs offer writing courses. Here are some questions to consider to find the right course for your needs.

1. If you are a non-native speaker of English and have taken the TOEFL exam, what was your score?

  • If it was below 250 (on the computer-based TOEFL), you should contact the Dean of Studies Office (x58540 - Peters 205) and seek advice about taking a course for speakers of English as a Second Language (ESL). 

2. What has been your previous writing experience?

  • If you are a first- or second-year student and you would like to develop confidence and experience in writing and work on nonfiction prose in a course with a variety of readings, you should take a Department of Rhetoric and Composition colloquium RHET 101-105, 108). ESL students in the College of Arts and Sciences will also benefit from RHET courses.
  • If you would like to read and write about a variety of topics, you should take a First-Year Seminar, most of which are writing intensive (W-Int) and provide some consultation on writing.
  • If you would like exposure to techniques in poetry or fiction writing, the two introductory Creative Writing courses (CRWR 110 and 120) are appropriate to take. Students in these courses may or may not have had much creative writing experience; anyone may enroll but most of the seats are reserved for first- and second-year students. Admission to all other Creative Writing classes is based on an application process that includes submitting a writing sample. Sophomores who have a strong interest in writing in literary genres may apply for CRWR 201, which is a prerequisite for most higher level Creative Writing workshops. The course is not open to seniors or to first-year students in their first semester, but some first-year students may be admitted during their second semester. Application forms are available outside the Creative Writing Program Office (Rice 13) in late fall and late spring; the deadlines are usually in June for the fall semester and in January for the spring.

3. What kinds of writing are done in the various writing courses?

  • In the English as a Second Language courses (ESOL 110, 120, and 130) students write brief assignments in English as a means of practicing English skills. Students work more on speaking skills than writing in ESOL 110. ESL students in the Conservatory are often well-served by these courses.
  • In the Rhetoric & Composition 100- and 200-level courses students write and revise prose essays, ranging from short (1-3 pages) to long (10 or more pages), on a variety of topics, often based on course readings. Both personal observation and analysis of reading are emphasized in their assignments. In English courses students write about literature primarily.
  • The Creative Writing Program's two large courses, Technique and Form in Poetry (CRWR 110) and Technique and Form in Fiction (CRWR 120), are literature courses designed for students who wish to read as writers. Some opportunity to try out the techniques illustrated in the course is provided, but the courses are intended primarily to expose students to technical aspects of poetry and fiction in a historical perspective. Creative Writing 201 and above are consent courses for students who have an interest in producing literature, with admission based on an application with writing samples submitted before the semester begins.

4. What kinds of reading would you like to do in a writing course?

  • In the English as a Second Language series (ESOL 110, 120, 130) students read brief selections that help them build their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar. In Rhetoric and Composition courses students generally read nonfiction and academic prose essays on a variety of topics written in a range of disciplinary styles. The readings used in English and Creative Writing courses are usually more literary and specifically introduce students to the traditions of poetry, fiction (short stories and novels), and drama.

5. Where can I find out more about writing courses and which course might be best for me?

Contact these offices:

  • Creative Writing Program || The Yellow House, 153 W. Lorain Street || 775-6567
  • English Department || Rice 130 || 775-8570
  • Rhetoric & Composition Department ||King 139 || 775-8907
  • ESL-Office of the Dean of Studies || Peters 205 || 775-8464