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When I first arrived at Yeshiva University, I was told that the new liberal arts ‘core’ system required me to take a First Year Writing class. Coming from Bar Ilan University, where I had taken a class an English Literature for two semesters, I was none too pleased. I thought there was no point in taking another English class when I had already excelled at writing throughout high school and my year in Israel. I really wanted to take a class like calculus or statistics that would bring me a step closer to fulfilling my Biology major. Instead, I was thrust into a small class of students, forced to write time-consuming essays about topics I didn’t care about. What I didn’t realize, at the time, was the true purpose of First Year Writing. Not only did the class help my already strong composition skills, it helped me transition into Yeshiva University and become a part of the university community. I soon realized that First Year Writing isn’t even close to the throwaway class I once thought it was. In fact, First Year Writing is definitely my most important class at YU and has also become my personal favorite.
First and foremost, First Year Writing is exactly what its name implies: a writing class. In it, students learn to write with greater skill by increasing their vocabulary and fixing common grammar errors. I myself have seen my composition skill increase greatly. Editing, an area that has never been a strong suit of mine, is also taught in First Year Writing. Peer-editing is a valuable exercise in which students exchange drafts with their peers and edit them for each other. This process helped me greatly during the semester as my peers were able to point out flaws and faults in my essay that I would never have seen myself. This, i...

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...t response to my concern coming into college, First Year Writing helps increase responsibility and independence in students. By giving them time and space to develop their writing skills students are “empowered as agents responsible for their own learning” (Gere, 2). Meaning, as students write essays and edit theirs and their peers’ work, their sense of responsibility improves because, instead of being spoon fed information and new skills like most lecture classes, students are able to develop their own aptitude for writing. This newfound sense of responsibility carries over to other classes as well, teaching students to be accountable for their own learning. For instance, if a student misses a chemistry lecture and needs to catch up on the material, First Year Writing grants him the confidence and technique to learn the information and skills he missed when absent.