Distinction in Writing: Overview

Distinction in Writing

The Distinction in Writing program encourages Writing majors to explore opportunities in addition to the regular curriculum. While the major prepares students with the fundamentals a student will need to succeed, we recognize that the most successful students pursue a wide variety of experiences and accomplishments. Often these out of class activities enrich our lives, shape us, help us to be the active, creative, humane people we aspire to be. The Distinction in Writing program recognizes those students who pursue and achieve excellence beyond the classroom.

This program may best be understood as an extended series of independent studies. The guidelines for how a student must complete the program are specific, but a variety of activities and avenues are possible to complete the program. Many suggested activities in one component might fulfill the requirements for another component. So, while the framework is firm, the specifics are quite flexible.

Any Writing major is eligible to participate in the program. There is no official “enrollment” required, but a student should express the intent to pursue the program by submitting a form to a departmental advisor. Ideally, a student begins planning for this program in concert with the student’s advisor in the sophomore year and is able to complete all components in two years. Participation becomes officially recognized only upon completion, which is signaled by the student’s submission of a final portfolio to the advisor. At that time, the student’s GPA must be at least 3.0 in the Writing major.

Student’s Responsibilities
This program is based entirely on the initiative of the student. Participation is encouraged, but not required. Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to seek and complete appropriate activities, retain any required documentation, and keep in regular contact with the student’s advisor. We provide the framework, but the student enacts the program.

Role of the Advisor
When a student expresses interest in the Distinction in Writing program, the advisor should encourage the student by providing guidence towards activities that might best suit that particular student. The student and advisor should be comfortable enough with each other to discuss frankly the student’s strengths and weaknesses in a constructive working relationship. The advisor should act as a mentor, first to help understand the student’s vision, and then to help guide the student toward the realization of that vision.

The student chooses four of five program components to complete. In addition, students must also complete a final portfolio.

* Writing Among Disciplines
* Writing in Off-Campus Communities
* Writing Across Cultures
* Writing for Publication or Performance
* Writing as a Professional

Each component allows students to apply their writing skills and talents to a specific and significant project. In order to receive credit for a component within the program, a student must finish either one (1) Level A activity or two (2) Level B activities.

The activities listed under each component below are offered as suggestions. A student and advisor should not limit themselves to the listings alone, but instead should use the activities as a guide toward tailoring the program and the specific activities to suit that particular student. Many of the activities within the components will likely have a certain degree of overlap with one or more of the other components. The student and advisor should work together to ensure the student completes the program with a broad range of activities represented.

Time Commitment
The total time commitment should be roughly equivalent to two additional courses.
Typically, Level A activities require a semester-long commitment while Level B activities require a briefer—but still substantial—commitment. Two Level B activities should be roughly “equal” to one Level A activity when considering time and the eventual product. The final designation is the responsibility of the advisor.

Those students who complete the program and meet all requirements will be honored at graduation with a notation in the program as well as a departmental Honor Cord. In order to be recognized at graduation, the program must be complete by the time a student’s graduation audit is requested. Additionally, the Writing department will sponsor a luncheon honoring those students and their families, and the students’ names will be added to a plaque in the Writing department.