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First-Year Composition and Rhetoric: Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing a Writing Course

What is the Choose a Writing Course Survey?

The Choose a Writing Course Survey is a series of questions that help you choose whether you want to take English 102/103 or English 104 at HSU. Based on your responses, the survey makes a recommendation about which course to take, but the decision is ultimately up to you. Completing the survey is a prerequisite (a requirement) for taking English 102/103 or 104.

How do I complete the Choose a Writing Course Survey?

The survey is part of the Canvas Registration Tutorial for new students to HSU.  You will read about the Composition and Rhetoric Program, which includes our course offerings and how we view academic reading and writing.  You will then complete the Choose a Writing Course Survey.
The survey will take about 30 minutes of your time. Once you complete the survey, a recommendation for which first-year writing course might best meets your needs will be shared with you—and sent to you via email. You can then print out this information and take it with you when you meet with your academic advisor (when you will sign up for classes).

How should the CSU's English Placement Categories factor into my decision about taking English 102/103 or English 104? 

See the CSU English Placment Category Grid for the CSU’s recommendation for which writing course to take based on your English placement category.

What if I think I'm exempt from first-year English?

Only a small number of students will be exempt from taking the Choose a Writing Course survey. The following students may be exempt:
  • Students who earned of score of 3 or above on either the Language and Composition or Composition and Literature examination of the College Board Scholastic Advanced Placement Program (AP exam).
  • Students who took a college-level English course (this does not include high school AP English) and earned a C- or better in a course equivalent to HSU ENGL 104.

What if I disagree with the results I get from the Choose a Writing Course Survey?

The choice is ultimately yours, no matter what the Choose a Writing Course Survey recommends. While you do not have to enroll in the writing course recommended to you based on your survey results, the survey questions are carefully designed to help students choose the writing course that will be the best fit for them.

English 102/103 and English 104

What do we teach in Composition and Rhetoric Courses at HSU?

We are often led to believe that writing is about avoiding errors, providing the right answer, or having a natural talent that some people have and some people don’t. Our first-year writing courses push back on those assumptions, and asks students to consider: How is identity linked to reading, writing, and power? How can we use inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration to write about and understand how meaning is made in the world?

As a student in English 102, 103 or 104, you will explore these questions as a community and in collaboration with your classmates. You will study the subject and practice of writing, build confidence as a writer, and understand that writing requires lifelong practice.

What is English 102/103?

English 102 and 103--also known as “Stretch” English --provide a two-semester sequence of coursework that fulfill Area A, the Written Communication Requirement. English 102/103 is the regularly-paced option for completing this requirement.

English 102 and 103 will support your development of writing knowledge in and beyond the HSU experience. These courses emphasize rhetorical knowledge, writing in and across multiple genres, and critical thinking. You will study and compose in several genres and will study and develop how writing practices can be shaped to meet particular rhetorical situations. Stretch English allows students to work with one instructor and the same student cohort for the full year, which helps to build a writing community and can sustain your development beyond the course.

What is English 104?

English 104 is the one-semester accelerated option for completing Area A, the Written Communication Requirement. The content and curriculum are the same as in English 102/103, but it’s just one semester, so the pace is much faste

English 104 is designed to support your development of writing knowledge in and beyond the HSU experience. This course emphasizes rhetorical knowledge, writing in and across multiple genres, and critical thinking. You will study and compose in several genres and will study and develop how writing practices can be shaped to meet particular rhetorical situations.

What are the benefits of Stretch English (English 102/103)?

Many colleges and universities require all their students to take two semesters of first-year composition, so you shouldn't feel that taking two semesters will put you behind in some way. In the end, the correct choice is the one that will best meet your needs and the learning environment you find most comfortable.

Class size is also smaller in English 102/103, which means more personalized instruction. Because the material in English 102/103 is stretched across two semesters, the course pace allows for more time to process and practice new and complex material. Stretch English allows students to work with one instructor and the same student cohort for the full year, which helps to build a writing community and can sustain your development beyond the course.

What is the Assessment Portfolio?

At the end of English 104 and the English 102/103 sequence, students create a portfolio, which is a collection of some of the work you produced in the course. The portfolio serves as a “snapshot” of where you are as a writer in a particular moment, and because all writers have more to learn, this assessment is one that can inform your next steps in your writing development.

The portfolio has several purposes:

  • To provide you with a process that allows you to select and present writing that demonstrates your learning of and reflection on the course outcomes
  • To provide readers with evidence of your writing development and flexibility across a range of texts;
  • To allow readers to assess how you have applied and reflected on course outcomes;
  • To create a timestamp of your writing knowledge at this point in your writing development.
 

English 110

What is English 110?

English 110 is:

  • A 1-unit baccalaureate-credit course;
  • Graded through Credit/No Credit mode instead of a letter grade;
  • Designed to supplement your work in your other English course(s);
  • Has no outside homework.

This optional course offers individualized and small-group support and instruction for students currently enrolled in English 102/103 or English 104. This course provides extra time and support for developing your writing knowledge and practices. In English 110, you will explore writing concepts through readings, activities, and written reflections--all of which will take place during class time. There is no outside homework for this class. You will be able to conference with your instructor about the writing you’re doing in English 102/103 or 104 and engage in various feedback activities to support your writing development. If you feel like you need more support or practice as a writer, this course is for you. 

Who should take English 110?

Students who place into Category III (GE Ready with Support) are recommended to take English 110. Students who place into Category IV (GE Ready with Support and Required Early Start) are strongly recommended to take English 110. See the CSU English Placement Category Grid to find out your placement category. Any student has the option of enrolling in English 110 while they’re currently taking English 102/103, or 104.

How does English 110 help students succeed in their Written Communication GE course?

English 110 focuses on individualized and small-group support and instruction for students currently enrolled in English 102/103, or 104. This course provides extra time and support for developing your writing knowledge and practices. You will be able to conference with your instructor about the writing you’re doing in English 102/103 or 104 and engage in various feedback activities to support your writing development in your Written Communication GE course. 

Will taking English 110 overload my schedule?

English 110 is designed to help you succeed, not overload you! English 110 can support your writing success. 

Early Start English

What is Early Start English?

At HSU, Early Start English is a one-unit baccalaureate credit online course where students explore concepts about writing development and how writing works. In the course, students will design a writing portfolio that includes a letter of introduction to their first-year composition instructor. The course is four weeks long, but you can move at your own pace and complete the coursework more quickly.

Who should take Early Start?

Students who place into English Category III (GE Ready with Support) are recommended to take Early Start. Students who are placed into English Category IV (GE Ready with Support and Required Early Start) are required to take Early Start English. At HSU, any student who is placed in Category IV (GE Ready with Support and Required Early Start) for both Math and English will only take Early Start Math. 

See the CSU English Placement Category Grid to find out what your English placement category is.

Why should I take Early Start English online at HSU instead of in person at the CSU closest to my hometown?

The Early Start English curriculum offered online through HSU helps you to prepare for first-year writing coursework at HSU. One of HSU’s Early Start English course goals is to provide the support for first-year writing success at HSU. HSU’s Early Start Course offers 1 unit of baccalaureate credit towards your degree, which may not be the case at other CSUs.

I don't see my question here.

Please contact the First-year Composition and Rhetoric Program Director, Lisa Tremain.

 

Other Questions

 

You should consider your command of grammar conventions as one of many factors in your decision-making process. In all English composition courses, the focus on grammar involves its relationship to the ideas you are trying to express, the ways you are thinking, and the decisions you make as a writer. We think it is important to remember that grammar is simply one aspect of successful writing. Many people are very good sentence writers but still need more practice and instruction regarding planning, organizing, developing ideas, reading critically, researching, and revising. Instead of focusing on one issue like grammar to make your decision about which course to take, we encourage you to consult the questions and resources in the Choose a Writing Course Survey.
Not necessarily. The best way to make an informed decision about which course to choose is to consult the recommendations from the survey. While your experiences in AP, IB, or Honors English will likely help you, many students find college writing much different from the writing required in high-school English classes. We recommend that you consider those English classes as one factor to weigh in your decision—not as the sole or even the primary basis for your decision.
Yes.  You will work with the same instructor and the same class colleagues in English 102 and English 103, because this is a two-semester sequence of one course. Indeed, one of the benefits of the English 102+103 sequence is that you make important connections and form a learning cohort with instructors and students for an entire year.
The English 102+103 option provides college-level credit and fulfills the Area A Written Communication GE requirement. Selecting this stretch option does not delay your graduation.  In the long term, taking the course(s) most appropriate to your skills and confidence improves the likelihood of college success and thereby increases—not decreases—the possibility of timely graduation.
An excellent option for supporting your success in your English class is to add the one-unit Writing Lab course of English 110.
 
There is also daily writing support for all students through the fantastic HSU Writing Studio.
 
Any student enrolled in English 103 or English 104 can elect to take English 215, which meets twice weekly in a computer lab. Students in English 215 will participate in a hands-on learning experience with writing instruction and one-on-one assistance with the research and writing process. English 215 provides you with support for research-based writing assignments from any HSU course, including English 103 or English 104.