When I started applying to colleges, I knew I wanted to study English (I was the kind of person who read Dickens for fun, after all). But, aside from reading a few books, I did not know what to expect from my classes. I know other students probably feel the same way, so I wanted to write a short guide to some of my favorite courses, while also encouraging people to look into English and writing classes.
While there were plenty of classes I could have included, I chose to focus more on traditional classes with reading and writing at the core. I also wanted to focus on memorable classes — ones that I remember fondly when I think about them.
- Self and Community
Self and Community is an intro class required for all incoming students. It’s taught by multiple professors, each with their own way of instructing the class. My professor was Joey Shepherd, Olivet’s academic accommodations coordinator. He used essays, videos and class discussions to show us how discrimination and privilege shape the world.
I could write paragraphs about what I learned, who I met and what we did in this class, but one assignment especially stood out. We were assigned a social issue paper and presentation. Joey told us that any presentation would be fine, but he would give extra points for creativity. He began to list off examples and mentioned a game show as a possibility. I had given plenty of presentations in school, but they were always speeches and PowerPoints. The idea of using a game show to present appealed to my sense of drama. I got to wear my best outfit and loudly announce statistics to my classmates as they answered. It was the most fun presentation I have ever given, and it taught me how different college could be from high school.
- Creative Non-Fiction Writing
This class was my first writing class at Olivet College, and it gave me so much. I met Professor Meredith Dodson, who has become one of my favorite professors, and I met many great classmates through my critique groups. I also got the chance to experiment with writing. In high school, I was taught one way to write essays, and I barely ever got to write short stories. Creative Non-Fiction let me experiment with writing interesting essays and nonlinear storylines. Instead of traditional essay writing, it focuses on teaching students how to tell stories in a unique way. It was also my first time dealing with portfolios, a staple of the English and writing programs, and learning about them early on was very helpful.
- Poetry I
Poetry classes are common in English and writing programs, but my poetry class was unique. The class was taught by Professor Erin Pavloski, a science professor, which made it interesting and special. The material was presented in an understandable way, and rather than teach us a specific writing process that only works for some people, she focused on helping us build our own style and process. We wrote about three to four poems a week, and these assignments were often flexible, meaning you could write about whatever you wanted and still fit the requirements. I improved my poetry writing skills, and my confidence in my work grew. The readings and presentations introduced me to other poets and hearing my classmate’s poems was eye-opening.
If you are unsure of what to take for your Creative Experience requirement (part of the Liberal Arts core curriculum), you should consider taking Poetry I.
- Theories of Form: Early British Literature
Often abbreviated as “Brit Lit I,” this class was my first English class at Olivet, and in many ways, it felt like my first real college class. While my other professors had us introducing ourselves, Professor Kirk Hendershott-Kraetzer jumped right into analyzing the work. He urged us to expand our ideas of what “British literature” was and encouraged us to draw our own conclusions about what we read. He even helped me submit my work to a conference on Medieval and Shakespearean Literature, where I got to meet and hear the ideas of other students.
- English and Writing Seminar
Every major has its own seminar class which students are required to take each semester — for me, that’s the English and writing seminar. These seminars offer mentoring, scheduling advice and professional development specific to your major and field. For instance, my seminar studies books. Insurance majors get to network within their industry, science majors discuss current research and all seminars often welcome guest speakers from their fields. Each seminar is completely different and tailored to the specific interests of students in that program.
Seminar is genuinely my favorite class, and it is a class that fully represents my experience at Olivet. The professors are engaging, the material is helpful, and I have made so many friends through this class. Some of my most memorable moments at college have been talking in this class with my fellow English majors. And since seminar is required for all four years, I will continue to have these great experiences!
All these classes, whether English or part of the Liberal Arts, have encouraged me to leap out of my comfort zone. And, all of them have helped me learn something about my future career or my own skillset. These are just the top five! Other courses, such as my practicums (a course that functions like a job), have also given me experience I would not have gotten outside of them. Olivet offers a wide variety of experiences for all students and you never know what you will love until you try it.
For more information about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This feature was written by rising junior Bray Wright, marketing and communications student intern. She is an English major and writing minor, a scholarship winner of the Global Citizen Honors Program and a staff member of the Garfield Lake Review. A self-proclaimed storyteller, she plans on going into the publishing industry after college.