College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Humanities and Communication

Success in your first-year writing course

How to pick the best course for you through Directed Self-Placement

The writing and math courses you take as first-year college students are the foundation of your success in college. Every class you take will require critical reading skills, writing skills, and the ability to reason with quantitative information. For that reason, it is important that you take the right first-year classes.

The decision about your first-year math and writing course should be made through careful reflection on your own experiences, not just your previous grades, so at CSUMB, we ask you to choose for yourself which first-year reading/writing and first-year quantitative reasoning course you take (that’s the self-placement part). But it’s also important you don’t make a quick or uninformed decision. So we’ve created online experiences to help (that’s the directed part).

For writing, you need to decide whether you want to take one semester or two to build the critical reading and writing skills you will need for more advanced college work. In Write to Register you’ll: Engage in activities to give you a sense of the kind of work you’ll do in first-year composition courses. You will read an article, summarize the article, compare your summary to one written by a college professor. Answer some survey questions about your experience doing those activities, your thoughts about the kind of reading and writing support you need, and your past history of reading and writing in and out of school. The one-semester options are HCOM 120, ENSTU 120, or SBS 110. Those three courses are similar in their degree of challenge and support. They differ somewhat in the topics on which they focus and approaches, with ENSTU 120 focusing on environmental topics and SBS 110 focusing on social science topics. The two-semester option is CAD 101A/B (101A the first semester, 101B the second). This pair of courses is treated as a single, year-long course in which you remain with the same instructor and same group of students for both semesters. It is designed for students who want or need longer to work on their critical reading and writing skills to prepare for upper-division work.

Your responses to the survey questions will lead to a recommendation about whether you are likely to feel appropriately challenged and supported in a one- or two-semester first-year composition (A2) class.

You will then read a description of your options and make your own choice.

This experience should take about 1 hour.

Students who do not complete the online experiences will be placed into first-year composition courses according to the CSU’s multiple measures, which are based on past performance.

College is all about taking responsibility for your own learning and success, and we want you to begin with that intention. Directed self-placement is an early opportunity to do so.

For information on how to select your first-year math or statistics course.