Students who love to write aren’t intimidated by the endless writing assignments in college. If you’re one of those people, you look for any and all outlets to spread your voice. You don’t think of writing as a tedious task; it’s just pure fun. Looking for college classes that let you spread your writing wings? Chances are your school offers a lot! Besides general writing and English courses, most colleges and universities offer humanities classes that allow you to focus on specific skills that writers will find helpful. For those with a passion for putting pen to paper, get ready to take notes and pay attention the next time you register for classes because these five courses are worth searching for.
1. Modern literature
Writers need to understand the past because it puts the present into perspective and shows us how to create stories from real experiences. Dating back to the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, modern literature allows us to reflect on past societies with a present lens. Authors from this period defied traditional laws of prose and poetry by experimenting with style, embracing diverse perspectives, and writing abstractly with a stream-of-conscious mentality. They wrote how they thought, which was not necessarily neat and straightforward. In this course, you’ll be challenged to analyze literature in a way that you never have before and learn how to make sense of what doesn’t make sense from a surface reading.
What to expect from a modern literature course
The homework in this class will be simple: Read the book, poem, or short story and assign meaning to it. Beyond writing analyses and essays on what you’ve read, you should also be prepared to present your thoughts to the class, either in an informal seminar discussion or a more polished presentation. It’s not unlikely for your professor to give you a two-page short story to read for homework, with the next class session dedicated entirely to discussing it. Oftentimes, the best literature is concise yet packed with significance. And when it comes to analyzing literature, there’s no right answer; you can make endless connections between the world in the story and the one outside your window.
Writing reflects the depth of thought and one’s ability to see many perspectives; that’s psychology in a nutshell. This field is concerned with the intricacies of the human mind, behavior, and interpersonal relationships, all of which are shaped by social and cultural factors. As a writer, it’s important to understand these so you can resonate with your intended audience. A psychology course will show you how the mind and behavior are a direct result of societal influences. You'll see how an individual is positively or negatively affected by society and what role they play in it.
What to expect from a psychology course
Creative writers in particular will benefit from taking this course. If you write fiction, for instance, psychology can help you create believable, realistic characters that readers can relate to. Psychologists study how people grow and change, which is what your protagonist should do by the end of your story. The more you get into the head of your characters—considering their motives, relationships, fears, and dreams—the more your readers will be invested in their journey. You’ll be able to write powerful stories that resonate with the hearts and minds of all kinds of people.
Rhetoric is the art of effectively conveying a message through written and spoken language. In this course, you’ll analyze the effect that a variety of messages—such as speeches, websites, and tweets—have on an audience. In other words, you’ll learn how to write with the reader in mind. Studying the many ways texts can be interpreted teaches writers how to engage readers by informing them on a topic, persuading them to consider a certain perspective, or motivating them to take action. Whether you need to write an argumentative essay or a good story, taking a rhetoric class will challenge you to think critically about your writing choices and evaluate not just what you say but how you say it.
What to expect from a rhetoric course
Any writer would enjoy a rhetoric class because it teaches you how to organize your thoughts logically and coherently in a way that gets the point across. Expect to give some presentations in this course as well, since speaking is just as important as being able to communicate in writing. Understanding rhetoric can also strengthen your creativity as a writer. You’ll start to ask yourself, “How can I hook the reader and keep them intrigued long enough to hear what I have to say? What images and emotions can I strike in their imaginations to make them look at an issue from my perspective?” Answering these questions will help you channel your intuition as a writer.
4. Creative writing
Creative writing is the product of your imagination displayed on a page. With flexibility in world-building, characterization, and plot, there’s unlimited room for self-expression. While there are some guidelines in this class, you usually have free rein to envision reality however you’d like. Creative writing lets you find what’s extraordinary about the ordinary. Increasing your observation of the world and turning mundane, everyday things into a fascinating masterpiece of creative realism is what it’s all about.
What to expect from a creative writing course
Most colleges offer beginning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting courses, just to name a few examples of creative writing options. Some classes are in workshop format, a seminar-style discussion where students have a safe space to share their work and grow as writers. Class periods are often dedicated to discussing students’ work and offering verbal feedback on the spot. The homework is heavy on reading both your peers’ work and well-known authors. Come prepared to share your thoughts on how well an author implemented craft techniques as well as what they could improve on. One of the most important benefits of creative writing classes is that they teach you how to receive and give critiques. If you aspire to be a writer beyond college, one of the first writing communities you will form is in this type of class. This community is a learning space, so be sure to engage and embrace it. It’s the only way to discover your strengths and weaknesses to grow as a writer.
Journalism is about writing for the times—a valuable skill for any writer. It’s a form of storytelling similar to creative writing but not quite as embellished; it requires creativity, but accuracy is equally important. Journalists know how to craft relevant, truthful, and compelling stories that appeal to different audiences. In a journalism class, you’ll learn to assess the quality and credibility of sources so the key message can fully shine through. You’ll also whet your curiosity as a writer by exploring a variety of subjects to craft interesting stories about real events, people, and issues of public importance.
What to expect from a journalism course
In an introductory journalism course, you’ll master the fundamentals of writing, communication, interviewing, reporting, social media, ethics, and more. For homework, you might have to do some immersive fieldwork to answer a research question—searching public records, traveling to investigate an issue firsthand, and conducting live interviews, for example. Once you have your answers, that’s when you can sit down to craft the story that everyone is dying to hear.
These are just a few of the many unique writing classes you can take in college. If you love to write, take advantage of your options, all the way from more academic writing to creative writing. You may never get the chance to write deeply about such a diverse set of disciplines again. Learn as much as you can and be open to new ideas. Then write them down. Whatever you do, keep calm and keep writing.
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