University Writing

May 2019

Dr. Wisor is my favorite prof I've had at Columbia, and maybe my favorite teacher ever. She is so chill, kind, and understanding. She makes such an effort to make the class flow naturally, and we have engaged in so many interesting conversations beyond what we were talking about in class. 10/10 UW experience. Wish she taught more classes!

May 2019

Dr. Wisor is my favorite prof I've had at Columbia, and maybe my favorite teacher ever. She is so chill, kind, and understanding. She makes such an effort to make the class flow naturally, and we have engaged in so many interesting conversations beyond what we were talking about in class. 10/10 UW experience. Wish she taught more classes!

Oct 2018

Simon Porzak was a phenomenal UW instructor and probably the best professor of my three semesters at Columbia thus far. My writing improved immensely, and his sense of humor made coming to class a lot of fun, even in the depths of winter. Beyond his quirky and kind personality, he took his pedagogy very seriously. Despite its status as the most nebulously-defined course in the university (i.e., it's not "about" anything in terms of content - only one of the four papers for my music-themed section had a music-tangential exhibit), Dr. Porzak had the most consistently useful and organized classes of any professor I've taken. For each paper draft, he records a 10-15 minute private YouTube video of feedback and annotated comments, which were immensely useful in the revision process. His section was hard. Dr. Porzak is meticulous about his craft and expects a lot of you from the beginning, but it was this demanding nature that improved my writing. All in all, I cannot recommend Dr. Porzak highly enough. He’s brilliant, organized, and a great teacher. If you’re just looking for an easy A, there are probably better profs out there, but if you want someone who is invested in making your writing better, take UW with Dr. Porzak.

May 2015

Noémie is just great. After hearing everyone else's UW experiences, I can confidently say that I was very grateful to have Noémie for UW. She tries her hardest to make the class interesting and relevant to everyone. She holds mandatory one-on-one conferences before you start each progression to discuss your ideas with you. These are extremely helpful and allow you to be right on track with your writing. I NEVER had to rewrite an essay from scratch, because Noémie makes sure your ideas fit into what's expected of you during these conferences. Her grading was very prompt and the feedback she gives is relevant, practical and helpful. I must also add that she has been the only faculty member who I felt cared about me personally and not just on an academic level, which is always great and comforting.

Aug 2014

Professor Paulson is a very capable and approachable University Writing Professor. I thoroughly enjoyed his classes, although some of my classmates found his classes somewhat challenging. To be fair, Professor Paulson is not the best professor out there, but he gets the job done. Paulson used to work as a journalist, and you can still find some of his articles online. You can get a good sense of his personality and teaching style by just reading his articles. He's a fairly articulate and straightforward lecturer. His University Writing section is very well-structured, and the information is delivered in a very organized manner. Class can be a little boring at times, but it really depends on your classmates. Paulson really tries to be objective and make everyone feel comfortable. Everyone was encouraged to speak and offer feedback. Professor Paulson can be a little harsh with grading, but he's pretty lenient with due dates. He frequently holds office hours, and he's always quick to answer emails. I'd recommend seeing him at least twice for feedback each progression. He offered some very insightful and useful feedback on my papers, and I feel that my writing has improved. In short, Michael Paulson is a solid teacher. He may not be the most exciting lecturer, and his grading may not be the most lenient. But, for the most part, he's a fair and approachable University Professor. Not the best, but certainly not bad.

May 2014

Arden was a pleasure to have this past spring for UWriting. This was her first time teaching the course, and she really did a great job. Any complaints I had with the class were really based in the course itself not Arden. Arden was incredibly responsive to emails (emailing back always within a few hours), a super fast grader (most we ever had to wait was three days), and she was very understanding (sometimes slightly amending the rules for certain progressions if people had certain ideas that didn't quite work with the rules). Class was always somewhat engaging, which is a real feat, because it can be hard to make UWriting interesting. We mostly discussed readings, which were usually pretty thought-provoking, ranging from essays about writing itself to essays on gender. However, where this class really stood out was in its assignments. The four progressions are really well thought-out and Arden's great feedback, usually typing out a full page or so in response (in addition to the mandatory one-on-one meetings), really gave us a chance to work on our writing and to learn. The only complaint I had with UW was that I wish the actual class time was more spent on learning how to write and less on the content of the readings. All in all, Arden was a very fair grader, an engaging writing instructor, and really a sweet person. I would recommend her to anyone.

Dec 2012

I thought Liz was a great teacher. She's really enthusiastic and made UWriting at least bearable if not enjoyable. She's fairly young and relates to her students pretty well. She remembers a lot of tidbits about everyone in the class and will make sure to chat with you. Overall she's a really positive person - she just wants people to participate in class, even if you say something wrong. There was a LOT of reading, but this seems like the norm for all UWriting classes. Make sure you do the reading, because the essays are based off of them. I made the mistake of glossing over a lot of the readings, and I had to go back and read them thoroughly because I had trouble writing my formal drafts. One gripe was that her exercises could take a long time to complete. However, they're graded for completion and could help you write the essays so it wasn't too bad. Also, a lot of the class discussions were based on these exercises so if you didn't do them you were kind of lost. I thought Liz was a fair grader on the essays. I got B+/A-s on pretty much all of the them, which seemed about right. I'm sure if I had put in more effort I could have done even better. She has mandatory conferences for every essay, and it's really important that you go in there with some good questions because she gives you solid feedback and is very clear on her expectations. She will also write about a page of comments/feedback for every formal draft (ungraded) that you turn in, and again she'll make her expectations very clear. She'll remember what advice she gave, too, so be sure to fix whatever she tells you to because she'll notice the improvement. Most of all, I have to say that my writing truly improved after taking this class. Don't just do it for the grade - pay attention to what is being taught. She pointed out a lot of flaws in my writing that my teachers/peers had never commented on before. She's also pretty attractive so that made the morning trudge to class a little more bearable.

Jun 2012

Sweet teacher. She really cares a lot about her students and is incredibly understanding. The worst you could call her grading is fair and the best is lenient; She really tried to give people the resources and feedback they needed to improve. Her discussions were usually alright and often times interesting. She seemed to make a sincere effort to keep the class content as interesting and relevant as possible for UW. She also tried to present otherwise boring topics in as least painful a way as possible. To be sure, everyone was not always pleased with the topics we had to read and write on but at least most people were content most of the time. She encourages a less stuffy, non-academic style of writing and pointed out the problems that were relevant to students at Columbia. She was a strong advocate for presenting a well-reasoned opinion in your essays. She also favored off-beat type exercises that could be a lot of fun. I like her style. She's pretty responsive to feedback. Sometimes the class could be tough to get through, a little dry, and sometimes, especially at the beginning of the year, the workload was really intense. I think the homework assignments were the worst part and they felt pretty repetitive and long. Draft assignments were demanding but she was pretty flexible about deadlines especially around midterms and exams. She tried to keep tab of when we were all drowning, particularly during midterms and finals. All in all, I think almost all of her students leave pretty fond of her and for the better as writers. Be grateful that you have a teacher who cares about actually teaching so much. At the very, very worst, she at least will bring you cookies on occasion so I guess stay in her section for that. I don't think UWriting could get much better.

May 2012

The first day or maybe month of class you will probably think you've landed in a fun University Writing Section. Don't let her sunny disposition fool you. Unless you are one of her three favorite students, you probably will find nothing but frustration from this class. Not only does she assign more work than other University Writing sections, but her feedback on one draft will directly oppose her feedback on other ones. You should always go to office hours, and not write in a sophisticated matter whatsoever. She is looking for high school level writing and attempts to produce other works will be harmful to your GPA. My real advice is to get out as soon as possible.