University Writing

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.

Jun 2014

I can honestly say that Christina's UW class was one of the best classes of my freshman year! (I am in no way an English major.) Not only is Christina down to earth, but she is also very passionate about teaching. Her course was more than just writing; it made students delve deep into philosophical problems and question elements of our daily lives. The readings she assigns are reasonable and interesting, unlike what I hear about other UW professors. The exercise Christina assigns are also helpful and purposeful. Moreover, she gives very helpful feedback after each draft of an essay and even gives you an idea of what grade the draft would have received had it been the final draft. I feel that my writing significantly improved after her course. Though her class is definitely not an "easy A," it is definitely possible to do very well in the course. For anyone looking for a UW professor, I would strongly recommend Christina!

May 2014

Sarah Thomas was a rock star this semester, and I feel like I came out of the class a better writer. While her class is not a "themed" UWriting section, expect readings to be heavy on race, racism, race relations, etc. Many of us were put off at first by her asking us to call her "Miss Thomas." She's under 30, so we thought that was a bit too formal and were expecting strictness as a result. She definitely had a rigid structure to class and expected strong participation from each student. Class discussion was often very, very interesting, and we were able to talk about some heavy topics in a safe environment and freely express out opinions. The writings progressions themselves were a bear, especially the P3 research. Miss Thomas's comments were thorough and helpful on formal drafts, and personal conferences were usually very helpful as well. Miss Thomas is an MFA student and budding writer herself, so at the very least she understands the struggle of being a student. I grew close personally to Miss Thomas and overall had an awesome time in her class. Class was highly engaging, and the different forms of writing we did helped me to expand my writing ability- I'm not longer restricted to a simple x-paragraph essay- writing became more of an art form. I would highly recommend Miss Thomas!

Mar 2014

I agree with some of the opinions in the previous comments. Prof. Crandall teaches fairly well the general mechanics of an academic essay, she is demanding, and she is a hard grader. It’s beneficial, of course, since writing is so important to a successful academic life at Columbia. However, she has a personality that does not click with too many people. In a large class the relationship with a professor does not matter much. In a small class like UW it can affect performance negatively. In my case it became a slippery slope. On both parts, unfortunately as at a certain point I realized that the professor was not even reading my assignments. There is no doubt that I was part of the reason this class did not work well for me, but this review is about the professor. So, here are a few critical observations: Prof. Crandall puts considerable pressure on her students, which in itself is positive. However, very often she did not back up that pressure with concrete, specific suggestions on what or how to improve. I would have liked to know about potential problems with my writing before starting to write my first essay. Instead, too often I received back writing assignments with just squares around keywords. Important clues, of course, but not sufficiently helpful. Readings were challenging, but only a few were truly interesting from an intellectual point of view. I understand that the semester at Columbia is long and hard for a professor too. Nevertheless, I found it unacceptable that at least in two occasions the professor went on rants about unspecified people pointing out that she was not afraid of anyone. It was unnecessary, threatening and inconvenient. Class discussions were productive, but to a certain point. A few times I was left wondering whether the professor had really read carefully all of the readings she had assigned. This is my opinion and I might be completely wrong. The fact is that sometimes the discussions did not have a precise aim. I envy the other reviewers who had a great experience with Prof. Crandall. I wanted to succeed in this course and I can see that this professor can be a good teacher when she wants/is in the right mood. Unfortunately, all I can recommend is this: Register for her class, if you think you can handle a very strong personality. If your gut tells you in the first week that this is not the teacher for you, don’t think it twice. It just means that this is not the teacher for you.

Jan 2014

Prof Albanese is an excellent choice for University Writing. Although some of the readings were slightly challenging (unless you are familiar with 19th century French Literature) she made sure everyone understood the material through her lectures and intelligently led classroom discussions. She will make time available to you for any questions, help, or guidance you might find yourself needing for any of the assignments. The grading is very fair. Do the readings and apply yourself in your writing assignments and not only will you get an A you will actually learn a thing or two as well!

Jan 2014

Adam is a great UWriting professor. His classes are interesting and he manages to provoke good discussion (despite the 8:40am class time). I had him for the Sustainable Development themed section, and he really knows his stuff (I guess his background in biology plays a role in this too), and in the process of doing all his readings and exercises I learned quite a bit about both the theoretical and practical sides of Sustainable Development. I'd highly recommend his class for students interested in sust dev. In terms of writing, this class really made me think. Adam requires you develop detailed, advanced, non-trivial, and very well thought out essays. Although at times frustrating, the class will no doubt make you a better thinker and writer. I thought the workload was intense but largely manageable. He gives a couple readings and a written exercise (about 1-2 pages) per class, which ultimately will help you for the essay. He's also a fair grader, but expect to get lower grades than you did in high school. His comments on your drafts and essays are long, detailed, and so so helpful. I also highly recommend going to a lot of his office hours, because he has great suggestions and comments. Talking about your essay ideas will definitely help! Moral of the story: take Adam's class!

Jan 2014

I think most people that have taken Uwriting with Selby will agree that taking this class is like being in an extended love hate relationship. Selby is a fantastic teacher. She is sweet, accommodating, and has no problems about answer your questions early in the morning or during office hours. That being said, because she is a fantastic teacher she knows exactly where all your weaknesses and lazy tendencies as a writer are and will not let you get away with any of them. The trick to doing well in this class (and more importantly learning to write well) is to do all of her writing exercises WELL. Selby provides a lot of feedback, which is important when you start revising for your final paper. Essentially the better the work you submit the better feedback you'll get and the better paper you'll end up writing.Take her "radical revision" philosophy very seriously along with her "says does charts". As much as you'll hate to admit, they are really helpful for when you get into writers blocks or just want to get as much progress done in as little time as possible. This class is by all means manageable (this is coming from an engineering student who had a very full course load) and you shouldn't have too much difficultly navigating through this class if you put in a fair effort. However, if you really want to change your writing for the better inject yourself into this class and you will come out a better writer.

Dec 2013

Chris did an amazing job! When I first met Chris in class I thought he was a literature nerd being that he is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in Classic Literature and that would transpire to him being a writing Nazi or at minimum, a snob. This worried me because I come from a background in the military where we hardly ever wrote anything, so my writing was massively lacking in every way. Chris was turned out to be friendly and extremely personable and approachable. I met with Chris several times and every question I had he was extremely helpful in answering. He had great insight into writing and what I needed to do to improve. His comments and suggestions made sense and I was able to understand what he meant and then apply it. I feel my writing has improved tremendously thanks to him. I am very thankful I was lucky enough to have him as a professor. I have already recommended him to my friends.Despite his demanding schedule working on his own writing, he was very timely in responding to emails and always willing to meet, even outside of office hours. His obvious flexibility was perfect for the GS/non-traditional students he taught. We all respected him greatly (even though he is younger than a few of us, myself included). TAKE HIS COURSE.

May 2012

Aaron is very lenient and laid back, which makes it all the more shocking when you get your grades -- it doesn't matter how hard you work, by registering for Aaron's section, you're going to get a B. When drafts were due, I spent an average of 16 hours a week on this class, and walked away with the same grade as others who showed up with a one paragraph "draft" they'd obviously written in the half hour before class without even reading the articles. I would strongly recommend Aaron's section for anyone who wants an easy B, but if you're hoping for a better grade, take one of the other sections where the work throughout the semester might be a little heavier, but in the end you actually have a shot at a good grade.