University Writing

May 2014

Taking Glenn's class was one of the best experiences I had at Columbia yet. Especially for someone who has just arrived here, this class is a perfect entryway into the academic community at Columbia. Not only does Glenn make you feel extremely welcomed, he also teaches you things that are going to be useful for the rest of your time here. One thing that I loved about this class was that, with the help of Glenn's charismatic and caring approach to teaching, everyone became really close to one another in the end. I ended up having a special form of kinship for all of my classmates, and I think that says a lot about how much the class meant for us and about Glenn's incredible teaching skills. Gender studies is a such a difficult topic, because it means deconstructing a lot of the most basic norms that structure our lives, to a point where we generally don't even notice them. It really takes a very skillful teacher like Glenn to walk students from such diverse backgrounds through this very thorny field of studies. I remember sitting at the first few classes and being just amazed at how Glenn managed to smoothly and gradually go over topics in feminist theory with this really heterogenous crew of students — international people, JTS students, a muslim girl, army veterans, proud straight guys and equally proud gay students. As someone who had a little knowledge in gender before, it was amazing to see how Glenn negotiated up to the most radical pieces of theory with students. What's best, he allowed each one of us to understand the theory in their own way and take it wherever they wanted. For example, I remember a classmate doing an essay about why men are generally considered funnier than women. It was clear that each detail of the classes was carefully planned, but at the same time, Glenn was extremely quick on his feet to react to students' responses and change track whenever necessary. In every single aspect of his teaching, you can see that Glenn cares immensely about each one of his students. If you go to office hours, you are sure to find great advice about writing and an amazing person, too. Don't miss out on this opportunity. Now, if you are the kind of student who won't take anything less than an A, don't take this class. Glenn is a tough grader, but he is also extremely fair and makes it clear to you why you had this or that grade. My advice to you is: get over yourself and do this class for the experience, not for a letter on your transcript.

Apr 2014

Everyone I had talked to before I took this class had told me that uwriting was incredibly tedious and dull. I do agree that the course material and structure were formulaic and pretty boring, but I ended up greatly enjoying this class thanks to Tara!!! She is one of my favorite professors at Columbia so far. Very sweet, intelligent, polite and articulate. Her class discussions were lively and interesting, and I genuinely looked forward to her class. The assignments she gave could a pain, but they were ultimately very helpful when I wrote my essays. She returns each essay draft with two pages of typed comments AND margin notes, which is a huge help. Needless to say, she was incredibly approachable and wanted to help us. Tara is a very fair and methodical grader - each final draft is returned with a percentage grade distribution (so you know exactly what you lost point on, and how many), a letter about your essay and suggestions for improvement. I came in to the class as a moderately good high school-level academic writer (AP English classes came very easily to me), and got an A-. I think my grade was mostly a result of me procrastinating and not putting enough work into my essays. Tara is a great teacher and you do not have to have incredible innate writing talent to do well in her class, but you do have to work a ton. Tara also gave my class a lot of freedom to write about what we wanted and was never a subjective reader.

Mar 2014

Echoing what others have said — Prof. Crandall is definitely the kind of teacher you want to have your first semester (or even year) at Columbia. I took her Gender and Sexuality studies class (actually C1012, not C1010). The topic was interesting, but Prof. Crandall really made it come to life. She would always allow us to really discuss the texts, criticize and praise their writing choices, as well as discuss the terminology and material to ensure we had material for our essay. The essays themselves were (I felt) pretty standard. We had a formal and final draft, as well as other writing assignments to do in preparation for our progression essays. Prof. Crandall IS a harsh grader, no doubt about that, but she has a very precise eye and can actually articulate what you do well and where you fall short. This sort of thing has helped me a lot — and if she gives you advice, TAKE IT! She will definitely notice if you do. Although she may seem to be unfairly harsh, you will benefit from this. I can’t tell you how many teachers I have had that will point to something very vague or nondescript in your essay and say that’s either “good” or “bad”. Prof. Crandall will highlight specific words or moves and comment on them, and that will really help you get a better sense for where you’re going in the future. A few criticisms: my biggest one is that she never really taught us how to do that sort of editing for ourselves, or even how to take the first steps. Editing is something that emerges naturally from reading and writing a lot, but I would have enjoyed some pointers as to things we should read or write about. Obviously, I became a better proofreader just by listening to her advice, but I’d like to take the next steps to be able to develop an eve like Prof. Crandall has. Other times, I felt like I got short-shrift at conferences (essentially, mandatory 15 minute office hours) she made us go to. I would show up early, but she would start late with me and, for some reason, make it a point to end on time. One time she started five minutes late and ended on time; she offered to give me some extra help on the way out the building to make up for this, but instead gave pointers someone who overslept and missed their conference entirely (who was conveniently waiting right outside the door when we left). But, despite the criticisms I may have, I think this class was fantastic, and I highly recommend her to anyone who gets the chance to pick her class. She is a fantastic teacher and I am lucky to have been able to learn so much from her!

Jan 2014

Yurina is probably the best professor I have ever had as an undergraduate student. She made me realize that students get out of the class what the professors put in. Yurina is so incredibly hardworking and goes to great such great lengths to see her students succeed (e.g. spending one hour writing margin notes for EACH of our formal drafts), that she really challenged me to develop as a writer. At first, I treated University Writing as just a CORE requirement that I wanted to get over with, however, I cannot even recognize the writer that Yurina has helped me become. She opened so many new ways for thinking and writing for me, that I am forever grateful to her. I feel bad for other students who have professors that do not care as much about the course and their students. If you want/need to improve your writing, take Yurina's class. She will push and challenge you, but it will be worth it in the end. The consensus in our class is that she is also a very fair grader, but she can literally point out BS in any single paragraph, so as long as you put hard work in, she will notice, appreciate it and reward you. She is also a genuinely nice person and very approachable. University Writing was such a joy with her. Our entire class became very close and it was definitely one of my favorite classes that semester. Also, I think Columbia should hire Yurina as a full-time professor. She is brilliant, kind, hardworking and has a HUGE impact on her students.

Jan 2014

Prof. Crandall is an amazing and engaging professor! Keep in mind that I took her Gender and Sexuality section last fall. Like the previous post, I think anyone who wants to become a good writer should seek to have a professor like Emma Crandall. She really tries to focus in how a student thinks of crafting an essay and tries to help with the planning process for academic writing. She demands creativity and insight but also gives good and specific comments after every progression. Prof. Crandall does her best to engage in an exciting discussion about the texts we read in class (about content and writing style). The readings are pretty much awesome so no complaints there. While the readings may not be necessarily long or hard, we did get a writing assignment for every class (~500 words or two pages) which did get annoying at times. Please note that she is not an easy grader. I did not know a single person who had an A in the first 2 progressions (and I was in a class of 12 students...). Definitely take her Gender and Sexuality class if you get the chance!

Jul 2013

Lindsay was great. She taught us how to write with some pizzazz and exposed us to current writers, rather than get mired in stuffy old theory. She has a good sense of humor. And the fact that she doesn't always respond to emails just shows she keeps herself busy and has better things to do. She always was prepared to meet when I needed her, so I figure that's what matters. Anyway, thank the academic gods I got her. Uwriting could have been hellish.

Apr 2013

I LOVED my UWriting section with Lindsay. She is by far the funniest teacher I've ever had. I was in a gender studies-themed section; Lindsay didn't really care about gender studies and only chose readings that she found "delightful", some of which had a definite gender-studies-relevant leaning and some of which did not. She isn't bothered if you haven't done the reading and doesn't make her students do free-writes or responses (busywork required in most of the other sections) and has negotiable due dates. Discussion was always lively. All of that aside, she is a good teacher. Other reviews have described her as inaccessible; I did not find this to be the case. She's readily available during office hours and responded to most of my e-mails; if she doesn't respond, just find her in class. She definitely helped me improve my writing skills, mostly by bringing structure and focus to my writing. She's knowledgeable, engaging, and whip-smart. As a grad student, she understands the workload of her students and isn't totally anal about due dates. She demands that student essays be stapled correctly.

Jan 2013

I went into the class fairly discouraged by the first review on this page, but it turned out to be my favorite class all term. Classes are mostly discussion, and she was very supportive of anyone who commented. She has a unique, humorous way of speaking that made class lively and fun. She's very lenient and understanding of any problems you may have with writing or getting work done for class, and often pushes deadlines back. She's a stickler when it comes to getting to class on time and the format of the papers you turn in, but if you have problems with that, reevaluate your priorities. Readings were chosen by her, and she puts a lot of effort into keeping them interesting. Most people enjoyed almost every reading assignment she gave us, and they're very instructive in terms of writing style, if you appreciate that. I did not have the same email problem that the other reviews brought up. I emailed her quite frequently and she always responded. On one occasion, I had to wait two days, but mostly she responds in a timely fashion. She gives tons of helpful feedback on drafts and essays, and she's always available at the Writing Center if you need more advice. As the previous reviewer said, having specific questions is helpful, but even if you have no clue what you're doing, she does a very good job at pointing you in the right way. I was fairly confident with my writing going in, and I didn't have much trouble with the assignments, but if your writing is not stellar, she's not the best teacher for that. I feel like she holds back on saying some of the harsher or more general things, choosing instead to focus on details. Several classmates complained that they got grades below what they'd expected from the comments she'd given them on their drafts. If you're looking to improve your writing style, she's probably not the best choice. I would still highly recommend her though, and friends from my class who got lower grades adored her all the same.

Aug 2012

Also a review for UWriting. The previous reviewer is right in that Lindsay doesn't provide a lot of support to students who are really struggling, but she is a funny, engaging, and (mostly) lenient instructor for writers who feel that they don't need the support. She never gave us the piles of busy work that other sections get, we very rarely stayed the full amount of class time, and she's hilarious. About contacting her--true, she almost never answers your email unless you mark in the subject that it's important or urgent, but she's always in the UWriting center during her office hours if you need to see her (and if you do come with specific questions and problems Lindsay's critiques are on point and highly helpful). Highly recommend Lindsay for a certain type of student.