Take 'The Art of the Essay' if you want to look more closely at the phenomena you observe in your own life and in the world around you. You will be drafting three personal essays and using different lenses to analyze what you observe. The best part--you can choose to write about whatever you want. Condillac is an excellent professor, and the way she teaches writing is unique because it is well structured and she is clear about her expectations. With each reading we discuss or assignment we complete, there are certain explicit skills that we practice and later implement in our own essays. In addition, Condillac schedules individual meetings from her own time to discuss and workshop drafts of each essay that students wrote. Her feedback and insights at these meetings are incredibly helpful--Condillac is so good at teasing out exactly what you're trying to say through back and forth discussion and asking the right questions. More than her abilities as a professor, though, Condillac is funny and bright, a welcome energy in the daily slog of Zoom meetings. She was also understanding this semester, granting extensions regularly for the whole class. Her grading was fair and at times generous (in my personal experience). I cannot recommend this class and this professor enough. Take it for the opportunity to think critically about yourself and the world around you, and to improve your writing in a small workshop setting. Take it for Vrinda Condillac. Just take it!
I have no idea why Professor Condillac's reviews are so negative! I had her for FYW this semester and I loved her. She's a very sweet person and her class created by far the best sense of community that I experienced this semester. This class wasn't my first choice for FYW, but it was the one that I ended up with, and even though the first few weeks were a little slow, by the end of the semester it was one of the most enjoyable classes I took. The readings were all interesting and the class discussions that we had were always lively and passionate. Professor Condillac was very accommodating and frequently asked us for feedback on how she could make the class more enjoyable and less stressful for us. Granted, the fact that FYW was P/F this semester is probably why we all liked her more than her past students did, but nevertheless, I think she's a very sweet, kind person, and I'm pretty sure my classmates agree. Her feedback was thoughtful and helpful. The most annoying part of this class was the frequent "1-2 page free responses" that we had to turn in after almost every reading, but to my knowledge, she never really looked back at them or graded them, so it's very low pressure, and writing them WAS helpful in formulating ideas for later papers, so I recommend doing them thoughtfully anyway.
I absolutely hated this class. I started off liking it, but if your opinions do not completely match hers, she disregards you completely. The reading was somewhat interesting, but I would not recommend taking this class with Vrinda unless it is the only class your schedule allows for.
I found this class to be very beneficial to my writing. Going to her office hour is very very important for this class because you get to flesh out your own ideas in ways that you might not even think about before. I would say to get a good grade in your essay you need to be very clear by what you mean. She definitely values clarity more than your style. I would also recommend to hyper-close read and find patterns before jumping in your essays. Although a lot of people think this class isn't enjoyable, I think it will be if you make it! Personally, I think Vrinda really encouraged me to explore further and more depth in my writing because of her questioning-based rather than thesis-based style of writing.
Do not take a class with her. Ever. She has such a big ego...on the first day of class she said that FIRST YEAR WRITING should be THE hardest class we take in all of college and that she doesn't give anyone an A, and barely gives out A-s. Then, even after meeting with her twice for every paper, her only comments on my final draft were things she had told me to change and then went back on. I did not get better at writing; if anything my writing stayed the same but my confidence plummeted. Highly highly discouraging that a woman with such a huge ego and NOT EVEN a PhD can affect so many people in such a negative way.
Vrinda is an absolute icon. I truly don't understand where the negative reviews are coming from. I feel like anyone who gets a bad grade in her class must really just be putting in no effort or be completely unresponsive to any of her criticism. She's super understanding about her students' circumstances. I asked for an extension on an assignment without giving any reason whatsoever and she told me I could absolutely have one. The workload is a bit heavy, but the only reason she gives so many assignments is so that her students will be thinking about and workshopping their ideas in advance rather than leaving an essay draft until the last minute (which I greatly appreciated as someone who tends to procrastinate). Overall she's so sweet, so understanding, so open to questions, so willing to help every student gain a better understanding of each piece. And she has so much fun teaching!! There were so many times when I couldn't help but smile because she just got SO EXCITED about the material and analyzing it with us. This class improved my writing skills but I think more importantly it greatly improved my analytical thinking skills. I also genuinely enjoyed almost all of the works that we read.
The thing about Vrinda is that her class isn't wonderful, but she is. I had a horrible first semester, as I was dealing with family tragedies, personal health issues, and a myriad of other issues. However, Vrinda was always kind and understanding when I had to miss class or wasn't as engaged as I should have been. The class is incredibly boring and she definitely babies her students, but she does it with love in her heart and cares deeply about the success of her students. It is annoying to have to write a million drafts for every essay, but she does give decent feedback (although sometimes I believe that it isn't really warranted tbh). Regardless, Vrinda is wonderful, and if her class is the only one that fits with your schedule, don't freak out! I was nervous after reading the other reviews, but it seriously isn't that bad and she is wonderful.
Now that I completed her class, I liked this class, but I will admit it is one of the hardest classes I've ever taken. I was constantly stressed about this class as I felt like I would work and re-work as essay and still get a mediocre grade Even though the work was hard and the essays in particular are graded harshly, I do think Vrinda is a good teacher. Before this class, I honestly had started to think my skills in writing were as good as they were going to get given my natural ability. Like I was a decent writer but not great, and I just didn't have the natural skill to be a better writer In her class, however, the way she teaches writing helped me feel more capable of writing better and more sophisticatedly. Her class also helped me think more complexly and the material we read and the way we had to engage with it was very interesting and different from anything I've thought about before. It honestly has shifted my perception of gender and race completely. I personally felt like she was very open to my ideas and really welcomed struggling with opposing ideas and not having fully formulated opinions as part of the process. A semester later, I am still reference things I talked and thought about while taking that class because it really did have such a deep impact on me. Basically this class is admittedly not that fun while you are taking it, but in retrospect it was definitely worth it because I learned a lot and became a better thinker and writer. Pro tip: Definitely go to her office hours when you can. She gives really good advice and helps you work through your ideas if you're feeling kind of lost. A grades are definitely obtainable in this class.
I personally love Vrinda. She’s funny and kind, and is incredibly supportive. I missed a lot of class for a family emergency, and she was willing to work with me on my time despite the fact that I was missing like 6 assignments. I personally love her, although she is a harsh grader and going to office hours makes everything more confusing.
literal icon. funny, sweet, and sharp as a tack. very harsh grader but you WILL become a better writer. she's super kind and understanding, and has required one-on-ones to go over every first draft you turn in before a final paper. i've never had a prof do that. vrinda is queen and truly cares!
Professor Condillac is intolerable. Her disorganization, long time to get grades back, unfair grading system, and bias towards anyone who kisses her ass is unbelievable. It is a shame, really, that she is so awful, because the course material was fantastic. I had no motivation, and was often left very anxious and angry because of her shifting deadlines and inability to be flexible with any idea that was not her own. We all cranked out papers with topics and agendas she pushed, and ended with the same papers essentially because if our analysis and interpretation was not hers-- it was wrong. It is ridiculous this occurs, especially if she is supposed to foster creativity in young, bold women, and give them the means to express that. Instead, she beat everyone down. I know of only two people who enjoyed her class, and even they could see her flaws at the end of the semester when she completely unravelled. In conclusion: FYW Women and Culture has fabulous material, so take it! WITH ANYONE BUT VRINDA. She is definitely smart, but a bad professor.
While I understand why students often get frustrated with her, Professor Condillac is easily the best teacher I've ever had. She is so supportive, encouraging, and helpful, but only if you show her that you are willing to work just as hard as her to refine your essays. I have found that on the days where I am 100% engaged and paying attention, I leave feeling so much more at ease about whatever paper I'm working on because she is THAT amazing of a teacher. You just have to really focus and hear what she's saying and participate in her activities and discussions. The days that I missed or was browsing online and not paying attention, I felt overwhelmed and confused, but rightfully so because I wasn't giving it my best effort. I already considered myself a very strong and talented writer before entering this class but my writing has improved SIGNIFICANTLY. She is not only very educated and experienced in her field--she is actually so skilled at teaching. I turned in multiple drafts late and she still worked diligently with me on them and took her time answering all my questions. So, no, this won't be an easy class, but if you stick it out and remain engaged, I promise you will come out a much better writer than you were before!
Queen Vrinda!!! She doesn't have the best CULPA reviews but I really enjoyed her class. She is brilliant and helps you become a better writer. I am not a great writer so she really helped me gain structure/organization in my essays and push myself harder than ever before. However, she does like you to follow outlines so if you are already a strong writer (especially one who is more creative) I don't recommend her class. Some of my peers who had English backgrounds felt limited by her way of teaching writing. However, if you are like me and need to improve your English skills, this class is great! She was really supportive if you tried to talk to her about personal things. Office hours were good to build a relationship with her but you usually left having to change your essay drastically. Also, she emphasized looking at texts through a queer/trans/non-binary lens. Definitely a welcoming environment for queer students.
Vrinda is a queen. Don't fuk w her.
I'm not an English person at all but I loved taking FYW with Professor Condillac and I think being in her class improved my writing a lot. She is definitely a harsh grader and there was a steep learning curve for her way of analyzing texts and of writing about them, so I (and I think the whole class) struggled with the first paper, but after that her expectations were a little more clear. I loved the class discussions we had, and the connections Professor Condillac chose to draw between the material and with current events. This was definitely a hard class but I learned a lot and loved Professor Condillac.
Taking her class is my biggest regret of my first year experience. Not only that her unrealistic expectation frustrates and stresses you out, you actually don't really learn much about developing your own writing style because she not only forces a very specific, often complicated and unclear writing style, but she also rejects most of your interpretations of the readings. Even after spending weeks on developing your paper, she often rips your ideas apart when you meet with her in person right before the deadline, saying that they do not make sense or they do not connect. This frustrated me because she doesn't even read our daily progress carefully enough to realize that they do not make sense. I wish she could have pointed out or made suggestions a few weeks earlier so that I did not have to waste my time researching and analyzing things that I'm not even gonna write on my final draft. People say she is a nice person or whatever, but I don't think she is. Her hobby is to make our lives miserable and she loves seeing us struggle. The number of time you meet with her or the hours you spent developing your paper does not matter to her; if she doesn't agree with what you say, she will give you a horrible grade. If you are kind of person who loves to be unreasonably challenged, then take this class. You would love her. But if you are kind of person who appreciates receiving grades that align with your effort, then do not take her class. I cannot emphasize enough how much I hate this class. Her class is boring, you will not get an A, you will hate writing by the end of semester, and it will ruin your semester. I used to like writing, but now I hate it. Thanks to this amazing professor.
I found that a lot of the work in this class was just busy work. She was very invested in helping us do better but I found meetings with her very frustrating and it was unclear what she wanted. She took forever to grade things and overall I found the course very frustrating as she was a very harsh grader.
This class can be hard at times, but Professor Condillac is really supportive. The first essay you may be freaked out if you do poorly, but don't worry because everyone does poorly on the first essay. If you go to her for help and really try to understand what she wants from you, you can do really well. Overall the discussion in the class was great and Professor Condillac is great at teaching. I would go to her for help right away on all of your essays, and go over drafts multiple times with her. She is ALWAYS willing to help you and sit with you for as long as it takes.
Do not take this class if you can try not to. She’s nice and you can always go to office hours but she only wants you to write in a certain formula and if it’s not the exact replica of the sample she gives you then it’s not good. This is a hard class that will make you think about every word in the book you’re writing on and if you don’t close read it’s not good enough.
Just don't do it. There's only one right answer and its hers. Ridiculously formulaic to the point that writing has to be choppy, repetitive, and unnatural. Taught me only to be anxious as a writer and to avoid all out-of-the-box thinking. Save yourselves!
Although incredibly nice and accessible, this class was a huge disappointment. Vrinda doesn't encourage discussion in any way although she likes to act like she does; she often imposes her interpretations of literary works on the class and dismisses other ideas if they don't exactly match what she's thinking of. We haven't had one in depth discussion all year, perhaps she'd be better as a lecturer but for a small 12 person class this really isn't enjoyable (an hour of her asking questions, ignoring the answers we give, and saying her own answer out loud gets a little monotonous). For essays: Prepare to have her give you her ideas on what you're trying to say as opposed to actually attempting to understand what you're writing about and guiding you in the right direction. She turns writing into a formulaic task, with hundreds of worksheets you'll fill out but never use again, and incredibly inflexible ideas about what an essay has to be. In my opinion, she teaches you to follow a formula of the essays she enjoys rather than actually providing you with tools to write original essays for a variety of classes. Meeting with her also isn't helpful, as she doesn't even look at your draft before giving you her own opinions and pushing you towards them or making you do activities like free writes and worksheets (in an hour long meeting) and then not giving you any helpful advice aside from writing down her own ideas for you to later regurgitate in an essay. She also made us buy an $80 book pack (5 books) from book culture and a course reader from village copier from which we've read two books and less than half of the reader.
I didn’t enjoy this class, but other people did. Professor Condillac really likes her own ideas and tends to push them on her students, which really annoyed me. I am going to college to learn how to express my own ideas, not regurgitate my professor’s. Expect to write essays about what she thinks your saying (after barely skimming your paper) rather than what you actually want to write about. The people who enjoyed this class seemed to have ideas that were very similar to hers and were often in awe of her ideas. Also, Professor Condillac tends to silence people by passing over what they say if she doesn’t think it matches with what she is saying. She doesn’t help people she disagrees with or doesn’t understand express their ideas, even though learning to express your ideas is the whole point of college, especially a women’s college. She also doesn’t give many comments on first drafts and takes a long time to give them back. Overall, if you don’t mind having to rewrite your essay to fit her ideas after every meeting with her, you will be fine. If you actually want to learn how to express your own ideas and be an independent thinker, maybe consider taking a different class. Either way, you will probably be fine grade wise; it’s more of a decision about how much you want to learn.
She is simply one of the greatest English teachers I have ever had, and I have had a great English education. She was always funny and engaging in class. She made so much time to meet one on one with each student to improve all of our writing. I honestly felt like she pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone with writing and made me a better person for it. I can attribute so much of my success in writing to her. Take any class she offers!!!!
As the posts below suggest Vrinda is a great teacher except she keeps telling the class that she will finish grading our papers by a certain date and we never get it back on the date she declares. It is very stressful waiting for our grades to be released on a certain day and then it does not happen. It's been like this for every single assignment this semester. I don't know why she does this may be she just should not tell the class her personal goal for when she hopes to finish grading and surprise us when shes done.
The other reviews regarding Vrinda are spot-on. She's a great professor: accessible, intelligent and interested. The work she gives out is never just busywork--it clearly all serves a purpose. If you're interested in doing well in the class, there's no reason you can't. She will help you, almost step-by-step, to improve your writing and mold your work into a good, solid paper. If you want to get a good grade on a paper and don't, it's your own fault. She is fully available and very helpful in expressing to you exactly what she is looking for. There are no surprises with her grading.
Highly recommend Professor Vrinda Condillac for UW. She chooses very interesting readings, is flexible in her schedule, is very approachable/reasonable, and makes great effort to give helpful feedback to writing assignments. Although writing assignments can be tedious, they allow yourself to brainstorm your topics for each essay paper. It can be time consuming, but the UW writing curriculum of 4 essays per semester requires it be so. Professor Vrinda offers very creative ideas and helpful advice regarding how to pursue essay topics and methods to research. She is also very informed on the current issues. At times, she may be very rigid about your topic if she does not understand what you are trying to write about; however, if you communicate your ideas well to her, she will be extremely resourceful. Her grading is very fair, at times lenient as long as you are making great efforts. She requires the topic to be very clear and your arguments to follow consistently with the topics that are relevant. Choose your topics wisely and ask yourself what you are really writing about, and you will benefit from the rigorous process.
If you have Vrinda for university writing, you are luckier than most Columbia freshman. The infamous UW class is made tolerable because she holds interesting classroom discussions and allows for a broad spectrum of interpretation of texts. She is polite, professional, yet still down to earth. She is dedicated to teaching and very willing and flexible outside of class. The personal attention she gives to every student is unique and you should take advantage of it. Meeting with her is the best way to improve your writing and papers. It is often frustrating to have to continually tear up your papers through three drafts but her comments are very helpful and if you make her changes, you will succeed.
Vrinda does a great job explaining what possibly can be explained in University Writing. My aversion to University Writing has far more to do with the course than with her. She was always able to sustain interesting discussion and chose interesting articles to read and analyze in class. She is always willing to meet with students, even if it means that she has to sacrifice an hour of her time per meeting for all 12 people in the class. This personal attention and clarity helped make UWriting relatively bearable. Her Indian-British accent definitely helped, too, though.