MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF WRITING PROGRAMS
Welcome to our writing programs at Loyola University Chicago. Although you may not believe it now, your writing courses will prove to be among the most valuable experiences of your college career. Our goal is to help you to develop the ability to write clearly and persuasively, an ability that will not only contribute to your success as a student at Loyola, and in your profession, but is also one of the hallmarks of a well-educated person. Two principles are fundamental to our program: (1) Everyone can improve his or her writing; and (2), because it requires extensive practice, writing also requires time and patience.
No one can teach you how to write; what we can do, and what it is our responsibility to do, is to help you learn how to write. We work hard to design courses that guide you through every stage of the writing process (invention, organizing, drafting and revising), grammar, punctuation and language acquisition. Your instructors will attempt to create challenging assignments and offer constructive feedback. Your development as a writer, however, is ultimately up to you.
In order to make the most of your writing seminar and the many other courses that require writing, you should do the following things:
- Attend class regularly and promptly
- Prepare for class by doing all of your reading and writing assignments carefully and on time
- Participate responsibly in class activities and discussions
- Stay in communication with your instructors, and ask them questions if their instructions or comments are unclear to you
- Make use of support services such as the Writing Center and the Learning Assistance Center
Two other important resources you have are your course text, Writing Responsibly: Communities in Conversation, and your course handbook, Writing Matters: A Handbook for Writing and Research. Your shared text reader, Writing Responsibly, contains foundational essays chosen to articulate and exemplify the principles of good writing, specifically argument. These essays not only raise the question of how arguments are discovered, supported, and amplified; they also offer instruction in writing for various audiences and rhetorical situations. Your handbook, Writing Matters, is a reference works, like your dictionary, to keep throughout your years at Loyola, and beyond. Its focus is on issues of responsibility, specifically your responsibility to your readers, other writers, your topic, and especially, to yourself as a writer.
Finally, here are two pieces of advice. The first, which applies to all of your college courses, is that although it is reasonable to strive for good grades, learning should always be your primary objective. You are here for an education, not a transcript. Second, remember this fundamental principle, and take it to heart: Improving your writing is always possible, but takes time. This fact may prove frustrating: we all want to see rapid results of our efforts to improve. The theologian and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., writes that human beings are "naturally impatient" to skip the "intermediate stages" of spiritual growth, yet asks us to "trust in the slow work of God." Borrowing from this idea, I ask you to trust in the slow and vital work of your growth as a writer, which began long before you arrived at Loyola and will continue long after you leave.
Victoria Anderson, Ph.D.
Director of Writing Programs