First-Year Writing Seminar Enrollment

Spring 2023 FWS Enrollment

Sp23 First-Year Writing Seminar Brochure PDF (subject to change)

Sp23 First-Year Writing Seminar SEARCHABLE Brochure (subject to change)

For Spring 2023, First-Year Writing Seminar placements will be conducted through the University enrollment system on a first-come, first-served basis. 

First-year students and sophomores will pre-enroll for a First-Year Writing Seminar beginning at 7:30 am on November 9 and ending at 11:59 pm on November 11.  Any further changes must await the Add-Drop period for first-Year Writing Seminars, which begins for sophomores and freshmen on January 20, 2023, at 9:00 am. Please visit the website of the Office of the University Registrar, or consult with your college’s Advising/Student Services office, for official information and dates regarding the enrollment process.

Many seminars are likely to fill to capacity very quickly after first-year and sophomore pre-enrollment opens on November 9.  Students may enroll only in a seminar with open spots in it. No student can be registered for more than one FWS at a time.  Please do not contact FWS instructors, who have no control over the enrollment process; there are no waiting lists, and you will not be allowed to “sit in” on any seminar if you are not on the roster.  No registrar can enroll you in a FWS. All FWS enrollment takes place electronically only, via Student Center.

Sp23 First-Year Writing Seminar Brochure PDF (subject to change)

Sp23 First-Year Writing Seminar SEARCHABLE Brochure (subject to change)


Juniors, seniors, and transfer students:

A preferable alternative for you is ENGL 2880 (fall) / Engl 2890 (spring), Expository Writing, which can substitute for FWS credit.

First-year students and sophomores:

Enrollments for First-Year Writing Seminars are strictly capped; no over-enrollments are permitted. Seminars could fill to capacity very quickly after the first-year and sophomore pre-enrollment window for students opens on November 9.  

Therefore, the Knight Institute recommends that you plan accordingly, taking your entire schedule into account.   

The Knight Institute will not oversee the FWS enrollment process, so we urge you to consult with your college’s Advising/Student Services Office or the University Registrar for guidance on registration.

Spring 2023 First-Year Writing Seminars PDF (coming soon)

Spring 2023 First-Year Writing Seminar SEARCHABLE Brochure (coming soon)

Here is our advice about Spring 2023 FWS enrollment:

  1. Incoming First-year students: If your FWS selection is a high priority for you, be ready to seek it immediately when your enrollment window opens at 7:30 AM on November 9, following the process set by the Office of the University Registrar.
  1. Once a First-Year Writing Seminar is filled to capacity, it is unalterably closed until at least the opening of the Add-Drop process; even then, it would become “open” only if one or more enrolled students were to drop it.  Please do not contact your college registrar, who has no power to lift the enrollment cap.   Please do not contact the instructor, who has no control over enrollments.  There are no waiting lists for First-Year Writing Seminars, no “shopping,” and no forms to sign or stamp. Add-Drop for FWSs takes place electronically only, via Student Center.  See item #6 below.
  2. Add-Drop for first-year students and sophomores begins at 7:30 AM on November 9: this will be the first opportunity for first-year and sophomore students to change their FWS enrollment, or to enroll if they did not do so in November. This process is subject to the constraints explained above: students can only add a seminar that has open spots in it (i.e., an enrollment below the designated cap).   Please be aware that at this point capacity and choice will be limited. 
  3. Add-Drop process for First-Year Writing Seminars January 20: To see the list of seminars that retain open spots after incoming freshmen pre-enrollment, beginning on November 9, log in to Student Center. Click “Search for Classes,” then “Additional Search Criteria.”  In the “Session” field, choose “FWS Session.”  This will show you the list of open seminars.  Once the Add-Drop window opens January 20, you may make changes from here.  Remember that the list of open seminars can change as students drop and add, so you should check frequently.  Please be aware that at this point capacity and choice will be limited.  See #4 above.
  4. You may not create any time-conflict or overlap between your FWS and any other classes on your schedule.  You may not create an “overload” beyond the credit limit set by your college.  You may not enroll in more than one First-Year Writing Seminar. Once the first-year and sophomore enrollment period ends on November 11, at 11:59 pm, you cannot drop or change until January 20 at the earliest.
  5. We further recommend that you prepare a prioritized list of several FWSs that fit in open time slots in your schedule, in case your top preference(s) have filled already.  You will not want to waste time returning to the course roster to ponder alternatives, since these too may be filling up meanwhile.

Important Dates

  • Sp23 First-Year Writing Seminar Brochure (coming soon)
  • Sp23 First-Year Writing Seminar SEARCHABLE Brochure (coming soon)
  • Pre-enrollment for first-year and sophomore students will occur from November 9, 7:30 am-November 11, 11:59 pm.

  • Add/drop period begins on January 20, 2023. (dates and times subject to change)
  • Fall instruction begins on Monday, January 23, 2023.

  • Last day to add a First-Year Writing Seminar is Monday, February 6.

FWS Writing Consultation

Because Cornell’s writing seminars may expect a greater range of writing abilities than many students have exposure to in high school, the Knight Institute offers a FWS Writing Consultation to give students an opportunity to discover how well current writing skills fit into what Cornell expects.


During the FWS Writing Consultation, students submit short writing samples and meet with writing instructors for advice on which First-Year Writing Seminars are most appropriate for their learning styles and previous experience with academic writing.

Students can participate in the FWS Writing Consultation in one of three ways:

For more information about the FWS Writing Consultation process, students can attend INFORMATION SESSIONS during the Summer Scholars Institute, the PREPARE Program for International Students, and Cornell's New Student Orientation. They can also consult directly with Writing Workshop Director Tracy Hamler Carrick:

Electronic Add/Drop

FWS Add/Drop enrollment must be done electronically through Student Center. Neither instructors nor registrars can approve additional enrollment into any First-Year Writing Seminar. Caps on enrollment cannot be lifted. There are no wait-lists or forms to sign; do not ask an instructor about adding a seminar. Instructors will not allow any student not on the roster to sit in on a First-Year Writing Seminar.

To find open First-Year Writing Seminars during the Add/Drop period:

  • Go to Student Center.
  • At the search screen, click on “Additional Search Criteria.”
  • Choose “FWS Session” from the “Session” field. This will show you all open FWS classes.

A First-Year Writing Seminar is open ONLY if it appears in this list.  Check frequently, because the list can change.