FWS Spring 2021 Balloting Information
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Spring 2021 First-Year Writing Seminar Ballot
How will First-Year Writing Seminar enrollment take place in Spring 2021?
For decades before Fall 2020, First-Year Writing Seminars enrolled separately from other courses, through a ballot system rather than "open" enrollment. In Fall 2020, the centralized overhaul of scheduling and enrollment under pandemic conditions caused the elimination of the FWS ballot. But we are restoring the ballot for Spring 2021 enrollment.
- The ballot for First-Year Writing Seminar enrollments for Spring 2021 will take place from 8am on January 15th-11:59pm on January 21, 2021.
- Beginning at noon on Wednesday, January 13th, you will be able to view the Spring 2021 ballot here.
- Students should aim to satisfy their First-Year Writing Seminar requirement during their first year. Enrollment for FWSs is open only to freshmen, sophomores, and first-semester transfer students; juniors and seniors are not eligible to enroll in First-Year Writing Seminars.
- Transfer students: English 2880-2890, a cluster of writing courses for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, may fulfill a First-Year Writing Seminar requirement for those who need it. Students enroll for these sections through Student Center.
How does the ballot work?
Rather than a one-time, first-come first-served process, the ballot period will take place from 8am on January 15th-11:59pm on January 21, 2021. As an eligible student, you will submit a ranked list of your top five (5) FWS preferences, compatible with the rest of your previously pre-enrolled schedule. While the ballot is open, you may make changes as often as you like. At the close of the period, we sort these gathered ballots by algorithm and distribute students into seminars according to their preferences, as optimally as possible. For decades, the FWS ballot has created a remarkably consistent record of matching preferences with availability. About 50% of students get their first choice; 80% get either their first or second choice; about 95% one of their top three—this, in a system of over 3000 students and over 300 enrollment-capped courses every year.
Beginning at noon on Wednesday, January 13th, you will be able to view the Spring 2021 ballot here. Because you already will have pre-enrolled for your other classes—saving at least three (3) credits below the limit set by your college, to leave room for your FWS—you will know where are the open time-slots and meeting patterns in your schedule. You can browse the offerings in these available time-slots and start deciding on your preferences before the ballot opens in mid-January.
The enrollment system can function properly only under certain constraints. Please note the following very carefully:
- Only students in residence in Ithaca for Spring 2021 may ballot for any “in-person” or “hybrid” First-Year Writing Seminar, that is, any seminar with any in-person classroom component. These will be clearly marked as such in the ballot.
- Due to the limited number of “in-person/hybrid” First-Year Writing Seminars, no residential student may ballot for more than TWO (2) such seminars. Any student may ballot for any “online” seminars.
- In pre-enrollment, you must have saved at least three (3) credits below the limit set by your college, to leave room for your FWS. (The different undergraduate colleges have different policies and limits, so please consult your college’s advising/student services office for the most accurate information and counsel. The Knight Institute bears no responsibility for your college’s limits or your choices.) If your FWS ballot selection creates any credit “overload,” deliberately or inadvertently, you will not be enrolled in any seminar, and would need to go through Add-Drop beginning on February 5. At that point, your choices will be limited and your original preferences may well have been closed. By filling out a Spring 2021 FWS ballot, you confirm that you understand and accept this constraint.
- Because you already will have pre-enrolled in your other classes, you will know where are the open time-slots and meeting patterns in your schedule, and should search for seminars ONLY at those times. None of your five selections should conflict or overlap in any way with any of your pre-enrolled class schedule. If any of your five FWS ballot selections creates any scheduling conflict, deliberately or inadvertently, you may not be enrolled in any seminar, and would need to go through Add-Drop beginning February 5. At that point, your choices will be limited and your original preferences may well have been closed. By filling out a Spring 2021 FWS ballot, you confirm that you understand and accept this constraint.
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 Writing Workshop provides an opportunity for students 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:
- submit their first FWS essay to the FWS Writing Consultation Canvas site;
- submit a writing sample from a previous FWS or college-level writing course to the FWS Writing Consultation Canvas site; or
- submit a short essay in response to one of three writing prompts available on the FWS Writing Consultation Canvas site.
Students may opt to participate in the FWS Writing Consultation at various times in the enrollment process:
- before they ballot for First-Year Writing Seminars, or
- during the Open Enrollment Add/Drop Period (recommended either before classes begin or during the first week of the semester)
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:
- Spring 2021 First-Year Writing Seminar Ballot can be viewed here beginning at noon on January 13.
- Initial enrollment will occur by submission of ballot and will take place between 8am on January 15th and 11:59pm on January 21, 2021.
- First-Year Writing Seminars should appear on your schedule in Student Center on January 28th.
- Electronic Add/Drop will begin on February 5*.
- *This date applies to freshmen, sophomores, and first-semester transfer students.
- Writing seminars begin February 8.
- The last day to add an FWS is February 22.
Electronic Add/Drop for First-Year Writing Seminars
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.