FWS Enrollment

For first-year students, the Knight Institute offers First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS) in one of the country's largest and most diverse programs in writing in the disciplines: each semester, over 100 different courses are taught in more than 30 departments and programs located in the humanities, social sciences, expressive arts, and sciences. Through introductory work in each seminar's particular field of study, students learn to write in a range of genres and in ways that emphasize clarity, coherence, intellectual force, and stylistic control. Our Spotlight FWS Work webpage highlights some of the exciting projects students are doing in FWSs, as does our student publication Discoveries.

First-Year Writing Seminar enrollment resumes for first-year students, sophomores, and first-semester transfer students on August 18, 2023 at 9:00 am.

Follow these links to see our exciting Fall 2023 roster!

Note that many seminars were likely filled to capacity when new students pre-enrolled in July, but seats may become available throughout the Add/Drop period, so check for openings from time to time.

Students may enroll only in a seminar with open spots in it, and no student can be registered for more than one FWS at a time. 

Enrollments for First-Year Writing Seminars are strictly capped; no over-enrollments are permitted. 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.

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.

Here is our advice about Add/Drop & FWS enrollment:

  • 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 below.

  • Add-Drop for first-year students and sophomores begins at 9:00 AM on August 18: this will be the first opportunity for first-year students to change their FWS enrollment, or to enroll if they did not do so in July. This is the first opportunity for continuing freshmen and sophomores to enroll in a First-Year Writing Seminar for FA23. 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. 

  • Add-Drop process for First-Year Writing Seminars: To see the list of seminars that retain open spots after incoming freshmen pre-enrollment, 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, 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 above.

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.

Learn more about writing the FWS Writing Consultation on the Writing Workshop page.

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