First-Year Writing Seminar

Welcome to the First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS)! We are excited to have you in this class in which we introduce first-year students to Cottey’s threads of women’s leadership, social responsibility and global awareness while teaching foundational writing skills.

A special feature of this course is that you will discover your strengths using the CliftonStrengths assessment tool. We will discuss your unique strengths and how they will help you succeed in college and in your career.  

During FWS you will

  1. Receive help transitioning from high school-level work to college-level expectations,
  2. Hone your intellectual skills, specifically critical reading, thinking and writing skills, and adapt those to college-level work,
  3. Be introduced to the values of Cottey during your first semester to better understand Cottey’s mission as well as the value of a Liberal Arts and Sciences education, and
  4. Establish a learning and social community that helps you develop bonds with other students.  

This is a foundational course for Cottey students for both writing and content. You will be introduced to the benefits of women’s-only education, Cottey history, women’s leadership, social responsibility and global awareness through the practice of thoughtful reading, analysis and writing within a liberal arts context. This course provides you with the opportunity to connect with our institution, and connection is shown to increase student success. This signature Cottey writing course allows you to absorb our threads and become strong writers as well as socially and globally aware leaders within your first semester at Cottey.

In addition to the three threads and Cottey history, you also will read a book selected by the First-Year Writing Seminar Group. This common reader will serve as an anchor for the threads, class discussion and writing assignments.

About All FWS Courses

  • All first-semester Cottey students participate in FWS to introduce you to Cottey, development a sense of identify and connect with the campus community.
  • FWS cources are taught by faculty from across various disciplines – Writing, International Relations, Music, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Leadership and Sociology to name a few.
  • All sections of FWS will cover the same course material on the topics of Cottey history, women’s leadership, social responsibility and global awareness. Sections will read the same common reader each year and the same small reading assignments.
  • Classes are a mixture of discussion, lecture and experiential learning.
  • Course material and major writing assignments will be presented in the same sequence/order each semester.
  • All major writing assignments (of which there are four) will be the same across all sections of FWS.

Individual instructors will have freedom in terms of daily work/in-class work with readings as well as freedom over informal writing assignments (in-class writing, journals, reflections, etc.).

Fall 2019 Instructors

  • Dr. Jonathan Green, Writing
  • Dr. Peter Hyland, Physics and Astronomy
  • Dr. Sarah Polo, Writing
  • Dr. Sarah Quick, Anthropology and Sociology
  • Dr. Oindrila Roy, International Relations
  • Professor Sushil Sivaram, Writing
  • Professor Kathy Taylor, Computer Science


  • FWS 101 is not an orientation or experience class to help you learn “how to do college.” While you may learn skills to help you succeed in college, these skills, like time management and study habits, are not the focus on this course.
  • FWS 101 is not a busy-work or blow-off course. This is an academic seminar course worth three credits, which also fulfills a writing requirement for Cottey. View this class as you would any other college-level course.
  • FWS is not a “Cottey culture class.” While values important to the College are the content behind the course, this course is a writing course. Cottey culture and values are simply the content you will read and write about.
  • FWS 101 is not an English class. This course counts for a writing requirement, but the FWS designation doesn’t not belong to a department or major, making this class unique. Additionally, this class is taught by faculty across multiple disciplines to help expose you  to the variety and importance of writing beyond English courses. You can absolutely expect reading and writing assignments.

We’d Love to Hear From You