Briefing From the Writing Center

I think that making English 100 pass/fail in the Fall Term is a really good idea for several reasons. Making it pass/fail lessens the anxiety and fear that some Juniors have during their first term at Andover. By making it pass/fail, juniors don’t have to worry as much about their grade. Andover is particularly good at acclimating incoming Juniors to the boarding school environment and this is another example of how they do this. Secondly and more importantly, as a tutor in the writing center, I have noticed that the Junior class, more so than any other, has the broadest range of writing abilities. There are obviously some Juniors who have had more experience writing than others. It doesn’t make sense for English teachers to grade writing assignments during the Fall Term of Junior year because some Juniors start with an advantage. After fall term, however, the range of writing ability among Juniors diminishes, thereby preventing any one student from having an inherent advantage over the others. I don’t think it would make sense to extend the same policy to other departments just because there isn’t as broad of a range in other academic areas, as there is in English. In biology, for example, it does not necessarily help to have previously taken a science class, unless of course it was biology. In addition, in math students are divided into classes based on skill level. Thus, in both math and science, Juniors are on more equal footing with the other students in their class than in English. The only way to get better at writing is to write more papers. Thus, there will always be some Juniors better at writing than others. As a member of the writing center, I have not seen any differences in the way Juniors approach their assignments and I didn’t expect to see any.