As a bright-eyed, eager freshman at the beginning of the fall semester, I was sure that I had passed all the rites of passage to become a Princetonian. I had gone on my Community Action trip, participated in the myriad of orientation activities, and endured the line at Labyrinth Books for my first textbooks. Now, as a still bright-eyed but a bit less eager freshman in the spring semester, I realized that I have not yet passed my most important rite: my writing seminar.
For some, writing seminar is a punishment designed to annihilate our confidence in our writing capabilities. For others, it is the first class in which they learn to love writing rather than see it as drudgery. Yet, despite these varied responses, one aspect of writing seminar is constant for all Princetonians: its universality. Whether in shared suffering or fondness, writing seminar brings all of us Princetonians, diverse in our concentrations, activities, and future careers, closer.
I have been amazed by the diversity of students in my writing seminar. For example, I am the only pre-med student in my class that is otherwise composed of students with other concentrations like religion, computer science, and comparative literature. Having only taken classes dominated by pre-med students, I was unsure at first how I could relate to these students. However, as I delved into the intricacies of John Locke’s writing structure that would probably have gotten the philosopher a D at Princeton today, I began to know my fellow students. I saw not only their analyses of centuries-old writings but also their thought processes and their values that they impart into their essays. Writing seminar became a looking glass through which I could really see my classmates.
From the letter of introduction to my first draft, I probably spent more time on my writing seminar than on any of my other classes. Being the chronic procrastinator that I am, I did not take this added responsibility well. For example, the Saturday before last, I submitted my first draft due at 10 a.m at exactly 9:50 a.m. Then, I met with one of my friends and discussed how I expected more sleepless nights for my inevitably comprehensive revision. My friend told me about his struggles in his writing seminar, finding the assignments for each unit overwhelming at times. Through this commiseration about our shared procrastination, we became closer as students and friends.
Since starting my writing seminar, I have been astonished by the instant conversations and unity that can be created in these classes. From our shared experiences of taking a thirty-minute nap for five hours, to panicking two hours before the deadline with three pages still left, we forge bonds unique to Princetonians. In a campus as diverse as ours, with dozens of possible concentrations, certificates, and experiences, writing seminar acts as an anchor that connects all of us as Princetonians. Writing seminar may be a pain to many, but it remains a fundamental part of the undergraduate Princeton student experience.
Daehee Lee is a freshman from Palisades Park, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.