Stetson University

College of Arts and Sciences

First Year English

The First Year English courses at Stetson are set up so that every student, no matter their level of preparation, acquires the writing skills necessary for academic success. It is our firm belief that expert teachers of literature are very well equipped to teach writing, both analytical and argumentative, and hence every member of our distinguished faculty teaches in the First Year English program under the guidance of the Director of First Year English. Years of literary analysis and our own writing and research give us a substantial body of knowledge about effective writing.

The Practical Details: Advisor and Student FAQ

How much English do I need to take?
Stetson students are required to successfully complete 6 of the 9 hours of First Year English. Thus, for example, students taking EH 111 go on to take EH 121; students in EH 121 go on to take EH 131. First Year English courses must be taken sequentially--no student may take EH 121 and then go on to take EH 111, or take EH 131 and subsequently take EH 121. Stetson policy is that students must remain continually enrolled in First Year English courses until they have completed the requirements. In other words, students may not skip a semester of FYE.

Can I take EH 111? It looks easier.
Students must be PLACED in EH 111 based on various criteria; students may not opt to enroll in the course. Contact the Director of First Year English at for additional information about EH 111 placement.

What about my AP or IB credits?
AP and IB scores are often high enough to warrant exemptions from EH 121 and EH 131. Consult the Director of First Year English for the particulars.

Can I try to test out of EH 121 or EH 131?
At the beginning of every semester, the First Year English Program offers exemption examinations. Students hoping for an exemption from EH 121 take a two part exam: the first part is objective (comprehension and grammar understanding), and students doing very well on this part are invited to take the next part, an essay written under timed conditions and then read by at least two faculty members, who decide whether the student has demonstrated the skills we expect from students when they leave EH 121. This decision is final, and so students are expected to remain enrolled in their EH 121 courses until they are notified that they have passed the exams.
Students attempting to test out of EH 131 are given an essay examination in which they read a specific piece of literature (essay, poem, short story) and respond to it in critically interpretative ways. These essays are read by at least two faculty who decide whether the student has demonstrated mastery of the materials. These results are also final, and the same warning applies: students should remain enrolled in their EH 131 course unless notified differently.

What about grading?
The faculty of the English Department have high standards for academic writing, and we try to pass those standards on to our EH 111, 121, and 131 students. What many freshmen do not understand or are not prepared for is the rigor with which academic writing is graded; while many entering students have consistently earned As in their previous writing courses, freshmen are often shocked to see that those writing skills are considered average by Stetson faculty. We believe in maintaining grade ethics: we will not inflate a course grade over and above the student's actual achievement, and we will not give grades of B and A without warrant.

In general, A writing is characterized by absolute clarity and original thought. No essay earns an A if it is not outstanding, academically challenging, and excellent. As are NOT awarded for completing the assignment or for working hard; while we appreciate effort, superior grades are not guaranteed by such. Rather, As are awarded for rich and full detail, adroit transitions and effective arrangement, successful and vivid development and use of the individual voice, and quality of thought, expressed in high quality prose.
In general, B writing is characterized by above average achievement. An essay earning a B is one that demonstrates most of the qualities of average writing, illuminated in some spots by evidence of excellence: for instance, while organization may be sound throughout the essay, a superb introduction and conclusion might reflect "above average" skill in this area. Few mechanical errors are present. A B essay is often considered a C essay with some extra "good stuff"--style, voice, humor, and so on.
In general, C writing is average and expected writing. The essay has no particular lacks or weaknesses, but neither does it demonstrate excellence. Organization is coherent if slightly inconsistent, use of evidence is often limited to one or two kinds, and the essay sounds somewhat anonymous. Mechanical errors are present but not intrusive. Most students are average writers when they enter Stetson.
In general, D writing falls below the average mark in two ways: meeting the assignment and mechanical proficiency. Writing that is off topic, doesn't address the assignment, or ignores one or more elements of the assignment is below average; mechanical errors that interfere with the reading process are clearly below average. Incomplete essays, or essays that do not get revised, are often D level essays that could be raised to C essays with substantial work.

I have a problem with my FYE teacher. What do I do now?
This can be a touchy situation. Students should first attempt to resolve the problem with the teacher, but if that doesn't work, students should contact Dr. Megan O'Neill, the Director of First Year English, at x7722. If the problem is not resolved at this level, students should contact the Chair of the English Department, John Pearson. The majority of problems are solved by this point, but should they continue, and Dr. O'Neill, Dr Pearson, and the teacher in question cannot reach an understanding, all parties should take the problem to Dean Ballenger (Arts & Sciences) for resolution.

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