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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Issues with the English 101 requirement


A satire on academic discourse and high expectations

Freshman year—it’s a time of new sights, sounds, friends and a whirlwind of new opportunities. It can be a confusing and chaotic time for most, but we all embrace that mentality and look back with fond memories of how naive we were.

Therefore, St. Joe’s should do everything in its power to make this hectic transition as seamless as possible for bright-eyed first year students.

I propose to St. Joe’s a remedy to some of the first year students’ commotion: cut the mandatory English 101 credit and build students up to that course with a comprehensive pre-requisite English curriculum.

How can we expect first-year students to be prepared for English 101 and to have an understanding of intense academic discourse when we have no idea if these students have completed the first 100 levels of English (English 1 – English 100)?

We expect students to handle the challenges of literary analysis and understand the nuances of rhetoric, but what if a student never learned how to form complete sentences because they failed their English 23 class?

While we are at it, what if they never learned how to form basic phonemic noises with their vocal cords as we all learned in our English 1 class? I propose that there should be a system in place to address that some students may not be ready for the new difficulties of a college-level class.

Similar to already existing placement tests this school has for math and language courses, the school should design a 100 test system in order to test a student’s knowledge of fundamental English concepts from the alphabet to punctuation in order to assess their competence for college level English 101.

ILLUSTRATION: Kaitlyn Patterson ’20

Some students may easily breeze through all 100 placement tests in a measly 16 hours if they are confident in their literary abilities. However, students that are less confident should fear not.

The school system can create 100 new courses to teach English curriculum, which would enrich students, as well as create job opportunities for more English professors. A win-win for all.

Some may find this program to be condescending to new first-year students, but I do not think there is anything wrong in innocence until proven guilty regarding their knowledge of the English language. It is merely a safety measure to ensure that students and educators are on the same page in class (no pun intended).

After all, a professor can be confident in a student’s ability if they see a clear record of their passing of the English 97 placement test, the notorious “Advanced Semicolon and Theoretical Box-Bracket Analysis and Applied Usage” course.

I already hear some of you groaning over having to take English 58’s brutal “Gerund and Participle Quantification in Biblical Astrophysics” course, but do you really want to hand in an English 101 paper without a solid grasp of infinitives?

Love it or hate it, this is something that will ensure the growth and prosperity of students throughout their time here at St. Joe’s.

Who knows, it may even make some students appreciate the English curriculum more if they finally get the proper context they need to understand things they may have missed if they opted out of their high school English 19 “Irony, Subtext, Classical Literature, Poetry, The Human Will to Endure Endless Amounts of Prose, and Shakespeare” class.

This program will just be one more step to ensure St. Joe’s goal of a holistic educational experience for first-year students by giving them the tools they need to succeed.

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