Undergraduate Writing Classes

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Hoosier15
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Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Hoosier15 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:09 am

I'm a soon-to-be college freshman and I'm seriously considering pursuing a law degree after college. Obviously I still have a lot of time before I need to make a decision, but seeing as it's a goal of mine I figure I better start preparing now. My question pertains to the writing aspect of law in general and law school admissions. From my understanding, legal writing is significantly different than the writing I've done in high school English classes (i.e. literary analysis, poetry, etc.). However, I don't know what type of writing classes I should take in college to prepare myself for law school. I'm generally very articulate and can convey an idea pretty well, but creative writing has never been my strong suit. It just seems to me that my ability to write a Haiku or do a character analysis of Grapes of Wrath doesn't pertain to my success as a lawyer. My question is, what type of writing classes should I consider taking in college to improve my writing ability for law school and law school admissions?

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Hawkeye Pierce
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Hawkeye Pierce » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:04 am

Disclaimer: I'm an 0L.

I don't think there's any specific writing course you need to or ought to take. I took exactly one English course during college (English composition -- required for university graduation requirements). That being said, I do believe that being a philosophy major did help my writing. It helped me write essays without all the fluff. I learned how to develop a logical argument and describe it succinctly. That does not mean, however, that I recommend you pursue the same major; you should pursue whatever you find most interesting.

When I read so many of my friends' essays (most of them find themselves in the political "science" department), I'm amazed at how poorly they write. I think that so many departments (at least at my university) fail to teach kids how to write well (or for that matter, think logically).

Another suggestion I have is to: (1) read a lot (this will improve your writing) and (2) edit other peoples' essays.

Edit: Number (2) does presuppose you have some sort of knowledge of how to write. Nevertheless, I see editing as a way of teaching and thus as a way of improving your own abilities.
Last edited by Hawkeye Pierce on Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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thesealocust
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:08 am

Hoosier15 wrote:I'm a soon-to-be college freshman and I'm seriously considering pursuing a law degree after college. Obviously I still have a lot of time before I need to make a decision, but seeing as it's a goal of mine I figure I better start preparing now. My question pertains to the writing aspect of law in general and law school admissions. From my understanding, legal writing is significantly different than the writing I've done in high school English classes (i.e. literary analysis, poetry, etc.). However, I don't know what type of writing classes I should take in college to prepare myself for law school. I'm generally very articulate and can convey an idea pretty well, but creative writing has never been my strong suit. It just seems to me that my ability to write a Haiku or do a character analysis of Grapes of Wrath doesn't pertain to my success as a lawyer. My question is, what type of writing classes should I consider taking in college to improve my writing ability for law school and law school admissions?


Coming from a 3rd year law student: None of this matters. Do anything you want in undergrad, wind up with a decent GPA, take the LSAT, boom - you're on your way to being a lawyer.

There is literally nothing you can or should do in college to help, other than drinking and sex.

To that end, I humbly request you shut down your TLS account and go drink and have a lot of sex. We'll be here in 3 years when you need us.

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Hawkeye Pierce
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Hawkeye Pierce » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:10 am

thesealocust wrote:Coming from a 3rd year law student: None of this matters. Do anything you want in undergrad, wind up with a decent GPA, take the LSAT, boom - you're on your way to being a lawyer.

There is literally nothing you can or should do in college to help, other than drinking and sex.

To that end, I humbly request you shut down your TLS account and go drink and have a lot of sex. We'll be here in 3 years when you need us.


I agree with this wholeheartedly. Get good grades and have fun. Don't worry about law school for a couple more years.

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Wade LeBosh
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Wade LeBosh » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:29 am

My suggestion would be to take the College Composition CLEP (if your school accepts it of course). College writing courses don't teach you anything. Just pick a newspaper and start reading it everyday. That will teach you more than any non-fiction writing class could.

I would however suggest taking a formal or informal logic course sometime before you begin preparing for the LSAT.

lawyerwannabe
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby lawyerwannabe » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:52 pm

Wade LeBosh wrote:My suggestion would be to take the College Composition CLEP (if your school accepts it of course). College writing courses don't teach you anything. Just pick a newspaper and start reading it everyday. That will teach you more than any non-fiction writing class could.

I would however suggest taking a formal or informal logic course sometime before you begin preparing for the LSAT.


Having a philosophy minor definitely helped when prepping for the LSAT because I already knew formal logic, but taking a formal logic class in advance of the LSAT is far from necessary.

OP: you just started college; please do not already be thinking about law school!

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FantasticMrFox
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby FantasticMrFox » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:35 pm

Don't worry about creative writing skills-they won't even help you in UG unless you take fiction-writing classes.

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Moxie
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Moxie » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:41 pm

Hawkeye Pierce wrote:To that end, I humbly request you shut down your TLS account and go drink and have a lot of sex. We'll be here in 3 years when you need us.


I agree with this wholeheartedly. Get good grades and have fun. Don't worry about law school for a couple more years.[/quote]

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Wade LeBosh
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Wade LeBosh » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:33 pm

lawyerwannabe wrote:
Wade LeBosh wrote:My suggestion would be to take the College Composition CLEP (if your school accepts it of course). College writing courses don't teach you anything. Just pick a newspaper and start reading it everyday. That will teach you more than any non-fiction writing class could.

I would however suggest taking a formal or informal logic course sometime before you begin preparing for the LSAT.


Having a philosophy minor definitely helped when prepping for the LSAT because I already knew formal logic, but taking a formal logic class in advance of the LSAT is far from necessary.

OP: you just started college; please do not already be thinking about law school!


I had no background in philosophy or "formal" logic before prepping for the LSAT. I bought my school's Introduction to Logic textbook and it helped me immensely. I didn't say taking the class was necessary, but if OP is looking for classes to take, Logic would be far more valuable than a college writing class.

bhan87
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby bhan87 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:41 pm

I think undergraduate "writing" classes typically are pretty useless... I don't really get how you can "teach" a writing class. I suppose you could be a stickler for citations, assign essays, and such. But, I found that Liberal Arts courses (Philosophy, poli sci, etc) that assign term papers with professors actually willing to give you detailed feedback to be far more educational in regards to writing. However, I don't think you should be all that worried about this. Depending on your major, you WILL encounter essays you have to write in college, so you will get a pretty good amount of practice (unless you go out of your way to avoid these classes).

Some posters above mentioned logic courses. If they're not GPA killers I totally recommend doing them. Though a lot of the material will not be directly useful to the LSAT, one thing logic courses do very well is get straight in your mind what IS and ISN'T a logically valid argument. That mentality will speed things up when you start your LSAT prep.

All in all, get off these boards, enjoy undergrad, and rack up these A's. Come back in 2-3 years with your 4.0 GPA to get advice on getting a 170+ LSAT.

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Heartford
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:43 pm

I agree with the sentiment that OP should spend most of undergrad articulating his/her way into a bottle, and then someone's pants.

That said, OP, law school writing is much closer to the drier, more analytical writing you'll encounter in history, psychology, philosophy, even hard sciences. Time wouldn't be wasted training yourself to dissect something and examine it from every angle. English/creative writing classes are probably not the best prep for law school.

Now go outside and get in trouble, while you're still young enough to make mistakes.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:56 pm

(standard "I'm just a 0L caveat)
I took several different writing classes in UG: technical writing, fiction writing, writing for business, writing for advertising, and copyediting. None of them made me a better writer except for copyediting, which definitely honed my grammar Nazi skills.

Fiction writing was by far the most useless, as we spent more time peer-editing our classmates' truly awful short stories than getting any real feedback from someone who knew what they were doing. Technical writing and the business-related ones were ok, in that they were more concerned with imparting factual information in a precise way than 'setting the scene' or creating 'mood.' I imagine that the technical style of writing is closer to what I'll need to learn in law school.

But the absolute best way to become a better writer is to read everything you can get your hands on.

bp shinners
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Re: Undergraduate Writing Classes

Postby bp shinners » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:00 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:Fiction writing was by far the most useless, as we spent more time peer-editing our classmates' truly awful short stories than getting any real feedback from someone who knew what they were doing.


I think you vastly underestimate how much editing someone else's work can help you develop your own skills as a writer. It's a lot easier to see bad habits in the work of others than it is to see it in your own writing (since you know what you mean to convey).

That being said, OP, have fun in undergrad. Take classes that interest you - unless you only take fluff courses, or hard science courses, you'll have enough practice with writing to only embarrass yourself as much as any other 1L when you get to law school and are taught how to write properly in a legal context.




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