As you prepare for your first year at CSU Channel Islands, we ask you to consider your options for first year writing. We call this process Directed Self-Placement  because it is up to you which path you choose.

What are my options for first year writing at CSUCI?

Students have two options for completing their first year writing requirement at CSUCI. In making your choice, please reflect on the statements below. Which  statements most closely describe your readiness for college writing and research?

Column AColumn B
I’m an average reader and writer.I’m a strong reader and writer.
I prefer beginning with narrative writing.I am ready to begin with a documented research paper.
I want to learn more about revising.I know how to use feedback to revise.
I am not very confident giving advice to other writers.I feel comfortable giving feedback to other writers.
I would prefer a steady pace with time to work on my writing skills.I feel ready to take on a quicker pace.
I could use help using the library to do research.I have solid library and research skills.

If you find nearly all the statements  Column A fit you, then you will likely feel more comfortable enrolling in our popular English 102 course in the fall.  About two-thirds of incoming students pursue this option.

If Column B more closely describes you, then you may wish to enroll in our English 105 course (offered in both fall and spring).

English 102: Stretch Composition I

English 102 helps students bridge the gap from high school to college writing. This 3-unit elective course focuses on helping students develop strategies for using writing as a tool for thinking and learning.

Students learn that writing involves a number of thinking and writing strategies, including invention, prewriting, drafting, peer review, revising, and editing. Classes typically begin with narrative/reflective writing assignments and progress to limited kinds of research. 

Successful completion of English 102 in the fall prepares students to enroll in English 105 in the spring to fulfill the General Education Requirement for English Writing (A-2). Students who pass English 102 in the fall will be given priority enrollment for a spring English 105 course with their same instructor and classmates.

English 105: Composition & Rhetoric I

English 105 moves immediately into college level writing and research. This 3-unit course fulfills the General Education Requirement for English Writing (A-2).

English 105 focuses on integrating research into argumentative and persuasive writing. The first assignment is typically a researched paper on the course theme (selected by the class instructor), and the pace is demanding throughout the semester. Students are required to complete at least two major research projects.

This is an intensive, fast-paced course, and students must complete it with a grade of C- or higher to meet graduation requirements.

Which option should I choose?

That’s entirely up to you.

English 102 will probably be the best place to start if you could use more time to develop an effective writing and research process, become accustomed to sharing your writing with others, gain confidence giving feedback to your peers, and learn to use feedback to revise and improve your writing.

If, on the other hand, you feel ready to take on college level writing and research, are comfortable sharing your writing with others, are confident with giving feedback to your peers, and know how to use feedback to revise and improve your writing, you are likely ready to move immediately into English 105.

Learning Communities

Several of our first year composition courses are linked with other courses at the University. We use the term “learning community” to describe a group of students who are enrolled in more than one class together in the same semester. Incoming students who participate in learning communities at CSUCI develop stronger connections to the campus community and have a greater chance of succeeding at the University.

What if I have already completed my first year writing requirement?

Some students may have fulfilled their first year writing requirement via Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate  (IB) exam credit or a college course. If you have already fulfilled your General Education Requirement for English Writing (A-2), you may wish to enroll in our  Advanced Composition course, English 107. This course may be taken to  fulfill the General Education Requirement for  Critical Thinking (A-3). The course is designed for students who are already comfortable with college level writing and research and are looking to take their writing to the next level. Please check CSUCI's Transfer Credit Information page for details on how transfer credit works.

Where can I get more information?

For questions about your options for first year writing at CSUCI, please email Dr. Stacey Anderson, Composition Director, at

Whichever option you choose, you will benefit from a dedicated and experienced faculty team who are experts in the challenges facing first year college writers; you will receive ample, ongoing feedback on your writing in a small class of no more than 20 students; and you will earn credit towards your degree (either 3 or 6 units) as you become more confident and capable as a writer and researcher.


First Year Writing @ CSUCI: The Choice is Yours!