Student and mentor reviewing a paper in front of a computer

Is ENGL 201 a Better Option for Me?

The Writing Center

In lieu of submitting a Writing Proficiency Portfolio (WPP), students can enroll and pass with a C or better English 201.  Passing this course with a C will satisfy the general education writing proficiency requirement.

ENGL 201: Writing in the University is a course designed to reinforce writing and research skills introduced in English 101 and 102, as well as some other introductory courses in your major. Specifically, as the USC Aiken Academic Bulletin states, “This course presents a comprehensive review of composition, focusing on clarity of purpose, quality of thought, synthesis of research, attribution/documentation of sources, precision in organization, language/style, and grammar/mechanics. Students who complete the course with a grade of C or better will satisfy the Writing Proficiency Portfolio requirement.”

English 201 adheres to several important objectives: overall, students will be expected to learn how to improve analytical reading and writing skills required in all disciplines. In addition, students will demonstrate this improvement through expository, critical, and scholarly essays (with an emphasis on research).

Other goals include: 

1. Reading: Students will demonstrate an understanding of various types of academic prose at the levels of content, analysis, interpretation, and integration. 

2. Writing: Students will demonstrate the following skills:

  • Clarity of purpose – the ability to establish a clear purpose (thesis or announced intent) and an appropriate awareness of audience (reader).
  • Quality of thought – a level of rational thought that recognizes and examines complexity of ideas and is supported by credible and logical evidence.
  • Effective organization of content – unity and coherence and the effective arrangement of content, all in the appropriate support of purpose.
  • Synthesis and integration of sources – the effective use of sources presented clearly and concisely so as to examine, compare, and evaluate various claims, findings, and arguments.
  • Attribution and documentation – the clearly purposeful use of sources and the ability to track source material through textual and works cited comparisons.
  • Language and style – the ability to make stylistic choices in vocabulary, diction, and syntax.
  • Grammar and mechanics – a competence in grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.


English 201 is offered as a traditional course and as an online one. The traditional version promises the advantage of in-class interactions, including discussion and workshops. For students who benefit from direct peer critiques and sharing of drafts, it may benefit them to take the traditional classroom-based 201. The online version works best for self-starters, students ambitious enough to work largely independent of peer feedback. While the online version may appear to be a convenient option for many, the objectives and assignments are primarily the same as a traditional version.

Students should submit the WPP or take ENGL 201 in their junior year and not wait until they are seniors. 

Please check with your advisor to see if the writing proficiency requirement is a prerequisite for any courses in your program of study. It is a good idea to complete this requirement in your junior year to help minimize registration problems that may occur if your wait.

Please note the following stipulations:

  • Once you have attempted English 201 up to the drop date, you are ineligible to submit a Writing Proficiency Portfolio. If unable to pass the course after that point, you have to retake English 201.
  • If you attempt to pass the online version of English 201 and do not pass, it is highly recommended that you retake the course as a traditional one, if you can.

ENGL 201: Writing in the University—Self-Assessment Checklist

If you cannot check three out of the five statements below, then English 201 may be a good option for you.

  • I took English 101/102 at USC Aiken.
  • I have a collection of 5-6 essays/papers to choose from.
  • I have taken a writing course within the past two years.
  • I have taken a writing course in my major.
  • I have never been cited for plagiarism.