English 101

Welcome to English 101–sometimes called freshman English or college composition. It’s the one course that almost every first-year student in every American college and university is required to take. And it should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding courses in your college life.

But to succeed in anything, it helps to be prepared.

1. Know Your Writing Handbook–and Use It

Many instructors of freshman English assign two textbooks: a reader (that is, a collection of essays or literary works) and a writing handbook. Early in the term, make friends with the handbook: it can answer most of your questions about planning, drafting, revising, and editing an essay.

Open your handbook to the section titled “How to Use This Book.” Find out how to locate information by using menus and checklists (usually printed on the inside covers) along with the book’s index and table of contents. Also find the glossary of usage and the guides to documentation (both are usually near the back).

After you have spent 10 to 15 minutes learning how to find information in the handbook, you’re ready to put the book to use–not only when you’re editing your work but also when you’re trying to focus a topic, organize a paragraph, or revise an essay. Your handbook should soon become a dependable reference work, one that you’ll want to hold on to after you’ve passed this composition course.