Curriculums and Careers: UGA’s Writing Certificate Program

By Zachary McCannon

I’m an English major whose twin is a Mechanical Engineering major. Besides being opposites – myself a writer and he not so much – he tells me that most engineers struggle in communicating their ideas. He also tells me that often the most terrifying parts of an engineer’s job are proposals. This is the part of the job that requires the most communication skills, which are largely unaddressed in the curriculum he’s taken.

However, many non-English Majors tend to avoid writing and English courses in their college careers. They stop after First Year Composition. These students avoid them either because they dislike writing or the belief they won’t need it. I know for a fact that my brother doesn’t enjoy English classes, but even so, he wishes he was a better writer. And the truth of the matter is that writing is an inescapable skill often looked for among job applicants but rarer than it should be, especially in a networked society such as ours. While English majors might create different kinds of writing for their careers, non-English majors still need writing skills. Fortunately, UGA is attempting to address this issue through its writing programs, particularly through the Writing Certificate Program.

As an English Major, I never felt the need to take the Program, though I won’t pretend that I don’t need writing courses (I’m taking one now, after all). But surely my degree in English would be enough for any employer to assume that I can communicate well. Unfortunately, non-English majors may not have that benefit. This is where the WCP comes into play. As a Mechanical Engineering major, my brother doesn’t have much of anything on his resume displaying writing skills in regards to the focus of his education. However, non-English majors who complete the WCP, or at least complete some of the Writing Intensive Courses that make up the bulk of the Program, can place that on their resumes, bolstering their employability. Speaking of Writing Intensive Courses, here’s an infographic of these courses for the previous year.

When I asked my brother about the importance of writing in his major, he agreed that writing is really important. To him, the appeal of the program is purely the need of communication skills enhanced by it. Engineering students are taught to apply mathematics to real-world situations, and when they graduate, they’re ready to tackle the technicalities of their jobs. But some may not be ready to pitch projects to their superiors or explain their work to potential clients. Whether or not all students would be willing to undertake the WCP, it’s important for them to know it exists as an opportunity. This is why I decided to write on the WCP for this Blog Carnival. With writing being a necessary skill in the job market, they should be aware of the Writing Certificate Program!

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