Fall 2023

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Welcome to English Composition (English 201A)

I'm Colleen Harmon. You can meet me and learn more about why 201A is an important course in the 30-second video below.

Completely online English 201A. Enroll in either CRN 73314 or 73402.

This course is semester-length, beginning 14 August 2023 and ending 15 December 2023.

Each week, you'll write, whether that's a couple of sentences, a paragraph, or an essay. You won't start out writing essays, though; that comes a bit later. Using this approach, you'll be building on your previous writing, extending it into longer explorations and support of your ideas.

This course is entirely online. There are no mandatory meetings.

Interested in what others say about the course? Read on.

Advice from former students to future students

"The brainstorming process will probably take just as long as the writing process and the more brainstorming and organizational planning you do beforehand, the easier it will be to write the paper."

"I would like to say that this course possesses an amazing way of leading students to dive into deep research." 

"I would say it's very informative and gives you all the tools you need to succeed if you're willing to put in the work."

"This course was very fun. I would try to absorb all the information you can and get invested into the learning."

"The creativity worked very well for me and the options that were able to choose from. I really enjoyed this class."

"The fact that we built on previous assignments and you get extensive feedback which makes it easier to improve as the class goes on. Get high quality sources throughout the course to refer back to when it's time to write your final paper."

"Read the feedback on assignments because it helps you improve."

The theme is the "American Dream"

Our theme for the course--that is, the main topic you'll be exploring--is the American dream. 

You'll look at it from various angles, including your own expectations and assumptions about what it is and what it means. All of your writing and research will deal with one or more aspects of this topic. 

You'll support your ideas with research, explanations, comparisons and contrasts, and different texts like articles, videos, music, and art. 

Photo of a sculpture showing the heads of two people talking to each other.

Curious about effective ways to get your point across or to suss out someone else's point?

You'll learn more about crafting a strong opinion supported by evidence. What's more, you'll strengthen your skills in analyzing other people's opinions so you can home in on their main point, characterize where they're coming from, and evaluate how well they make their point.

What makes one person more believable than someone else? 

You got this! Bring your ideas about what makes a particular person or idea more credible than another. Plus, learn more about evaluating various avenues of information, including popular media. 

This course is completely online

And there are no books to buy!. You'll have access to the course and all handouts in Canvas at cuesta.instructure.com.

There are no online lecture sessions like the kind you may have been required to attend during the past couple of years. You'll have opportunities to meet online with your peers and me to ask questions and collaborate, and you'll be able to ask questions and collaborate using Pronto (a messaging app), discussion forums, and other online features of Canvas, too. 

The course builds on the skills you have now. You'll find that whatever your college writing skills are now, they'll be stronger by the end of the course, and you can proceed with confidence to your next college class knowing how to make writing essays easier and more effective. Bonus, you'll have plenty of support and feedback to guide you through the course so you can make the best of your learning opportunities. The course is designed to start with smaller steps and then to build on those steps weekly. There are plenty of practice activities where you're encouraged to explore your skills before tackling essays.

No required textbook

There are no required texts to buy! 

All the handouts, media, and texts you'll need are provided in the course, except for material you'll locate as part of your research effort. You have online access to the Cuesta Library to perform research as well as the option of visiting the library.

To enroll in the course, visit Class FinderLinks to an external site. to view the sections associated with the CRNs above.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion are valued

Photo of Cuesta students working together at a table.
Photo of Cuesta students collaborating on a project.

I’ve designed this course to be a welcoming environment where you can exchange ideas freely with your peers and me, where each person is respected and their perspective is valued. The strength of the course lies in the diversity of you, the students. You are a member of a learning community where everyone can participate and gain support from each other no matter their background or skill set. 

In addition, you'll have opportunities to learn more about diverse perspectives regarding key topics and issues throughout the course. Curiosity is the key!

Contact Me

The best way to contact me is to use the Canvas Inbox, which in a browser looks like a letter being dropped in a mailbox:: Canvas Inbox icon 
In the Canvas Inbox, click the pencil icon Canvas Inbox Pencil Icon to compose and send an email to me. I will generally respond to your emails within 24 hours on weekdays.

You can also message me in Pronto. 

If you're not in Canvas, you can also reach me by Cuesta email at colleen_harmon@cuesta.edu.

College policies

For college policies about adding and dropping a class and student conduct, check out PoliciesLinks to an external site.

Ask other questions or get help

The Student Success CenterLinks to an external site. can assist with questions about tutoring, borrowing a laptop, emergency funding, etc. 

Financial AidLinks to an external site. is chock-a-block with information to help finance your education.

And for questions or help with housing or food or to join a great club, check out Student LifeLinks to an external site..

And remember, I'm interested in your success. So please reach out to me with any thoughts, concerns, or questions. Message me in Pronto or using the Canvas Inbox.

This and more in English Composition

This is just a taste of what the course is like. Let me know if you have any questions about it.

And remember, no matter where you're headed career-wise or in life, the skills you strengthen in English Composition will serve you well. 

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