Composition and Rhetoric at Cal Poly

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A Note from the Director of Writing,
Dr. Brenda Helmbrecht 


Welcome to Composition at Cal Poly! 

As director of Cal Poly’s Writing Program since 2004, I have worked to ensure that all students receive writing instruction that can support them throughout their educational and professional careers.  As all writers – and writing instructors – will attest: writing is a difficult and complex task that requires time and practice.  And your writing courses will be among some of the most important classes you take. 

The Rhetoric and Composition Program at Cal Poly is committed to providing students with progressive and innovative approaches to writing education.  Indeed, one of Cal Poly’s stated University Learning Objectives (ULO) is “effective communication,” which means that you will be developing and honing your writing skills throughout your Cal Poly career. 

Students often find that their college writing courses challenge them to approach writing in ways they have not attempted before.  For instance, incoming students will be asked to write essays that do not follow the five-paragraph structure or other formula-based approaches to writing.  On the other hand, upper-class students will learn the unique conventions of their chosen discipline.   Regardless of your level, you will learn to exercise control over your writing and to make rhetorically effective choices.   In other words, you will be expected to select an organizational strategy that suits you topic, to use language and punctuation that most effectively conveys your meaning, and to address an audience appropriately.  In effect, you will be asked to write with care. 

My hope is that this page will provide you with the resources you need to successfully complete your composition courses at Cal Poly.  Regardless of whether you are new to Cal Poly or are entering your final year, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to experiment with language and style; to dig deeper into your own ideas as you revise and improve your work; to dismiss the notion that you “write” best under the pressure of time constraints; and to spend time with your instructors’ carefully considered feedback.  Put simply, think of yourself as a writer. 

Dr. Brenda M. Helmbrecht
Director of Writing

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