Welcome to Directed Self-Placement at Appalachian!
The Rhetoric and Writing Studies Program at Appalachian State believes that students know best which course is the most appropriate option for beginning their college writing journeys. Along those lines, we utilize a system of Directed Self-Placement, which, rather than using timed writing prompts or test scores, emphasizes students’ control over selecting their first college-level writing course at Appalachian. Research focused on placement decisions shows us that students' own self-assessment of their writing skill is the best predictor of how they will perform in college writing courses.
Appalachian State University students enroll in a writing course all four years of their undergraduate career, progressing through the University’s vertical writing curriculum with each course. The first two years of writing courses are housed in the Rhetoric and Composition (RC) Program, within the Department of English, where students receive a solid foundation in academic writing and in writing across the curriculum. The remaining two years of writing instruction are located within students’ majors, where they learn the types of writing that are valued in their chosen disciplines. Appalachian’s Vertical Writing Curriculum ensures that each student graduates with well-developed critical thinking skills and competitive writing skills; in turn, graduates leave the University with writing experience that establishes them as professionally desirable and marketable.
Download the fully accessible PDF here.
During the first year of study, students should complete the first-year writing requirement, earning credit for RC 1000. Students have three options for satisfying this requirement. (If a student took the AP test for English Language & Composition or the IB exam, they may already have credit for RC 1000. Please check here to see if an earned score qualifies for this credit.) Most students enroll directly into RC 1000 (Expository Writing). However, some students find that they are not quite prepared for the rigors of college writing and instead elect to enroll in co-requisite writing courses, RC 1000 plus RC 2000—a one-hour course that offers additional support for students’ development of their writing abilities [to request permission to register for this course, please use this form. Lastly, students who are very confident in their writing skills and experience can elect to register and attempt the Challenge Essay.
Option 1—R_C 1000: Expository Writing
Option 2—R_C 1000 + R_C 2000:
Expository Writing PLUS Writing Lab
The Challenge Essay presents incoming students who are confident that they are advanced writers the possibility of placing out of the first-year writing course. The Challenge assignment consists of writing a 4-to-5-page, research-based argument in response to a unique assignment prompt.
The DSP Self-Inventory, combined with students’ own experiences, may help them determine that they are experienced writers who want to place out of RC 1000 by attempting the Challenge Essay. The Challenge Essay is both optional and free.
If DSP readers agree that your essay demonstrates advanced writing skills, you will pass the Challenge and satisfy the requirement for RC 1000. Passing the Challenge does not result in earning three credit hours toward graduation; however, you will be given the prerequisite credit necessary for enrolling in courses that require RC 1000 credit, such as RC 2001. Should you have questions about the Challenge Essay, email the Director of DSP, Ben Good (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Students can sign-up for one Challenge window, registering online prior to the start of the selected Challenge attempt. It is important to note that you MUST register for the Challenge before 8 a.m. on the first day of a Challenge window. Once you have submitted your online Challenge request, you will receive more information from the DSP Team via email, and one week prior to the start of the Challenge, you will be given access to the Challenge’s AsULearn site, where you will ultimately find the assignment and expectations, access the provided sources, and submit your completed essay.
2023-2024 Challenge Dates
- July 11-15 (Tues.-Sat.)
- July 25-29 (Tues.-Sat.)
- August 8-12 (Tues.-Sat.)
- August 18-22 (Fri.-Tues.)
- November 7-11 (Tues.-Sat.)
- January 9-13 (Tues.-Sat.)
Making Your Placement Decision
The decision regarding which class students choose to begin their study of writing at Appalachian is up to them. In making this academic choice, students should consider the above course information and discussions with their advisors. More than anything, though, students should reflect on and evaluate honestly their own writing abilities and confidence in their readiness for the rigors of college writing. Additionally, the DSP self-inventory could also influence this academic decision, as it produces tentative recommendations for which course might best serve them. The final decision, though, remains each student's.
If a student is still uncertain about which choice is best for them, please consider contacting the director of DSP, Ben Good, in addition to discussing this choice during advising sessions.
The DSP Team, as well as the Rhetoric and Composition faculty, look forward to working with each student as they pursue their academic goals at Appalachian.