The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC students submit advanced W

Claire Valley | Friday, March 26, 2004

By now, most Saint Mary’s upperclassmen have turned in their advanced W submissions. The advanced W is the second part of the writing proficiency needed to graduate from Saint Mary’s.

Unlike larger institutions, Saint Mary’s can provide the labor intensive individual attention and feedback because of its size, said Mary Connolly, Mathematics Department chair.

The advanced W process for chemistry majors begins in the spring of junior year. With the help of an advisor, the student chooses a topic with one major reference.

“During the summer there is the option of doing research,” said Deborah McCarthy, chair of the Chemistry Department. “In the fall of senior year, she can keep the same topic or change for the research paper she will write. The paper, which is submitted at the end of the semester, can either be a literature or lab research paper.”

In mathematics, the advanced W consists of three papers.

“Sophomore year, in math courses, expository papers are written,” said Connolly. “They are then submitted to a writing committee where specific feedback is given. The student chooses one paper to polish and submit to her portfolio.”

Junior year, the same process is executed except with an analytic paper. In the student’s senior year, a 20-30 page formal paper is submitted as a result of independent research for her senior composition.

A Business major must demonstrate her writing proficiency through three papers to receive her advanced W. These papers are reviewed by the student’s academic advisor and a professor.

By submitting these papers, a student demonstrates that she can communicate with precision and style, said Jill Vihtelic, chair of the Business Administration and Economics Department.

“The advanced W at Saint Mary’s College is a step above the senior comprehensive,” said junior communications major Kara Flynn. “It is a fantastic way to improve your knowledge of your major through intense writing and understanding. Although some say it is tedious, it is the final step before you are handed the diploma.”

Other Saint Mary’s students, however, said that they believe the project should be deemphasized.

“The advanced W should be one paper instead of three, and your graduation shouldn’t depend on papers,” said junior Linney Markin.

Despite complaints voiced about the advanced W, many professors say it is a positive exercise.

“It is critical that you learn how to write in the discipline you plan on working in,” said Connolly.