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Weekend writing retreat bolsters undergrad productivity

Alan Flurry

Earlier this semester, during the football bye week, UGA undergraduates took to the Miller Learning Center Reading Room to write.

On Saturday, October 20, the Parents Leadership Council sponsored the second annual Undergrad Writing Retreat, a full day of students coming together to start papers, finish papers, revise, edit, and write. The event, coordinated by the Franklin College Writing Intensive Program and the Writing Certificate and Writing Fellows Programs, included graduate students from the departments of English and anthropology as writing mentors for the day, leading breakout sessions and offering one-on-one consultations with students about their writing. 28 undergraduates from a broad range of disciplines, programs, and colleges, including Early Childhood Education, Art History, Cognitive Science, Women’s Studies, Landscape Architecture, and Economics, used the time to brainstorm personal statements, finish reports, organize essays, prepare annotated bibliographies, and conduct online research.


With breakfast, lunch, snacks, coffee, and drinks provided, students could get to work and stay focused without getting distracted by hunger. Short break-out sessions were organized on topics such as applications and professional writing, scientific writing style, advanced research and library skills, and process and revision in the humanities. According to cognitive science major Jake Tassoni, “It was an awesome work environment where I could get a lot done.” 

“Seeing everyone be productive really pushed me to finish my paper finally after trying and failing to write it all that week,” said another student. For Ashley Blue, an undergraduate double major in communication studies and women’s studies, the retreat was effective both for the conversation and quiet time it afforded: “I really enjoyed talking one on one with someone and they were really helpful with organizing my thoughts and making the process not seem so daunting,” Blue said. “I spent the time researching and drafting and felt unrushed and motivated.”


In light of the 2017 Task Force on Student Learning and Success and the Task Force’s number one recommendation to enhance writing across the curriculum, the PLC Undergrad Writing Retreat presents a rich and rewarding way to support the development of students’ writing skills, writing processes, and writerly capacities beyond the curriculum, according to graduate mentor Bridget Dooley. 

“For us, that means helping students determine the unique expectations of and strategies for new genres of writing, from literature reviews to statements of purpose and resumes.” 

“The retreat helps students write with a sense of ownership over their work and practice writing skills that are transferable from the sciences to graduate school application essays,” said graduate mentor Christina Lee. 

Reporting by Lindsey Harding, Ph.D., director of the Writing Intensive Program and co-coordinator of the writing retreat.

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