On Oct. 21, a group of students gathered in the Reading Room at the Miller Learning Center to spend a Saturday writing. With a grant awarded by the Parents Leadership Council, English department faculty and writing program administrators Elizabeth Davis, Lindsey Harding and Sara Steger coordinated a writing retreat open to all UGA undergraduate students. According to one participant, it “was an awesome event” and “more people need to know about it.”
The retreat offered students full- or half-day sessions to learn from and work with graduate student writing mentors Joe Seale, a doctoral candidate in the Creative Writing Program, and Matt Bloodgood, a doctoral candidate in chemistry and a Writing Intensive Program teaching assistant.
Students could sign up for one-on-one consultations and attend a series of six breakout sessions throughout the day. Bloodgood and Seale developed breakout sessions to help students “level up” their writing skills and focused on topics ranging from creating tables and figures to working with sources.
For students, the retreat offered the opportunity to advance current writing assignments and research projects in a quiet and comfortable place, apart from their typical weekend life. Attendees worked on essays, research articles, philosophy arguments, personal statements, application essays, literary analyses and creative writing projects.
According to one participant, “I loved being able to focus on writing without any distractions.” Another student reflected, “[I]t was a great environment to get work done with other productive people.”
Students attended the retreat from 14 departments across campus, including physics and astronomy, kinesiology, English, theatre and film studies, psychology, philosophy, educational theory and practice and the College of Environment and Design.
“It was particularly exciting to see undergraduates writing in so many diverse programs of study,” said Harding, director of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Writing Intensive Program. “Writing is the lifeblood of learning. It’s how we make sense of and communicate knowledge. It was nice to see so many students united by their engagement in an activity that connects all of us here at UGA.”
Retreat coordinators and participants look forward to more undergraduate writing retreats in the future. While 95 percent of the students who completed a feedback survey expressed interest in attending again, 78 percent said they hoped for similar events at least four times a year.
“As faculty, we all know how vital writing skills are to future success in any field, so it means a lot to be able to provide our students with as many resources as we can to help them develop their writing skills,” said Davis. “We are very grateful for the PLC’s support for this initiative.”