1. C is a failing grade. Nothing like this revelation to induce multiple panic attacks during orientation.
2. When professors say you’ll be reading a book a week, they mean it. I had to make a schedule JUST for my assigned readings (broken down into daily page counts) to stay on top of everything.
3. Listening to a classmate read their story aloud and workshopping them on the spot is DIFFICULT. My workshop professor this semester ran class under a different format than I’m used to. Each person reads five pages of their story while everyone else takes notes and critiques them directly after they finish. I’m used to having three or four days to read over someone’s story and carefully write out my comments in a letter format. This new setup led to a lot of “Uh…um, I like this sentence…” and wasn’t always helpful. I’ve definitely learned what workshop style works for me (and what doesn’t). One positive, though, is that everyone got workshopped every week. Lots of feedback is always good!
4. Your classmates become your core group of friends. 10 of us came in as first year fiction students. We were all placed in two of the same classes, and we became a SUPER tight group. I know their writing styles and they know mine. I looked forward to hearing another piece of certain people’s longer stories each week. I knew who I could count on for an encouraging smile after my workshop and who to look at for a sympathetic eyeroll when a professor said something annoying. I was really worried I wasn’t going to make friends in my classes (creative writers are sometimes difficult to befriend, especially in past departments I’ve been a part of because of competitiveness), but I’ve found a solid group of people I adore in Pittsburgh. <3