As a Southern California native, I find myself having to constantly justify my choice of college. When my hometown friends found out I was leaving them to study in rural Ohio, they quite understandably asked me why. For a time, I had an easy answer prepared. “Kenyon is the ‘writers’ college,’” I told them. I cited evidence: the Kenyon Review, the creative writing emphasis, alumnus John Green, etc. I thought I made a pretty good case for this little school. But now, as I’m coming to the end of my first year here and the specter of selecting fall courses looms large, I’m beginning to wonder if I made a mistake.
I chose Kenyon because I want to be a writer. I did my research: scouring the website, talking to students and alumni and attending online information sessions. Everything I found indicated that Kenyon is uniquely ripe with opportunities for the aspiring writer. The shining example that everyone pointed to is the English major’s creative writing emphasis, a supposedly exceptional program. Well, I’m calling Kenyon’s bluff.
For a school that promises ample creative writing opportunities, there are very few available. Believe me, I would know. I’ve fought tooth and nail to get into a creative writing course here, but my efforts have been to no avail. It’s a Sisyphean task. Allow me to explain.
It’s true that Kenyon offers a lot of writing courses, but this availability is deceptive. The majority of these courses are at the 300 level, and they either require or strongly recommend taking 200-level creative writing courses first. And whaddya know, 200-levels are few and far between. For example, Kenyon only offered four sections of Introduction to Fiction Writing (ENGL 200) during the spring 2023 semester, meaning there were spots for a grand total of 60 students. I repeat, 60 students. For a college with 1,600 students (and enrollment increasing every year), that’s laughably inadequate. Needless to say, despite listing all four ENGL 200 sections as my top choices during course registration, I didn’t get into any of them.
That’s not to say I haven’t been able to write. I’m writing more than I ever have. (You’re reading this in the Collegian, after all.) But I’ve had to seek out every writing opportunity myself; Kenyon hasn’t done anything to make them accessible to me. School newspapers, student-run writing clubs, poetry recitations — these are all activities you can find at any school, not special perks of the so-called “Writers’ College.” It’s frustrating and disheartening to feel like I’ve been lied to.
This issue feels especially prescient right now as Middle Path teems with prospective students and their parents. Whenever I make eye contact with one of those naive, smiling faces, I resist the urge to stop them and ask if they, like me, have been lured here by the promise of the writing program. “You’re being conned,” I want to say. “Swindled. Bamboozled. Hoodwinked, even.” Without a school-sanctioned outlet for my creative writing urges, I’ve had a lot of time to think of synonyms for scam.
Dorothy Yaqub ’26 is an opinions editor for the Collegian. She has not declared a major and is from Santa Barbara, Calif. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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