Why Are There No Writing Programs at LC?

Gail Harper


Lewis and Clark Community College offers a multitude of programs—welding technology, paralegal, graphic design, music performance, and our infamous nursing program, to name a few. In fact, within the next five years, LC will be implementing a four-year nursing degree (which President Dale Chapman has been working on for at least four years). Robin Halemeyer of the nursing program said, “We are one of two colleges to pilot the program…the other is in Chicago. We will still offer ADN, but will also offer a BSN at a community college. That’s huge!”

Among all these options, however, a writing program is nowhere to be found. Students interested in a writing degree have a few options at LC: creative writing (ENGL-261), and working for The Bridge (we’re hiring!). But what if a student wants more?

To Terri Hilgendorf, an instructor in the English department, it all comes down to student interest. “The system goes back to student choices,” Hilgendorf said in a recent interview, referring to the school’s lack of a writing program. A lot of students would rather take an art or music class because they believe there will be less reading or writing than a lit class.

Hilgendorf explained that each course has a PCS code: classes with code 1.1 are transferable, 1.2 are not. A lot of writing classes at LC have a 1.2 code, and whether you like it or not, most students take the classes that seem like they’ll have the lowest work-load to fulfill their degree. It’s also possible that financial aid doesn’t pay for classes that don’t fit into degree requirements.

Being a community college, LC just can’t offer some classes. “We are limited to 100 and 200 level courses. The next creative writing course would be a 300…we’re a community college and we don’t have 300 level courses” Hilgendorf said.

“This is not a Mecca for the arts.” “We used to have an acting class, but it never made…so it’s gone” Hilgendorf said. LC also offers a poetry class, but it rarely (if ever) gets enough enrollment to make the cut, so it’s on the chopping block as well.

Although, Hilgendorf mentioned an alternative for students interested in a degree in writing—the 2+2 program through SIUE. Through the coupling of classes from SIUE and LCCC, a student can receive a Bachelor in Art Degree over the course of 4 years.

There are a few options here for students interested in writing, but not many. The fault is not that of the teachers—a fact that Terri Hilgendorf noted is important. If you are interested in more writing or journalism classes, talk to a professor here on campus. They’d be more than willing to help.

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