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First-Year Students

The Directed Self-Placement for Writing (DSP) gives you a chance to learn about the types of academic writing most often assigned and valued at the University of Michigan. The DSP will help you judge your own readiness for and comfort with college writing, and assist you in choosing your writing courses at the University.

Who has to complete the Directed Self-Placement for Writing?

  • First-year students in LSA, Stamps School of Art & Design, Kinesiology, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, Nursing, and Ross Business School are required to complete the First-Year DSP.
  • First-year students in LSA Honors and Engineering are exempt from the First-Year DSP
  • Transfer students who have not completed a Sweetland-approved First-Year Writing Requirement course at their previous college or university are required to complete the First-Year DSP.

Completing the First-Year Directed Self-Placement for Writing

The Directed Self-Placement must submitted at least 5 BUSINESS DAYS (Monday through Friday) prior to the start of your orientation. If you fail to meet this deadline, you will receive little guidance in selecting your first writing course, and you will also be given a date by which you need to complete the DSP after Orientation. Students who do not complete the DSP by the assigned date may lose their seat in your first writing course at U-M.

  • Find a time during which you can devote several hours to reading the article, drafting and revising your essay, and answering the survey questions. Students who have completed the DSP report that it takes an average of two hours to complete a draft, which does not include time to revise. Of course some students take longer and some finish more quickly.
  • Take the essay and the questions seriously, so that you can make an informed choice about your first writing course at the University of Michigan. 
  • The DSP is not timed. If you choose to exit, your work will be saved and you may continue at a later date.

After completing the First-Year Directed Self-Placement for Writing

When you meet with your advisor during Orientation, you will consider your experience completing the DSP essay and questions, as well as your prior writing experiences. Based on these considerations, you will choose a writing course that will enable you to become more proficient and confident in academic writing. More information on choosing your first writing course can be found on our Deciding which Writing Course to Take page.

Once you have registered for your first writing course, your course instructor will read your DSP essay to familiarize him- or herself with your writing.

Need a copy of your Directed Self-Placement essay?

If for any reason you would like a copy of your DSP essay, you can email sweetlandinfo@umich.edu.