Student Resources

​​​​​​Writing Assistance

DMACC's Blue Book

The new edition of The Blue Book is available. The fifth edition builds on previous editions by providing new composition students and instructors not only information about our traditional composition sequence but also information about online courses and the ALP course, Strategies for Composition (ENG 145). The Common Composition Error section has also been updated to include changes in pronoun use guidelines and article usage.

This new edition is available for online students or uploaded in computer lab classes. If face-to-face instructors would like hard copies for their composition courses, they can be ordered through DMACC's Copy Center. If you have any questions about ordering procedures or the new edition, feel free to contact Sarah Waddle, stwaddle​

DMACC Writing Labs

DMACC Writing Labs provide assistance in all parts of the writing process from generating topic ideas to drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. The Writing Labs, however, do not serve as a drop-off proofreading service but do assist students in determining their patterns of error, which enables students to become independent editors and proofreaders, a skill greatly needed for all future writing.

In addition to providing individual assistance, some of the DMACC Academic Achievement Centers present workshops designed to target specific skills, such as essay test-taking skills, sentence boundary skills, etc. The DMACC Academic Achievement Center website will list Academic Achievement Center hours, services, and workshops by specific campus.

DMACC's Academic Integrity Site

Knowing how to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and cite at a scholarly level is a skill students learn in composition and speech courses, but it is also an integral part of all college work you will complete. DMACC has created the Academic Integrity site for faculty and students to use and improve these skills. 

Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University

This online website offers much information on a variety of topics from MLA documentation, creating a thesis statement, avoiding plagiarism, to formatting business writing. Of particular value for DMACC writing students is the section called Non-Purdue Students and Instructors (see link in the left side menu). This section includes information on general academic writing, research and citation, grammar and mechanics, English as a second language, Internet literacy, and writing in the social sciences.

DMACC Library

The DMACC libraries coordinate resources for students, faculty and staff to ensure they have the resources needed to learn. Each campus offers library access interlibrary loan.

Computers and Technical Assistance

Supervised, Open Computer Labs

Most English courses require papers to be typed. If you do not have a computer at home, please feel free to make use of the supervised, open computer labs on the DMACC Campuses.

  • Ankeny Campus: Building 6 Next to the Academic Achievement Center
  • Boone Campus: South side of Library, Room 135 (enter through Library)
  • Carroll Campus: Library, Room 158, and Room 129
  • Newton Campus: Room 110A
  • Urban Campus: Building 1, Room 218
  • West Campus: Room 117W

Microsoft Office 365 

DMACC offers Office 365 through myDMACC. For more information, review the Microsoft Office for Home page.

DMACC Tech Support

DMACC Tech Support provides computer log-in assistance, help with DMACC computer issues, and problems with Canvas​. Contact the Tech Support from the link at the top-right side of the myDMACC home page or call 1-515-965-7300.

Career Opportunities for English Majors

English majors, particularly those who complete a four-year degree, have a variety of career options. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Advertising
  • Business Services
  • Creative Writer (poet, playwright)
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Editor/Proofreader
  • Educator (all levels)
  • Executive Assistant
  • Freelance Writer
  • Greeting Card Writer
  • Interpreter/Translator
  • Journalism
  • Lawyer (Graduate degree after English Major)
  • Librarian
  • Marketing Research Analyst
  • Public Relations Specialist 
  • Publishing
  • Retail Managers
  • Social Work/Counseling (Graduate degree after English Major)
  • Speech Writer
  • Technical Writer

Check out information regarding career opportunities for English majors at DMACC's Employment Assistance Center in Building 1 on the Ankeny Campus. See also the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn more about salary, the nature of the job, and work environment.

Advice from Composition Students on How to Do Well in Composition I

  • Write all of your papers and do everything else like the peer reviews.
  • Email the teacher if you are going to be gone or are having trouble with anything (e.g., upload assignments into Canvas if you class is held in a computer lab and your instructor is using Canvas).
  • Start papers early. Make plenty of time to write papers. Do not procrastinate.
  • Understand the grading criteria.
  • Show up for class every time and be on time.
  • Use the DMACC Library for research.
  • Learn how to do research with DMACC's databases.
  • Go to the DMACC Writing Lab to get help with your papers. They know what they're talking about.
  • Make sure that you read every assignment and essay that is on your syllabus and annotate it.
  • Enter the course with a clear, open mind and be willing to broaden your horizons.
  • Have fun with the class and enjoy it.
  • Even if it isn't assigned, have several people edit your paper.
  • Stay organized; keep on top of when things are due.
  • Take notes when needed, and use all the handouts the teacher gives.
  • Use the book; it has a lot more useful information than you think.
  • Put forth an actual effort when you are writing, and take pride in your work.
  • What you learned previously isn't always the only way to learn, and everything can be improved.
  • Get a notebook to put all of your handouts in and a planner in which to write down all of your assignments. Highlight due dates in your planner.

Top Ten List for How to Be Successful in Composition II

  1. Annotate.
  2. Come to class, even if you aren't prepared.
  3. Be prepared.
  4. Do your drafts.
  5. Participate.
  6. Talk to your instructor.
  7. Trust yourself; you'll get it sooner or later.
  8. Do the readings.
  9. Don't procrastinate.
  10. Finish: nothing worthwhile every comes easily.

Advice from Students on How to Be Successful in Literature Courses

  • Read your stories! Keep up on all your readings.
  • Read everything more than once.
  • Don't be afraid to say how you interpreted the story.
  • Don't quit reading.
  • Share and interact in class.
  • You may very well change your opinion of a work after hearing the opinions of others.
  • Be open-minded, and keep up with the readings.
  • Keep an open mind and listen to others' interpretations of a piece.

12 Myths that Hinder Student Writers

  1. Writers are born, not made.
  2. I am no good at writing. I never have been, and I never will be good at writing.
  3. I need a large block of time (at least a half a day) to get some writing done.
  4. The first (second, third, fourth, etc.) draft has to be perfect.
  5. You have to know exactly what you want to say before you start to write.
  6. I don't have anything or anything important to say.
  7. I can only write if I am really interested in something.
  8. I can only write well when I'm in the mood to write.
  9. I know that I will never need to write in the future so why should I bother to learn to write now.
  10. I don't really need to learn to proofread because I have spell and grammar check.
  11. I don't know enough about writing to give peer response feedback.
  12. I can write a great paper on the first attempt if I am under sufficient pressure to do so.

Tips for Procrastinators

  1. Start writing - anything - thoughts, fears, tidbits, anything that comes to mind to help you confront and release any tensions you are feeling about getting started.
  2. Consider whether or not a sense of perfectionism is keeping you from getting started. If so, then remind yourself its ok to write "rotten" drafts just to get started.
  3. Set the timer on your oven and work for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, reward yourself and take a 5 to 10 minute break. Then, repeat this process until you are so deeply involved with your work that you do not feel the need to set a timer.
  4. Prioritize what you need to get done. Often, it works to concentrate on the very next thing that is due without worrying about the other work that is due at a later date.
  5. Break tasks that seem large and overwhelming into small, manageable steps. Reward yourself after each step.
  6. Remind yourself that the tension you feel when you start to write is so much less than the tension that you might feel when you are working with little time against a looming deadline.
  7. Try not to buy into the myth that you work better under pressure.

Scholarship Opportunities

Rob Borsellino Journalism Scholarship

The DMACC Foundation announces that the Rob Borsellino Journalism Scholarship is available to applicants. The scholarship was created in 2007 to honor Rob Borsellino, a newspaper columnist for The Des Moines Register. The scholarship provides $1,000 to a student enrolled at DMACC with journalistic abilities and an interest in social change. The scholarship is open to writers for a DMACC student newspaper or other students interested in the field of journalism and is awarded on a competitive basis.

Criteria include:

  1. Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0
  2. Submit two (2) writing samples
  3. Complete an essay that demonstrates the applicant's journalistic abilities and interest in social change. The goal of the essay is for the reader to learn about the applicant's unique story. Particular consideration may be given to someone who has shown courage in overcoming adversity.
  4. Provide a letter of recommendation

Reka Basu, a columnist for The Des Moines Register, will announce the winner of the Rob Borsellino Journalism Scholarship at the DMACC Foundation's annual scholarship dinner. Applications can be mailed or dropped off at the DMACC Foundation Office in Bldg. 22, Ankeny Campus. Students should contact the DMACC Foundation at (515) 964-6229 with any questions.