Directions for Summer Writing

Getting Started

[View the 2016 Summer Orientation video for This We Believe here.]

Visit National Public Radio’s This I Believe website, UMassD’s faculty and staff submissions from this year and previous years, and the essays of the 2015 student finalists. Spend a little time getting a sense of what types of essays and stories are shared both in our community and the larger community of “This I Believe.” In what context did your peers share their belief? How did they support their belief statements with personal experience?

You are invited to write both an Essay and a Blog Post, so read the following closely.

Step 1: Compose Your Belief Essay

What do you believe? Compose your own This We Believe essay of 500 words. Your belief statement is a narrative that explains how you came to understand one of your own core beliefs through experience. Originality is important!

You will be asked to share and submit your Belief Essay during the first week of the fall semester in your First-Year English course, so you’ll need this ready by August 31st, 2016. You’ll want to consider your audience– your peers and instructors–as you revise your essay and prepare to share what matters to you.

Step 2. Write Your Blog Post

Practice your revision skills by posting a shorter, 250-word version of your essay on the Blog, here. Think of this short version as a credo– a small, encapsulation of your belief that will be shared with your peers and is also due August 31st, 2016.

Want to know where to post? Either look to the menu on the right and choose a category link or simply scroll down through the blogroll to find a topic that matches your own submission content and post there under the “comments” section. See complete Blog Posting Instructions below.

Step 3.  Respond to your Peers

Please read the stories of your fellow students and use the comments section to respond to them.

Step 4. Submit to the Provost’s Essay Contest

This part is optional, but you’ve done all the hard work of reflecting on your values and composing a belief statement, so why not submit your essay? There are three prizes for the Provost’s Essay Contest. Essays should be 500 words and are due by July 31st, 2016. See the tab for the Provost’s Essay Contest for submission instructions.

Blog Posting Instructions

Some tips on how to use WordPress and post your comment:


  1. Click on “LEAVE A COMMENT” in the Category on the right-hand menu in which your Belief Statement best fits. Remember, you’re only posting the 250-word version, here.
  2. You’ll see the comments already submitted– these are other’s posts. Take a look at what’s already there.
  3. Below the comments, you’ll see a dialogue box—“Leave a Reply”
  4. Enter your text in this box—please check grammar, spelling, and mechanics before you submit the comment. you will not be able to edit once you’ve posted.
  5. You’ll be asked to choose an identity. If you haven’t already set up your account, simply follow the prompt: No Google Account? Sign up here. (You do NOT have to use a Google email address. You can use any email address you’d like. If you already have a Google account of any kind, you can use that. Or–even better–you can use your new UMD e-mail address.) We ask you not to make anonymous comments because we want students to stand behind their statements.
  6. You will also be asked to complete the Word Verification as a security measure.
  7. You can preview your comment before you publish it. (We recommend that you do so!)
  8. Click “Publish” when your response is ready to be posted.  (It may take a moment to show up on the blog.
  9. Please note that comments can be redacted by blog administrators for any reason. Be kind in your replies. The UMD community is reading!