Who uses the Writing Center?
All students are welcome to seek assistance at the Writing Center—and many do. As one student said, “I come here all the time. That’s why I don’t have bad grades.” Furthermore, all levels of writers schedule appointments—students who lack confidence and experience in writing, and students with more advanced writing skills who know how valuable it is to have a reader respond to their work.
What resources are available for graduate students?
Our graduate student writing consultant, Ryan Kalis, is available to provide support and advice to graduate students who are writing and editing theses, dissertations, or other graduate-level texts. Ryan is available by appointment in Commons 326, just outside the Writing Center.
Please email Ryan to arrange an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org. Off-campus students can email their work and arrange telephone appointments to discuss it. For more extensive editorial work, students may be referred to a professional editor. This teaching assistantship is sponsored by the College of Graduate Studies.
How does someone become a tutor?
Students interested in becoming writing tutors must apply for English 402: Internship in Tutoring Writing
. The application process requires writing samples, faculty recommendations, and an interview with the director. If accepted, interns study theoretical and practical issues of tutoring and teaching writing. While enrolled in the course, they also gain experience tutoring. Successful applicants share the following qualities: they are good students, strong writers, and (just as important) nice people. Students who complete English 402 are eligible to apply for a paid position in the center.
Graduate students interested in tutoring in the Writing Center who have not taken English 402 may arrange an English 598 internship with Mary Ann Judge. Also, each semester one TA with experience teaching composition devotes one-third of his or her appointment in the Writing Center.
Who works in the center?
Most of our tutors are undergraduate and graduate students. This semester we also have two lecturers from the Department of English on staff. Before becoming a tutor, students enroll in English 402: Internship in Tutoring Writing, a class on the theory and practice of tutoring writing. All our tutors share a commitment to helping students manage the complex task of writing.
What should students expect from a writing conference?
Students should come prepared to work and to engage in a conversation about their writing. They should bring their assignment sheets and any other information that might help the tutor understand the instructor’s requirements and goals. Tutors’ goals are to help students meet the requirements of an assignment—and to learn something about writing. Tutors read carefully and respond to both strengths and weaknesses of a draft. Tutors do not write papers for students, nor do they proofread or edit them. They will, however, help students learn strategies for improving their ability to proofread and edit. Tutors do not have all the answers, of course, but they are patient and willing to listen—and they know how to use handbooks, style manuals, and dictionaries.
Most students value the opportunity to have someone help them in this way. As one student commented, “Every time I receive their help, I learn more about writing.” Another student wrote, “The tutor took the time to allow me to find my own mistakes. She also made sure that I was understanding suggestions that she made."
Should students come with completed drafts?
Not necessarily. Tutors can help at any stage of the writing process. If students need help getting started, tutors can help them brainstorm possible approaches. Often just talking about an assignment inspires students to start writing.
Must students schedule an appointment?
The Writing Center gets busy, so it is often necessary to schedule an appointment in advance. However, students are always welcome to drop in during our open hours—just in case we have an opening or a last minute cancellation.
Should instructors require students to come to the center?
The Writing Center is a small program and cannot accommodate the needs of all faculty and students. Therefore, we ask instructors to encourage their students to seek help from us, not require them to. Also, students whose instructors require them to seek help often gain nothing from working with a tutor because they have no interest in getting feedback from a tutor. To encourage students, you could suggest that they visit the center’s website and read the student comments
Why do students continue to have problems and errors in their writing even after they get help from a writing tutor?
In a writing conference, the student and tutor focus on one or two areas that need work. For example, if a draft is unorganized and difficult to understand, tutors work with the student to improve focus and organization; they may not have time to address the sentence-level problems. At the end of such a session, the tutor will encourage the student to make another appointment.
One or two tutoring sessions will not provide students with all the feedback, instruction, and experience they need to improve. Developing strength in academic writing takes time and practice. By taking writing classes and getting regular one-on-one help from instructors and tutors, students can improve their writing.