Policies and FAQs
What kind of help can I expect?
At the Writing Center, our mission is to help all students become better writers by helping them understand and improve their writing processes. We want students to become more independent writers and learners, and we focus on helping students effectively conceptualize and construct their written work. Writing Center consultants are trained undergraduate and graduate students who work individually with writers; they provide feedback and suggestions to the writer, but do not proofread or write students’ papers. Peer consultants who work with writers to help them improve their writing seek to help writers gain confidence in their writing. We endeavor to provide professional, effective service to as many students as possible.
How long will my session last?
Sessions last up to 50 minutes. If you have a very quick question and do not want any additional assistance, your session might last just a few minutes. If you have a paper that is quite long (i.e., more than 7 pages), you likely will need more than one session to make it all the way through your paper. We will ask you to have this session with at least an hour's break so that you will have time to process the work you did in the first session and begin to make changes to your draft. If you want to continue with the same consultant, you might not be able to be seen the same day.
Do I need an appointment?
No appointment is necessary to visit the Writing Center, but if you have a tight schedule and need to get assistance at a specific time, it is a good idea to make an appointment. We do welcome walk-ins, as long as a consultant is available.
How often can I visit the Writing Center?
You can have up to two sessions per calendar week. Remember that we do not make back-to-back sessions. This is because you need time to process what a consultant has discussed with you about your writing. Even an hour or half-hour break will help you to get more from your sessions.
What should I bring to my session?
Please bring the instructions for your assignment, a copy of your draft (if you have one), and any notes or sources that are key to what you want to discuss about your writing. Bring your ideas for what you want to discuss, as well.
Will I get an A on a paper I bring to the Writing Center?
Writing takes a great deal of work and practice. It is a life-long practice that cannot be mastered in a few short sessions. So, although we cannot guarantee a certain grade on a paper, we do hope that your work in the Writing Center will help you write more effectively and will help your writing process improve over time. Also, recent research shows that frequent visitors to writing centers do earn higher grades on their writing assignments and score higher in composition courses.
Can I get someone to just fix my grammar?
We work alongside writers to help them "fix" their own writing. If we were to "fix" your paper, the changes we might make would not necessarily reflect your own intended meaning, which would defeat the purpose of such corrections. In addition, research shows writers learn best when they participate in identifying a pattern of error and correcting it themselves, and we have found writing gets clearer when writers are asked questions that allow them to clarify their own ideas.
I have writer's block, and my paper is due tomorrow. Will the consultant help write part of it?
We will not write part or all of a client’s essay, not even a few sentences. In fact, consultants often do not even write on your paper. Instead, we will take notes about a paper to help identify areas that need clarification and then will talk through that work. Consultants will note patterns of error and then help writers recognize that pattern and make the necessary corrections. Research shows this method more effectively helps the writer correct the errors on the next project or assignment.
Can I drop off my paper and pick it up later with your corrections?
We often ask writers to read their papers aloud to identify their own errors wherever they can, stepping in to catch spots they don't, or we ask writers to read along with us so that they stay actively engaged in the process of improving their writing. We listen, discuss, read carefully, and ask questions. We provide guidance and practice that improve writing skill, build confidence, and enhance critical thinking. Ultimately, we aim to help you become a successful, independent writer. We've found that happens best when the writer is right beside us working through a draft, so plan to stay to work on your writing with us.
My roommate had the same class last year with a different instructor. Can you help me make his paper sound like my own?
The Writing Center promotes the ethical use of information. Consultants call attention to any portion of a writer’s work that does not correctly document its source or is not appropriately integrated into the writer’s work. The consultant will ask whether the writer knows how to document the source material correctly in the style appropriate to the project and discipline; if not, that consultant will instruct the writer how and will remind the writer of the ethical obligation all writers have to cite their sources. We can help you develop your own ideas if you are struggling so you don't have to rely on a friend's paper as a crutch. In the long run, that will make you a better writer!
What else can I expect?
Writers have the right to disregard a consultant’s advice if they disagree with it. After all, the writer has the final responsibility for his or her work.
Writers can expect confidentiality from consultants. Although consultants might discuss sessions with other consultants or the Writing Center director in order to review the work they have done or to receive advice, they will not discuss such work outside the Writing Center.
Reports of sessions are sent to instructors only if students explicitly ask a report be sent to the instructor. In this case, the consultant will send the instructor a brief email outlining the work accomplished during a session. (We can't sign a draft stating you brought it in, etc.)
- Disrespectful or abusive behavior by either consultants or writers will not be tolerated. All questions or concerns should be directed to Dr. Crystal Mueller, Writing Center director.
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