Frequently Asked Questions

Who goes to the Writing Center?
The Writing Center is not just for struggling writers. Many students, especially good writers, go to the Center because they know it’s useful to talk about what they're writing and to get feedback. Even the best writers find it helpful to have a second pair of eyes look over their paper for a fresh perspective. In fact, almost all of the Writing Center consultants go to each other for this kind of advice. Clearly, the Writing Center is helpful for any type of writer.

What happens during a writing consultation?
We will start by asking you some questions, such as the parameters of the assignment and your goals for the session. Then, we will ask you to read aloud either only part of your paper or all of it, and you will talk about your writing concerns. If you are not comfortable reading aloud, we can read your paper aloud for you. We will then give suggestions about different strategies that you can use. We will also offer personal help with planning, revising, and any other aspect of your writing. We will not mark your paper with red ink. We are here to help you formulate ideas, not tell you that your ideas are wrong. We don't write papers for you, but do help you write better papers yourself.

What is the purpose of reading aloud?
This technique may seem a bit strange to you at first, but it really helps to get you more actively involved in the revision process. When you read out loud rather than silently to yourself, you are more able to pick out your own grammatical and mechanical errors and also hear your words and meanings as if you're part of a more “detached” or neutral member of your audience. In other words, if you can see your paper in a fresher light, you will be able to revise more effectively.

How are the writing consultants trained?
Writing consultants are graduate and undergraduate students, and we are not all English majors. After being selected as a writing consultant, we are trained in a three-credit, semester-long course called Composition Theory and Practice (ENG 302). In this class, we learn about different theories of tutoring and how they apply to the Writing Center setting. We also learn about best practices in Writing Center work, and do some writing ourselves.

Do I have to bring writing for an English class?
No, we will work with writing from any kind of class. The fact that we may be unfamiliar with the content of the paper does not mean that we can’t help. Things like unity, organization, development, grammar, and evidence are much the same in all fields of study.

Do I need to make an appointment?
We do require that appointments be made through our online scheduling system.  Having an appointment ensures that a consultant will be available to you at a time you are free, versus arriving and having to wait for extended periods until someone is available to work with you.

When is the best time to come?
It is best not to bring in your paper the day that it is due. We can only do so much with that time constraint. The best time to bring in your paper is a few days before it is due. That way, if you decide that you need another appointment, you still have time to make one.

How long will the session last?
Sessions are either 30 or 60 minutes. You can make that choice when you sign-up online. If you have a paper longer than 5-6 pages, bring in shorter sections, or maybe just pick a few trouble spots you'd like to focus on in the paper. If you need another session, you can always make another appointment after you work on what was discussed during the first session.

What should I bring with me when I come? Do I need a draft?
You should bring in the assignment and whatever you have done so far. It is okay if you have not started writing yet. If you just have the assignment sheet and some ideas, bring those ideas in and we will help you brainstorm topics. We can help you wherever you are in the writing process.

Will you proofread my paper for me?
The Writing Center’s ultimate goal is for you to become a better writer. If we merely marked your mistakes, you wouldn't learn much from the session. The paper is yours, and should be written by you, not by a writing consultant. This is also why you cannot drop off your paper and have us proofread it for you. However, what we will do is talk about your writing with you, make some suggestions, and explain why we made those suggestions. Whether you want to change the things we suggest or not is your decision.

Why don't you write on my paper?
We’d prefer that YOU write on your paper during a writing consultation at the Writing Center. After all, it’s your paper. If we scribbled all over it, then it would be partly ours. Writing consultants do help writers take notes and may write on papers with the writer's permission, but it’s not our goal to correct your paper. It’s our goal to help you learn to correct it yourself.

Can you tell me what grade you think my paper will get?
We are not involved in your professor’s grading process and therefore have no idea of what your grade will be. Additionally, every professor has different grading policies. If you have concerns, it is always a good idea to talk with your professor. The Writing Center can certainly help you with your writing, but it is not designed to be a substitute for your professor.

Will my professor know that I came?
If you want your teacher to know that you were at the Writing Center, we will send an e-mail to your professor telling her or him that you came. The e-mail says only that you came to the Writing Center, and briefly outlines what we worked on in our session. Nothing in the e-mail will evaluate your writing. If you don't want your instructor to know that you came to the Writing Center for help, then we will not send an e-mail. That said, an e-mail from the Writing Center is a great way to let your professor know that you care about your writing and are putting effort into the assignment. You are showing the professor that you are willing to put extra time into the assignment, and professors always like to see that!