Write on: an inside look at the Writing Center on campus



Alana Meo

You have a 5-page book analysis for ACS, 6-page lab report for General Chemistry, and a 10-page research paper for your Theories class. Your stress is at an all-time high, your sleep schedule is doomed and you don’t even have enough points to drown your sorrows in Ben and Jerry’s. This is Finals Week. Lucky for you, there is a group of trained writing tutors eagerly waiting to arm you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a better writer to conquer finals week with confidence. Where is this mystical group of writing warriors, you ask? They are located in the coolest place on campus, second only to the tunnels beneath Bartley: the Writing Center, Falvey 210.

The Writing Center is a place where students can talk to trained tutors from all majors about any kind of writing, from book analyses to lab reports, at any stage of writing. This group of 55 tutors comes from a diverse background of majors and minors, representing just about all fields of study, so no matter what your piece of writing is for, there will be a tutor who will be able to understand the context of it with a simple request. You can request a Professional, Graduate or Undergraduate tutor when you make your appointment. 

Each of these tutors underwent interviews and a semester-long course on how to tutor, what its like to be tutored, and all of the skills they need to help anyone who comes into the Writing Center become a better writer. Even though the idea of going to a skilled tutor may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that a majority of these tutors are just other students who want to talk with you about your paper and help you better yourself as a writer. In an interview with Writing Center Tutor, Amanda Eliades, she explained what to expect from a visit to the Writing Center.

“It is really just a community of people who want to read and write together,” Eliades explained. “It’s a place to learn from your peers, not someone who is better than you or scary.”

The Writing Center provides a laid-back space where students can discuss their papers with trained peers. However, they do emphasize that it is not a “grammar fix-it shop.” Another tutor, Neil MacDonald, Junior Chemical Engineering major, commented on the type of tutoring the Writing Center focuses on.

“Your friend who is really good at grammar could probably change all of your comma splices, but we’re more concerned with how your argument flows, how to transition, how to write a thesis statement…and that’s not something your friend can really do,” he explained. 

MacDonald also emphasized that the Writing Center is a place to learn to become a better writer. Its goal is not to edit your paper grammatically. Rather it is to teach you ways to avoid making the same mistakes in order to polish your writing for the future as well as for your current assignment.

If you’re worried about not having enough material to work with, don’t be. You can go to the Writing Center at any point during your writing process, including when you’re brainstorming ideas for a paper. If you’re just beginning a paper, a tutor can help you think of how to structure your paper and develop a thesis statement. If you are stuck midway through, a tutor can be there to help push you along and review what you have written. If you are done with a rough draft of your paper, a tutor can be an extra set of friendly eyes to strengthen and polish your arguments and ideas as a whole. 

As far as logistics go, the Writing Center is open every day of the week except Saturday. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Sunday 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., so it should never be difficult to find time to take a trip to the Writing Center. An appointment at the Writing Center is typically 50 minutes long, but there is no pressure to stay the full length of the appointment if it is not necessary. The meetings begin every hour on the half hour, for example at 1:30, 2:30, and so on. 

A student can schedule a meeting by either calling the Writing Center from the number located on the Writing Center’s website or walking into Falvey 210 and scheduling a meeting with a person at the desk. Even if you do not schedule an appointment ahead of time, there is space for a walk-in meeting at each meeting time if you come in 15 minutes before hand. For example, you can go at 1:15 p.m. as a walk-in for the 1:30 p.m. time slot. 

 Now that Finals Week is quickly approaching and work is steadily building up, you know just the place you can go to not only improve your writing assignments, but also better yourself as a writer for the future. As they say at the Writing Center, “Keep Calm and Write On.”