Friendly Advice from the Writing Center
So you’ve finally managed to sit down to write that paper, but you’re feeling anxious. How will you figure out what to say? Are your skills up to par? Are you doing everything right? The Writing Fellows who tutor in the Writing Center understand what you’re going through and can point you in the right direction; however, successful tutoring sessions depend on both tutor and client. Both must be prepared, be willing to communicate, and have positive attitudes.
Towards the end of last semester, I visited with some of the Writing Fellows in the Writing Center and asked them about their “pet peeves” in regard to Writing Center clients. Take a look – being aware of these “pet peeves” may help you emerge from your next Writing Center session a better, more confident, and less stressed writer.
Top Ten Writing Fellow “Pet Peeves”
1. When Clients Procrastinate. If you come to the Center the same day your paper is due, your paper will receive emergency repairs instead of thoughtful, proactive and preventative care. Schedule your sessions early – you will have time to prepare questions, do some research, and of course, compose a more complete rough draft.
2. When Clients Exhibit Negative Attitudes. Perhaps your instructor is requiring a Writing Center visit you don’t believe you need. Perhaps you feel that your schedule cannot accommodate one more thing. Perhaps you’ve just had a bad day. We Writing Fellows understand your frustrations, but negativity detracts from the success of your Writing Center session. Try to come in with a positive attitude. Who knows? You might actually enjoy it!
3. When Clients Forget To Bring Assignments/Prompts To Sessions. Figuring out the requirements for and purpose of your assignment is vital in writing an effective paper. We can help you write to the assignment only if you bring it with you to your session.
4. When Clients Expect Tutors To “Know It All”: We Writing Fellows are PEER tutors – students just like you, who know what it’s like to struggle with writing college-level papers. We are strong (not perfect!) writers who have had significant training in tutoring skills. If we can’t answer every question about writing, we usually know where to find the answer. We may, however, know nothing about the topic of your paper, which actually makes us ideal readers/tutors. Think about it – if you can clearly communicate your ideas to someone who is not familiar with your topic, you are well on your way to a good paper.
5. When Clients Have Done Little Or No Preliminary Preparation/Research: You are the writer, so you need to be knowledgeable about your topic. Unless you are coming to the Writing Center to brainstorm with us in order to find a topic, your session will be much more productive if you have read the necessary material and/or have found credible evidence to support the ideas you are presenting in your paper.
6. When Clients Expect Editing And Proofreading Services. We Writing Fellows are trained to help you learn to recognize and correct your own errors. We typically look first at “global” issues, like thesis development, organization and structure, supporting evidence, etc., then move to “local” issues – grammar and mechanics. The goal is to help you become a better, more independent writer, not just for one particular paper, but for everything you write in the future.
7. When Clients Book Two-Hour Sessions. Two-hour tutoring blocks are mentally exhausting for both client and tutor, and generally end up being less than productive. If you feel you need more than an hour with a Writing Fellow for a particular paper, reserve two or three one-hour sessions with a few hours between them – giving you time to rest and to revise your paper from session to session.
8. When Clients Expect To Address EVERYTHING In A Paper In One Session. Depending on the length and state of your paper, you and your Writing Fellow may not be able to cover it in its entirety. The two of you will set goals at the beginning of each session. At the end of the session, progress will be assessed, a plan for revision will be discussed, and any needed follow-up sessions can be booked.
9. When Clients Neglect To Cancel Appointments. Time is valuable – the client’s, the Writing Fellow’s and the Writing Center’s. By notifying the Center that you must cancel a session, you free up that hour for another client. Remember, you may cancel a session through WCOnline up to 8 hours prior to your session time. If you must cancel fewer than 8 hours before your reserved time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 262-552-5536.
10. When Clients Don’t Tell Us How We’re Doing. Writing Fellows are human. We have bad days, misunderstand, and sometimes miscommunicate. If we don’t meet your needs and expectations in your session, please let us know – we want to make the Writing Center experience the best it can be!