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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens during a Writing Center session?

A: Writing Center sessions are typically 30 minutes long. During this time, the tutor will work one-on-one with a student on various aspects of the student's writing. Students usually bring in a complete draft of a paper or at least a partial draft of the paper. However, students do sometimes come to the Writing Center at the very beginning of the writing process to begin developing ideas for a paper.

During a session, the tutor can assist the student on a variety of levels. Some sessions focus on details such as grammar and punctuation or documentation/citation. Other sessions focus on "higher order" concerns such as thesis development or organization. No two sessions are exactly alike, but all focus on writing and thinking skills that are essential at the college level.

Q: Is an appointment required?

A: Appointments are not absolutely required but are highly advisable because the Writing Center does often get very busy. The busiest times tend to coincide with the due dates for major writing assignments in high-enrollment courses that require writing such as English 101 and 102 or Physics 103. Therefore, it is recommended that you call 843-349-2937 to make an appointment at least a day or two before you would like to come in. Calling ahead for an appointment ensures that a tutor will be available to see your paper.

However, walk-ins are also welcome. If you would like to walk in, you might try coming during slower times, such as early in the morning or during the evenings at our Bryan Information Commons location.

Q: Does coming to the Writing Center mean that my grade will improve on a paper?

A: We can't guarantee that your grade will improve, but research on our center and at other centers has consistently shown that students who visit the Writing Center typically perform better on written assignments. We like to say that we work with writers, not writing. Our ultimate goal is to help you become a better writer over time, not simply to help you get a better grade on a specific paper.

Q: Will my professor know that I have come to the Writing Center?

A: After each session, the tutor writes a report to the instructor of the course. In that report, the tutor begins by identifying the student and the project the student was working on. Then, the tutor writes a brief report explaining what happened during the session: what parts of the paper the tutor and student worked on, which skills the session focused on, and so forth. Most students like for their teachers to receive these reports, but if you, for some reason, would rather that your report not be sent to your instructor, please let the tutor know. Unless you indicate that you would rather the report not be sent, your teacher will receive a report within a week of your session.

Q: Do Writing Center tutors work on grammar with students?

A: The one-word answer to this question is “yes,” but let’s go beyond that simple answer and ask how our tutors work on grammar (and what they are trained not to do). In the Writing Center, we often say that we want to produce better writers, not just better writing. What we mean is that we want to help students develop stronger lifelong writing skills, including grammar skills. We could “fix” everything in a paper for the student, but doing so would not help the student become a better writer. It would only “fix” the paper. Instead, we typically point out one or two examples of a type of error that a student is making and show how this type of error can be corrected. Then, we ask the student to look for similar examples and work on them with assistance from a tutor.

Q: Will you proofread and edit my paper for me?

A: Tutors may discuss with students the types of errors they are making, but tutors are not allowed to "fix" papers for students. The ultimate responsibility for the paper is the student's, so tutors are not allowed to write on students' papers or make specific changes to the student's writing. However, by going over the types of problems typical in a student's writing, tutors can help students to recognize and address problems. Again, we want to work with writers, not writing, so the best approach is to help student writers become better proofreaders of their own work.

Q: Does the Writing Center work on long documents (capstone papers, theses, etc.)?

A: Again, the one word answer is “yes,” but with some qualifications. Each Writing Center appointment is for 30 minutes, so it is usually not possible to review a long paper during one session. Writing center researchers and professionals have found that long appointments tend to become proofreading/editing sessions rather than tutoring sessions during which the focus is on helping the student develop writing skills. Students working on longer papers may make multiple appointments (that is, one per day) to work on separate sections of a longer paper, but should not expect for any part of the paper to be proofread by their tutors. We train tutors to work with students on a short section of a longer writing assignment and look for areas that the writer could work on, whether these are “higher-order” issues such as organization and development or “lower-order” issues such as grammar/punctuation/usage. Just as in tutoring sessions on shorter writing assignments, tutors who work with students on longer projects are encouraged to focus on helping students become better writers and proofreaders of their own work.

Q: How can I become a Writing Center tutor?

A: If you are a strong writer with excellent grades in writing courses at the college level, you may be the kind of student the Writing Center is looking for. To become a Writing Center tutor, begin by visiting Scott Pleasant, the Writing Center Coordinator (office: Kearns 215-C). You'll then be asked to fill out an application, get two letters of reference from college instructors familiar with your writing, and provide a writing sample of work presented in a college course for a grade. Becoming a Writing Center tutor is a competitive process, but if you are interested and feel you are right for the job, please see Scott Pleasant.