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Frequently Asked Questions

Who Uses The Writing Center?

The Writing Center is for writers. Students from freshmen year through graduate school, faculty members, and even the tutors themselves take advantage of this service. We are also able to accommodate those students with different learning abilities. Anyone who is interested in writing effectively, in any discipline or at any ability level, will find the Writing Center a useful tool. The service is free of charge.

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Why Do People Come?

Every writer has a particular audience in mind for his or her writing. With the exception of diaries and other personal writing, someone will eventually read and have to understand what you write. Sometimes we think that the best kept secret is that writers need readers who will respond to their writing before it really counts. When your professors wrote their dissertations in their graduate programs, they had an advisor who worked with them to help them develop their ideas and to work through the many revisions that are necessary to produce a final text. Even professional writers have someone look over their work to make sure it is clear and concise before it is published. Here, the tutors provide an attentive, questioning audience, one that can collaborate with you to produce stronger pieces of writing.

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What If English Isn't My First Language?

Many people who come to the Writing Center have not grown up speaking English. We make every effort to accommodate these students with weekly appointments.

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What Expertise Do The Tutors Have?

The Center employs peer tutors who have shown expertise in their own writing and an interest in the diverse ways in which people learn. Most are undergraduates who are majoring in a variety of disciplines, such as English, Theater, Education, and Modern Languages. Every tutor begins work with the Center by attending ten weeks of workshops during his or her initial summer; usually tutors continue to participate in these workshops each summer thereafter, and staff development continues throughout the academic year.

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What Will The Writing Center Do For Me?

The Center is a place to try out ideas before you begin writing, or to bring a draft before submitting it. We do not "fix" or "correct" students' papers. Each session is a time for discussion and collaboration. For students who find writing difficult, it is important to come to the Center on a regular basis in order to make meaningful progress. For all students, we provide the kind of reflective, focused audience every writer needs. We also have a wide variety of materials, ranging from colored markers to Legos and other 3-dimentional building tools, that are sometimes helpful for visual and/or kinetic learners. Students who learn better aurally are welcome to bring a tape recorder to their sessions. In short, because every person has a unique learning style, we realize that it is important to be familiar with a variety of approaches to writing.

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But I'm Just A Bad Writer! Can The Writing Center Really Help Me?

Even professional writers were once novices, and many people are afraid of writing, thinking they are simply no good at it. But what is writing really? It is no more than thoughts and ideas converted to a physical form through ink and paper. It is a conversation that you have with your readers, completely independent of time or space. For instance, these words are typed on an October evening in 2005; you will read them at some point in the future, perhaps in your own home.

Your task as a writer, therefore, is to simply find the most concise way to transmit your thoughts to your audience. Talking with a tutor can help you determine if your writing is successful in doing this and if there are ways of improving it. If you are sensitive about your writing skills, there's no reason to worry. We're not here to judge you; we just want to hear what you have to say.

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Will My Professor Know What We Talked About In A Session?

Nope, not unless you choose to tell him or her. All appointments are confidential. We do not report back to professors about what goes on in sessions, nor do we tell professors when their students make appointments with us. This service is for you. Your professor may suggest that you make an appointment with us, but it is ultimately you who must decide to do so.

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What Happens In A Typical Session?

Each one is different, but usually a session begins with either the writer or the tutor reading the paper aloud in order for the tutor to hear the whole piece before beginning work on it, and in order for the writer to "hear" the piece in a new way. This practice is often the first step toward a student's recognition of areas that need work. Next, the tutor and writer determine what needs to be addressed first. For example, if there doesn't seem to be a main point in an essay, that's where the work begins. If the main point is well-established, then they might work on developing evidence, organizing, or even rethinking positions. All of this takes place through conversation, although it is not uncommon for a tutor to suggest that some writing be done during the session. Most editing is left until the other issues have been addressed; therefore, if you feel you have difficulties with grammar, it is important to leave enough time to schedule a second or even third appointment before submitting your paper.

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Can I Bring In A Creative Or Personal Piece To Work On?

Of course! Academic writing is not the only kind that requires an audience. Many people come to the Writing Center with poetry, letters, stories, and many other types of creative or personal projects.

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How Can I Make An Appointment?

Appointments begin on the hour and last up to 50 minutes. It is best to call at least two days in advance to get a time that's convenient for you. We do accept walk-ins, but we cannot guarantee that a tutor will be available at any given time. The phone number for the appointment desk is (401) 456-8141

If you must cancel an appointment, we ask that you call ahead so that we can give the slot to another student. If you are going to be late, please let us know. Otherwise, we will assume you won't be coming, and we will give your appointment to someone else. Fridays are reserved for walk-in sessions from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., so no appointment is necessary.

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Is There Anything Special Happening At The Writing Center?

We sell snacks, instant hot drinks, and juice all day long at the Center. The profits are used to fund workshops and to send the tutors to regional and national conferences. These activities help us to improve our services to you.

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Page last updated: April 29, 2013