There are many misconceptions about the Writing Center. This article debunks the nine most common misconceptions about the Writing Center’s purpose, clientele, and consultants.
1. The Writing Center’s main purpose is to fix your grammar.
Many people assume that the Writing Center exists to “fix” your writing. Before I began working there, I also held this assumption. In fact, the goal of the Writing Center is to make you a better writer.
As writing consultants, we’re trained to equip clients with writing and revising skills that go beyond any specific assignment. Instead of “correcting” the assignment, we have conversations about patterns, strengths, and opportunities for growth in your writing. In addition to grammar and conventions, we discuss paper organization, argument progression, coherence, and more. You will leave each consultation with next steps for your assignment as well as strategies you can use for future writing projects.
2. You have to finish your draft before visiting the Writing Center.
Nope! In the fall 2020 semester, over half of our clients came in for consultations during the brainstorming, outlining, or early drafting phases of the writing process. In fact, just 42% of clients brought in significantly revised drafts. Consultants will support you in any stage of the writing process.
I like to visit the Writing Center when I’m having trouble starting a paper. By bouncing ideas off of a consultant and hearing their responses, I gain the confidence and momentum to move forward with my writing project.
3. The Writing Center is mainly for English Majors.
Believe it or not, the vast majority (86.8%) of our clients last semester were not English majors. We work with writers from all departments, from Applied Health Science to Urban Studies. Furthermore, our Writing Center staff represents a variety of majors. For example, our writing consultants major in subjects as diverse as Biblical and Theological Studies, Chemistry, and Music Composition.
4. Most Writing Center clients are freshmen.
Because freshmen are new to college-level writing, you might assume they make up the majority of Writing Center clients. However, in the fall of 2020, while 41.8% of our undergraduate clients were freshmen, the remaining 58.2% were sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Furthermore, many graduate students regularly visit the Writing Center, accounting for 15.4% of our appointments.
5. Only “bad writers” visit the Writing Center.
There is no such thing as a “bad writer.” Instead, there are writers of varying levels of experience in different genres. Visiting the Writing Center isn’t a sign of failure or a source of embarrassment. Rather, it suggests that you care about your writing.
Additionally, our own staff members visit the Writing Center for consultations on their writing. Last semester, 45% of undergraduate consultants visited the Writing Center, with 20% of consultants visiting more than once. Because of our training, we know that we—and everyone—will benefit from getting feedback on our writing.
6. Writing consultants judge you based on your writing.
A draft is not a reflection of a person’s character; it is a snapshot of an idea in progress. Our writing consultants understand that it can be scary to share your writing with another person, especially when it’s not fully developed. (As a writer, I definitely relate to this fear, as I have written quite a few hurried essays in my time.) Consultants do not assume that your draft is representative of your academic potential. Instead, they are eager to support you as you move forward in your writing process.
7. You can only visit the Writing Center once a semester.
Actually, over half of our clients visited the Writing Center more than once last semester, and almost a third of our clients had three or more consultations. We love working with recurring clients who visit multiple times in a semester. Meeting with a consultant multiple times builds trust, comfort, and familiarity, and gives the consultant opportunities to affirm the writer’s progress.
8. People generally visit the Writing Center the night before their papers are due.
We will certainly meet with you the night before an assignment is due. However, we’re also here for you earlier in the writing process. This semester, 37% of our clients came in at least several days before their assignments were due. Meeting with a writing consultant to decode the assignment instructions, brainstorm ideas, and outline your paper early in the writing process may minimize stress down the road.
9. The Writing Center is busiest at night.
The Writing Center is open for appointments between 8:00 am and 11:00 pm CT. According to our usage statistics, no time of day or night is significantly busier than another. Sign up for whatever appointment time works for you!