Writing at Wheaton Writing Center

So Your Professor sent you to the Writing Center…

First Year Seminar (CORE 101), First Year Writing, and AIS professors often include Writing Center appointments as a portion of their course. You might meet this with a feeling of dread or stress; life is hectic and having yet another required meeting or appointment can feel like an added weight. You may feel like you don’t “need” to go to the Writing Center or the idea of sharing your work with an unfamiliar face may feel daunting. So, how do you make the best of it? 

1. Assess Where You are in the Writing Process

If you are just starting out, that’s okay! You may feel like you need to bring in finished work, but the Writing Center can help with any stage of the writing process. If you have a rough draft done but are feeling unhappy with your writing, or even if you have nothing but ideas in your mind, bring what you have. The great thing about the Writing Center is that we are all students and we know what messy, unfinished drafts look like. We’re not here to judge or evaluate your work; instead, we’re here to be a helping hand along the way.

2. Schedule Your Appointment

When scheduling an appointment, there are three important considerations. 

First, the Writing Center has specialists for specific writers on campus! If you are an English Language Learner or would like to work with a graduate student on your graduate-level work, we’ve got you covered. Click on the “Graduate and ESL Schedule” when you log in and find consultants who are trained specifically to help with your needs.

Even if you are not a graduate or ESL student, you’ll also want to think about the second consideration: timing. On WCOnline, the official Writing Center scheduling website, you can see all the available appointment times. Consider how much time you have left before your assignment is due. If you can, schedule an appointment a few days to a week before your assignment deadline. If you are feeling good about your current draft, it may be helpful to make an appointment a day or two before your deadline to polish off your piece, or if you feel stuck early in the process, you can make an appointment farther in advance. In my own writing, I know that the hardest part of every assignment is getting started. So if you’re like me, you may want to schedule an appointment focused on brainstorming or outlining to help build some momentum. 

Third, consider if you want to meet with a consultant in your major or the major of the class your assignment is for. At the top of the schedule, the “Limit to” option filters appointments by specific major or certificate. That said, if no one is available from your major –do not fear! All Wheaton Writing Center Consultants are trained in best practices across disciplines and are more than capable of helping with a variety of assignments.

3. Prepare Some Questions

Before your appointment, it’s helpful to think of the questions you will ask so you can make the most of your time. The Writing Center can help with any writing process questions, but we encourage you to think beyond evaluative ones–we do not answer questions like, “Is this a good paper?” or “What grade would you give this?”

Instead, consider where you might be stuck in the process of writing. Thesis statements and topic sentences are often two areas where developing writers face challenges. If you’re trying to figure out why your essay does not seem to be expressing what you want it to, this may be a good place to start. Some questions to ask may include: is my thesis statement consistent with what I am saying throughout the rest of my essay? Does the structure of my thesis make sense? Is my thesis statement thoroughly and adequately addressing the given prompt? Other examples of topics you might discuss include your organization, clarity, sentence structure, transitions, or brainstorming.

4. Make the Most of Your Appointment Time

The best part of the Writing Center is appointments are completely customizable to your needs. If you like to edit with a paper and pen, print out two copies and work alongside your consultant. If you prefer working digitally, consider sharing your Google Doc or transferring it to a shared platform. Either way, choose a method that works best for you. 

Also, do not be afraid to try new things! Consultants may ask you to brainstorm or revise in ways you have not tried before; two of my favorite ways to help clients brainstorm are drawing mind maps and outlining on a whiteboard. 

Finally, in the last five minutes of your appointment, work with your consultant to develop a list of next steps. These next steps may include visiting new websites, adding additional sentences or paragraphs, or visiting your professor for office hours.

5. Use the Feedback for Your Revisions

At this point, you’ve scheduled, prepared for, and attended your appointment. Now what? 

It’s time to revise!

This is a great time to refer back to your list of next steps. I always like to start with rereading the prompt you were given, as sometimes during the writing process we get a bit off track. From there you can start making decisions about what feedback you want to implement. You may not choose to make all changes – that is okay! This is your writing and we want you to feel proud of your work.

Ultimately, we hope that the Writing Center can be a source of encouragement and support during the writing process. Professors often require appointments because they want you to get the one on one support that they may not be able to give during class time. The Writing Center exists to help writers at all stages and from all majors!

Writing at Wheaton Writing Center

A Journey of Hospitality: Interview with Dr. Gibson

I have an adage in my life: when one has an excuse to chat with Dr. Alison Gibson, one should not pass on the opportunity! Thankfully, I recently had the wonderful chance to interview Dr. Gibson, Director of the Writing Center, about her history with writing centers, her experiences expanding the one at Wheaton, and her vision moving forward. 

Writing Center

I Worked Three Years in the Writing Center, and Here’s What I Learned

Before my first Writing Center consultation ever, I was quaking in my boots. After spending a week going over the best practices and principles for consultations, I felt as ready as I could theoretically. However, as soon as I received the inaugural email–an automated copy of my first client’s appointment confirmation–I promptly did what any healthy, self-regulating individual would do: I called my older sister to fix my problems. Thankfully, Lindsay was a fellow Writing Center Consultant and knew what to do to assuage my fears. Two years older than me, she was the Writing Center Manager that year and the holder of all wisdom in my eyes. I frantically picked up the phone, waiting for her wisdom to flow over me, for all my fears to be alleviated. 

Three years later, it is my senior year, and I would like to pass on what I learned much as she did. My roommate and fellow senior Writing Center Consultant, Meghan Kwong, has helped me accrue a list of insights for newer consultants. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it to be followed in every case. Every client is unique, which is part of the beauty of working at the Writing Center–each session will bring someone and something different!

So, what are some things I’ve learned in my time at the Writing Center and how has that shaped the way I hold appointments?

Writing Center

What Student Teaching Taught Me About Writing Consultations

Student teaching taught me to view the Writing Center as a place to interact with human beings, and not just fix papers. 

Student teaching is, as they say, a once in a lifetime experience. A single semester of trying to teach a class that’s not your own—designing and teaching lessons for someone else’s students, grading homework and projects for someone else’s class, writing tests for students you will soon leave. It is the limbo between being a student and being a teacher: a time to make mistakes, a place to be corrected. 

For me, student teaching was a lot of making mistakes and a lot of being corrected. 

Writing at Wheaton Writing Center

The Writing Center Is for Science Majors, Too!

Writing? In the sciences? Strange, I know. Even at a liberal arts college like Wheaton, we often think of science and writing as belonging on opposite sides of the academic spectrum, as if there is a great distance between STEM and the humanities. However, as an English major and former Pre-Med student, I have seen firsthand that they are not quite that distinct. Writing isn’t just for the aspiring novelist or literary critic; it is a skill that can serve you in nearly every facet of your life. 

Writing Center

Inside Two Writing Centers: An Interview with DePaul University Tutors

This interview was recorded via Zoom on Monday, February 14th, between DePaul University’s writing tutor Ishika B. and Wheaton College’s Writing Consultant Eunice R. DePaul’s Writing Center Blog Editor, Miriam C., prepared and asked the bold questions. Wheaton’s Online Operations Coordinator, Maggie R., supervised the process. We hope you enjoy this conversation between peer writing tutors!

Writing at Wheaton Writing Center

“It’s Empowering”: A Grad Student’s Experience at the Writing Center

Many students can feel hesitant entering the Writing Center, but one graduate client, Caitlin McNamara, has just the advice for them. 

Caitlin is a graduate student in the M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program, and she has frequented the Writing Center regularly for two years. We interviewed her to see why she keeps coming back–and why she recommends that others do so too.

Book Reviews Writing Center

Metaphors for a Charitable Writing Center

I have a confession to make. On day one of Writing Center training, I learned to avoid the metaphor of a “fix-it shop” when describing my job. But I still find myself saying things like “I help people fix things that don’t work in their papers” when I’m explaining the Writing Center to other people.

Writing at Wheaton Writing Center

How Our ESL Specialists Support Writers

Writing academic papers in one’s first language can feel like a mammoth task. But many students in our campus community are learning, reading, and writing in English as a second or additional language. These students carry the same academic load while completing their assignments in a language that is not their first. 

Professional Development Writing Center

5 Reasons to Work at the Writing Center

As you attempt to make the most of yet another “COVID-Safe, Thunder-Strong” semester, planning for the next school year may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you’re in search of a fun and rewarding on-campus job, look no further. The Writing Center is looking to hire new consultants for the 2021-2022 school year, and below are the top five reasons why you should apply.