Student FAQ

FAQ for Students

Who can use the Writing Center, and for what?

The Writing Center is open to the entire WFU community: faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students.  Most students come for help with papers for their courses, but we also offer help with personal statements and application letters.  The service is free.

Why should I use the Writing Center?

Because all writers have trouble reading their own work with a critical eye, you tend to read what you intended to say instead of what you really said, and you’re too close to your own work to notice the difference. (The Latin poet Horace advised young writers to put their work away for ten years because when they took it out again, they would immediately see what was wrong with it. Alas, what student has the luxury of such distant deadlines?) Our philosophy is that all writers, regardless of ability, need an extra set of eyes to see their work.

When should I come?

Depending on how much help you need, the earlier the better. That’s why we encourage students to plan ahead and make an appointment. Appointments aren’t required, but if your paper needs work in lots of areas, we probably won’t be able to address them all in a single session. You can come at any stage of the writing process, whether you need help getting started, developing a partial draft, or reviewing a complete draft.

How do I get to see a tutor?

It’s easy. We take walk-ins and appointments. The sessions start on the hour and last for up to 50 minutes. An appointment isn’t required, but we recommend one because when we’re really busy, we can’t guarantee everyone a tutor. You can schedule an appointment online. The WC is located in ZSR 426, around the corner and down the hall from the Reference Desk.

Who are the tutors?

The Writing Center staff includes undergraduate and graduate students. Some are English majors, but not all. We hire students from all disciplines, including Economics, Business, and Biology. The one thing they all have in common is they have lots of experience with reading and writing, and love to share that experience with others.

What should I bring to my session?

Any and all information about the assignment, preferably the actual instructions given by the professor (it is hard for us to help you if neither of us understands the exact purpose and requirements of the assignment). Bring a draft of your work-in-progress at any stage, including the very beginning if you’re having trouble getting started. However much work you’ve written so far, we prefer that you bring a hard copy because it’s easier to mark up than a computer screen. However, a hard copy is not required.

How long does a session last, and how often can I come in?

Sessions last up to 50 minutes, if you need that long. It depends on the length of the paper and how much work it needs. To ensure that everyone has equal access to our services, we limit students to one appointment per day and two per week.

What should I expect in my session?

The tutors act as an audience for your work, helping your match the words in your head with the words on the page. Instead of simply telling you what to say (which we’re not allowed to do even if we wanted to), the tutor will ask you lots of questions – about the assignment, your ideas and intentions, the areas you want help with. We will give you an honest response to the paper by telling you what we learned from reading it, where we had questions and needed more information, and where we got a little lost or confused. We won’t take your paper away from you; instead, we’ll read it with you. We like to have students read their work aloud because it helps them hear what they’re really saying, not what they think they’re saying. Our job is not to “fix” your paper, but to keep you moving through the writing process. If you need help with proofreading for grammatical errors, we will help you with strategies for identifying errors, but we will not correct your papers for you.

Can I drop off my paper and pick it up later? Or send it to the WC ahead of time?

Sorry, but we’re not a “fix-it shop.” Our main goal is not just to “fix” your paper, but to help you make decisions about how to take the next step in revising your work. If there’s one word that sums up what we do, it is “collaborate.” We want to work with you. In order to do that, we need to be able to talk you in person.

Will I get a good grade on my paper if I use the Writing Center?

We cannot guarantee you any grade. Our expertise is in writing, not in History or Politics or Literature or any subject you might study here at WFU. Therefore, we can’t judge the depth and sophistication of your ideas. That’s your professor’s role, and he or she will always be reading your work with a different set of expectations. Our role is to help you give shape to your thinking, not to evaluate the quality of that thinking.

Will my professor know that I’ve come to the Writing Center?

Yes. We will send a brief report to your professor describing what we worked on and how much progress we made. However, we do not evaluate your work. We find that professors like knowing that their students use the Writing Center.

To whom should I go if I have a complaint or suggestions about the Writing Center?

Please feel free to contact the Writing Center Director with any comments at writingcenter@wfu.edu. We like to get feedback!