3 Ways to Get the Most from the Writing Center

by   |   mrsidwel@bju.edu   |  
A student worker works with another student in the writing center

Do you ever feel a little uncomfortable the first time you walk into a new restaurant and try to figure out things like where to sit, where to pay and what to order? Most of us prefer to know what we’re doing before we get to a new place. In the same way, a first-time visit to the Writing Center can throw you slightly off balance. So, here’s a cheat sheet on how to prepare for a Writing Center session. If you do these three things, you’ll definitely get better help!

Make an appointment

Although appointments aren’t required, they do put you first in line for the time you want to go to the Writing Center—crucial when there might be a couple hundred freshman students with a paper due on the same day. Plus, having an appointment will motivate you to get started on that assignment! You can access the SignUpGenius appointment calendar from any device, and you don’t have to create an account. Just taking a few minutes to make an appointment can save you a lot of time later on.

Bring the instructions

Tutors like to peruse the teacher’s instructions to get a running start on what your assignment is all about. Teachers change assignments from time to time, so even if you have a basic En101 or En102 paper, the requirements might be different from semester to semester or from teacher to teacher. And if you have a writing assignment from an upper-level class, your tutor will need to know the specific objectives for that piece of writing. When you have the instructions (either online or in print), you can also discuss the key words in the prompt to make sure you’re meeting all the requirements.

Tell the tutor what you want from your visit

Think about your objectives before you get to your appointment. For instance, do you want to talk about brainstorming, outlining, organizing, writing introductions, citing sources, developing paragraphs, structuring arguments, or something else? How much time do you have to devote to revising your paper? Is it due the next hour or in a few days? A great Writing Center session should help you in a specific way and point out what you need to do next. As the saying goes, you won’t know if you hit the target if you don’t have one.

So, choose that appointment, locate your instructions, and pinpoint what you want to work on in your Writing Center session. And afterward, take a few minutes to give feedback when you see the Writing Center Survey. We want you to get the most help possible in the time available. Survey suggestions from Writing Center users provide information we can’t get any other way.

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