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The Writing Center

The Writing Center

What to Expect


Before the Session

Before visiting the Writing Center, take some time to review your writing and decide what you would like to focus on in your session (See “At the Writing Center” for a list of possible focuses). This is important because sessions are only 30 minutes, so you and the consultant will not be able to touch on everything.  If you are earlier in the drafting process and do not have any actual writing yet, think about what you need to work on before writing your first draft.  What are you uncomfortable or unsure about?  What is confusing, difficult, or an obstacle? 

After reviewing your assignment and writing, decide whether you want to drop by for a walk-in or make an appointment:

Walk-in sessions are 30 minutes. For a walk-in, you simply need to drop by the Writing Center. You will be placed with the first available consultant.

If you would like to secure time with a consultant in advance, or request a specific consultant, you can make an appointment ahead of time.

You will be registered on your first visit to the Writing Center. If you would like to register ahead of time, you can do so online or by calling us.

We recommend that you bring or have access to any relevant assignment guidelines and rubrics that may help you and the consultant better understand your assignment.

At the Writing Center

Upon entering the Writing Center, you will be asked to sign in. If you drop by for a walk-in and have not visited the Writing Center during the semester, you will be registered in our system. You will also be asked to select one of the following areas of writing on which to focus during your 30-minute session:

  • Prewriting/Invention: generating ideas, understanding your prompt, or developing a draft
  • Writing/Refining a Thesis: developing your stance, point of view, or the main “point” of your writing
  • Organization: the order of and transitions between your ideas and paragraphs
  • Development: developing evidence and elaborating on main ideas  
  • Documentation: formatting and citation styles (such as APA, MLA, and Chicago)
  • Mechanics: grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and word choice

If you are unsure which of these areas to choose, you can skip this step and decide on a focus together with your consultant at the start of your session. 

After signing in, you will often be immediately introduced to your consultant. The average wait time is under 10 minutes, and you can always call ahead to check the wait (or check our Twitter page, which is regularly updated with our current wait time). You can also request to make an appointment for a future time. 

You may wish to work with a specific writing consultant for a session. To request a specific consultant, it is recommended that you make an appointment by visiting us online, calling, or stopping by.

During the Session

At the beginning of your session, you and your consultant will set goals. Here, your consultant will likely ask for any relevant assignment guidelines, rubrics, or other documents to gain a better understanding of your project.

After setting goals, the two of you will begin to work.  What work you do will depend on your goals, but, to give just a few examples, you might freewrite to generate ideas, find a stance to craft a tentative thesis, reverse outline a draft to test its organization, learn about plagiarism and citation styles, or read a draft aloud with an ear and eye for patterns of errors and undeveloped thoughts.

During this time, your consultant will make suggestions and give you their impressions. Any feedback from your consultant is considered a suggestion, and any final editorial decisions are left up to you. See Writing Center policies for more information.

A few minutes before the end of your session, you and your consultant will review your discussion.  Here, we will document your plan of action for further writing and revision. If you would like a copy of the session notes, simply notify your consultant or the Executive Secretary.

Under no circumstances will consultants predict, explain, or assess the validity of a grade on an assignment.  If you do not understand a grade, you should talk to your instructor.

After the Session

Our ultimate goal is to help you improve as a writer. This means that even if you and your consultant do not get through the entire document in a single session, you will have feedback that can be applied to the rest of the document during your next revisions.

After making revisions, we encourage you to return to the Writing Center at any time if you feel that you have more questions or would like additional feedback.