Writing Center: Frequently Asked QuestionsMake an Appointment
What is the Writing Center? It is a place where Haverford students can come to talk about their writing with a staff of trained peer tutors. Now in three locations, Magill Library, Zubrow Commons, and Stokes 118I in the Office of Academic Resources, the Center contains computers, a small writing library, and many useful handouts.
Who are the writing tutors? They are Haverford students representing a wide range of majors, selected for their writing and tutoring abilities. The tutors are trained to help you with writing in any discipline or course, and at any stage in the writing process. They are not a proofreading service, a quick fix, or a guarantee of higher grades. They work with you so that you become a more skilled and self-confident writer.
What is a Writing Partner? A Writing Partner is an experienced peer tutor from the Writing Center who will meet with you one-on-one for an hour each week to talk about your writing. At the beginning of the semester, you and your Writing Partner will work together to articulate writing goals for the semester. You can work on any number of writing issues, from learning how to do a close reading to formulating a strong thesis, structuring a longer essay, writing in a variety of disciplines, or polishing your prose. You can consult with your Partner on a writing assignment for any course.
What happens at the Center? To meet with a tutor, you can either schedule an appointment online or drop by. Bring your draft, outline, ideas, notes, or questions, along with the description of the assignment (or the application) you’re working on. You work individually with one of our student writing tutors, who tailors the session to meet your particular needs. Tutors read your draft, respond to your questions, discuss your ideas, and help you express them clearly. They can work with you on framing a thesis, structuring your paragraphs, and strengthening your argument; they can advise you on grammar, mechanics, or style, and help you improve editing skills. Writing tutors offer the positive, constructive feedback of careful readers and objective listeners— the kind of feedback every writer, experienced or novice, can always use.
Can I work with a faculty member? Yes. There are two faculty members affiliated with the Writing Center, one who specializes in working with multilingual students and one who works primarily with senior thesis writers. You can make an appointment with one of these faculty tutors by visiting the Writing Center website.
Can I be matched with a tutor who knows about my topic? Rather than offering discipline-specific help, Writing Center tutors are trained to provide generalized advice on the writing process, helping you to clarify your ideas to a non-specific reader. Tutors are meant to act as close listeners, critical readers, and sounding boards for your ideas. However, if you feel as though your assignment requires the attention of a tutor experienced in that discipline, look through the tutor biographies for someone with similar academic interests and make an appointment with that tutor.
How should I prepare for a Writing Center appointment? The Writing Center is meant to help writers at any stage of the writing process so don’t feel pressured to have a complete draft to show to a tutor. The best way to prepare is to bring in a hard copy of whatever you are working on, whether that is a prompt, an outline, or an entire draft, and think about some of the issues and challenges you have been experiencing while writing and what questions you have for the tutor. If there is a particular part of the writing process that always gives you trouble, come prepared with questions about it as your tutor can help you brainstorm creative and new ways to address it. It can also be extremely helpful if you not only bring in your work, but also the prompt and any feedback you’ve received as these resources can serve as valuable reference points for your appointment. Writing Center tutors are there to help you as a writer so the best way to prepare is simply to reflect on the assignment, your draft, and any questions that you may have.
Can the tutor read my paper before my appointment? No, the Writing Center does not accept papers beforehand. We believe that it is a valuable part of the Writing Center experience to go through the reading and revising process in real time with a peer tutor as it fosters an environment of collaboration rather than instruction. You might feel awkward for the 15 minutes or so that the tutor is reading your paper so bring something to do; this is an important part of the writing process!
Who uses the Writing Center?
- Any student writing a paper for a course in an unfamiliar discipline.
- First year students making the transition to college writing.
- Bilingual or multilingual students acquiring facility in the conventions of American academic writing.
- Seniors working on thesis drafts.
- Students writing personal essays for fellowships, graduate school, and jobs.
- Any writer needing a trained, objective, helpful reader.
When should I visit the Writing Center? Come see us at any stage of your writing, from brainstorming ideas and framing a thesis to polishing syntax and style. The earlier and more frequently you visit the Writing Center, the more time you will have to profit from the writing assistance you receive.