The Writing Center Is Here to Help

Gusties, I’m here to tell you about an incredibly useful resource here on campus: The Writing Center. As a tutor myself, I can attest to how much we at the Writing Center genuinely care about our clients. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by an assignment, in the middle of a first draft, or simply wanting a second pair of eyes, we’re here to help.
Led by Writing Center Director Eric Vrooman and staffed by 21 magnificent student tutors, the Writing Center offers free writing help to Gusties of all majors and in any stage of the writing process. We offer tutoring sessions in two different formats. The first is the “Online Appointment” where clients meet “face-to-face” with tutors over video via WCOnline, the Writing Center’s scheduling platform. The second option is “eTutoring,” which is new this year and allows clients to select an hour-long time slot, upload their paper, and have a tutor return it to them with written feedback within the hour.
Students do, of course, have multiple options for writing feedback, including their professors, friends, or family members, so what makes the Writing Center so special?
“The Writing Center is a resource for students by students,” Senior Writing Center Tutor and team leader Rebecca Steffen said.
As a current tutor myself as well as a former client, I can attest as someone who has experienced both sides to the unique value of the peer-to-peer dynamic within a tutoring session. Not only does it make conversation more comfortable, but a shared tutor-client understanding of what it means to be a Gustavus student allows us to meet clients where they’re at and according to their individual writing needs. That’s just not something you can get from family or a professor.
Furthermore, Writing Center tutors don’t just understand what it’s like to be a student but have also been deemed qualified and trained to provide you with writing advice, thus they come with a certain level of expertise. According to Junior Nathan Baring, a regular client of the Writing Center, this is quite useful.
“The Writing Center is the people who have been evaluated to know what they’re doing already in the area of writing, so they kind of fill that void where you don’t trust your own judgement but you don’t really have the ability to just constantly harass the professor all the time,” Baring said.
Indeed, while each tutor might add their own personal style, we’re all trained in strategies designed to make you, the client, a better writer. Our goal is to help you work through your own ideas and put them into words, all while allowing you the flexibility to address what you think needs addressing.
A typical session will begin with a conversation between tutor and client about what specifically the client needs.
“We just get to sit down, learn about what you’re writing about, and have a conversation about what you’ve learned and what you want to achieve in your paper,” Steffen said.
Once the tutor and client have discussed the assignment and collaborated on a list of goals for the session, the reading begins. At the Writing Center, we like to do that part out loud.
“It always helps to be able to hear your words in order and it’s a really good way to catch some sentences that you might want to tweak, or even some ideas that you might want to tweak,” Steffen said.
Trust me, it really works. There’s just something about hearing your words out loud that prevents your mind from auto filling the text with the concepts and words that you already understand, but that your reader may not.
Now, some of you all might be reading all this and thinking “I’m a great writer. I don’t need a tutor.” Well, as true as that may be, tutors aren’t just reserved for those who find writing more challenging. Everyone, even professional writers, can always improve their writing, and we are a free resource for doing just that. Take advantage of it because… why not?
Furthermore, as someone who has been both a client and tutor, I can tell you that even if you think you have it all together, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes take a look. You never know what you’ll miss after spending three hours staring eyes-glazed at a computer screen, so it’s great to get a reader’s perspective. And remember, you can take and leave tutors’ feedback as you please.
Now on the other hand, some of you students out there might avoid the Writing Center for a different reason: because you’re shy, uncomfortable, or embarrassed at the prospect of showing your writing to a tutor. Well, you know what? That’s why we’re here. Our job is to help you improve your writing skills so that sharing your work doesn’t have to feel like such a big leap. As Baring points out, we’re here to help, not to judge.
“The Writing Center is being paid to read your work and help you,” Baring said. “They don’t care if you’re a bad writer.”
In fact, Writing Center tutors recognize that sharing your writing isn’t easy, and they admire clients for taking that risk.
“I honestly have so much gratitude for clients who meet with me and are vulnerable in their sharing of their written projects. It’s so beautiful to hear other Gusties’ written voices and be able to learn about a variety of written topics in one night,” Steffen said.
So please, come visit us at the Writing Center. To schedule an appointment, go to the Writing Center web page on the Gustavus website, click “Make an Appointment” on the left-hand side, and create an account with our scheduling platform. Next, choose the tutor and time slot that makes sense for you, fill out the brief questionnaire, and don’t forget to indicate whether you want an Online appointment or eTutoring. Come soon, we’d love to have you.

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