Acing Your Papers: Tips & Tricks from Writing Center T

By Allison Davis
Elm Staff Writer

Since 1982 the Writing Center has been a part of the writing culture at Washington College. Whether it’s a literary paper for an English course, research report for a Biology lab, or a senior thesis, the Writing Center is open for all students to bring their writing at any stage of the writing process.

According to the website, the center’s mission is to support “student writers by providing an environment within which they can grow and develop, build self-awareness and confidence, and form strategies for success in courses across the curriculum.”

John Boyd, director of the Writing Center, said the center is “a student-driven office.” Their goal is create a conversation between the students and their peer writing consultants.

Writing consultants are chosen based on an interview process that occurs in the fall semester. First, applicants must obtain recommendations from faculty members, supply a writing sample, and go through an interview.  After new consultants have been chosen, they take a course during the spring semester on the writing process, how people develop as writers, and how to work with other writers.

After receiving a writing assignment, first focus on the rubric to  truly understand what the professor is asking. According to senior Maddie Zins, getting a grasp on the professor’s expectations is the best way to produce a successful paper.

Writing consultant, Maxwell van Hoven works with junior Sean Haynie in the Writing Center, located in Goldstein 106.
Writing consultant, Maxwell van Hoven works with junior Sean Haynie in the Writing Center, located in Goldstein 106.

Zins also recommends that before students decide to make an appointment with a consultant, one should know what he or she wants to accomplish. “If a writer is able to articulate what [it] is that would make the session worthwhile for him or her…we can jump right in…rather than have to…spend too much time asking questions to gather information.”

According to junior Maxwell van Hoven, the most efficient way to make sure students’ papers stay on topic is to bring the rubric to the Writing Center session. He said, “It allows the session to focus on the specific elements and questions that the student is require to address.”

Starting the writing process early allows time to meet with the professor and a Writing Center consultant. “Don’t wait until you’re frustrated with something and have no other options. Seek out feedback…early on,” said Boyd.

Waiting until the last minute may hinder students’ ability to go through the peer review and lengthy editing process. Grammatical errors often slip through the cracks if papers are procrastinated.

The main focus of writing center appointments is to discuss the writing process and encourage a conversation about the writer’s paper thus far. Sophomore Liz Stackowitz said, “I realize more [errors] when they read it to me because it’s from a different perspective than my own. It also highlights grammatical issues and made me a better writer.”

A writing center appointment can be made online through the WC website. Online, there are profiles for each writing consultant so students’ interested in making an appointment can chose their consultant based on the paper’s topic.

Appointments can be made on Monday through Friday between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in Goldstein 106 as well as Sunday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Miller Library. Aside from scheduled appointments, students also have the option to talk to consultants during the center’s drop-in only hours, Monday to Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. also on the second floor of the Miller Library.

If you are interested in becoming a peer consultant, the application is due on Oct. 3. These positions are open to first, second, and third year students.


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