Writing Center FAQ
Where is the Writing Center located, and when is it open?
You’ll find the Writing Center in Young 140. Our regular hours are Monday—Thursday afternoons, 2-4, and Sunday—Thursday evenings, 7-11. The average consultation lasts approximately 40 minutes; for this reason, we reserve the right to turn down writers who arrive at 10:30 or later. Please plan accordingly!
Please note that, unless otherwise advertised, the Writing Center is closed on Sunday evenings before classes resume following breaks (for example, the last Sunday of Fall and Spring Breaks). The Writing Center is closed during finals week. Consultants have to study, too!
What should I bring with me to my consultation?
If your professor gave you a writing prompt, please bring it for the benefit of us all! Writing Center consultants reserve the right to send you back to your room to find it if you show up without it. If you are working with a specific text, bring that too, and mark any particularly important passages. Bring your notes and any drafts you may have written, preferably hard copies. If you absolutely must, you can bring in a laptop. However, most consultants prefer working with a printed copy. If you have a draft that your professor has made comments on, by all means make those changes and ask your professor for any further clarification you might need, and bring those items along.
Do I have to make an appointment? And can I make an appointment outside of regular hours?
No, you do not have to schedule an appointment during regular Writing Center hours. Those hours are open to drop-ins and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. To make an appointment outside our regular hours, email email@example.com; we do not guarantee that consultants will be available at your preferred time.
How long does a consultation last?
The average consultation lasts about 40 minutes, and it is not uncommon for them to be longer. The Center is staffed so that there is little wait time for students, but at certain times of the semester can be quite busy. Chances are, if it’s the week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you are not the only person on campus feeling stressed; plan your visit to the Writing Center accordingly.
How can I contact the Writing Center?
There are several ways to communicate with Writing Center staff. You may e-mail or call Writing Center Director Dr. John Kinkade (firstname.lastname@example.org, ext. 6508), or visit our Staff page to contact individual consultants.
Is it free to visit the Writing Center?
Yes. The Writing Center is an absolutely free service.
Is the Writing Center exclusively for first-year students?
No, not at all! The Writing Center fosters a sense of academic community for everyone. While first-years should take advantage of the services we offer as part of the process of acclimating to Centre’s academic culture, any student can bring in academic papers, resumes, personal statements, etc. Whether you’re frustrated and completely stumped on a paper or you’re really excited about it and just want to bounce around some ideas, give us a visit!
How does college writing differ from high school writing?
College writing departs from typical high school writing in that it happens as part of a culture of argument and understanding. The Writing Center reinforces the wider sense at Centre College that writing is a learning process first and an end-product, a text, second. The job of a Writing Center consultant is not the same as that of an editor. For that reason, Writing Center consultations will typically focus on higher-order concerns such as the thesis, the organization of ideas, evidence, and support. Elements of grammar, punctuation, and style – while not to be entirely disregarded – are secondary issues. We are more interested in helping writers articulate their ideas on paper than we are in the production of perfect prose.
How are Writing Center consultants chosen?
We accept applications each spring for the following school year. Our consultants have been successful writers at Centre and are interested in helping others improve. Applications are welcome from all majors, and you don’t need to have special knowledge of grammar to apply—we’re about far more than grammar. If you’re interested in working as a consultant, please e-mail email@example.com.
If I get help on my paper, will the College consider that plagiarism or cheating?
No, coming to the Writing Center does not threaten anyone’s academic integrity. After all, it is a service provided by the College! Do note, however, that Writing Center consultants will NOT write or edit your paper for you. Please do not abuse our service by asking a consultant to do such things. Our goal is to help students develop their own writing and editing skills, and to foster in writers a sense of ownership of their work. No one benefits in the long run if we do all the work!
What if I haven’t started writing yet?
The beginning is a wonderful place to start, so it isn’t a problem if you don’t have a draft! The Writing Center is happy to work with you at any stage in the writing process—even if you’re still working through understanding the prompt.
Can I drop my paper off to have a consultant proofread it for me?
We would love to help guide you through the editing process, but we absolutely will not proofread or edit your paper for you. Arrive at your consultation ready to work!
My paper is due tomorrow and I’m in panic mode! The Writing Center will save me, right?
We certainly won’t turn you down if you arrive at the Writing Center in a panic, because most all of us have been in that position before! However, be reasonable in what you expect from us when you bring in your three-page draft of a ten-page paper and your thesis is nowhere to be found. We are not miracle-workers, but we can help you prioritize and organize your efforts. The Writing Center is designed to be used regularly as part of the writing process, which takes planning, patience, and ample time for revisions. To maximize the benefit you will receive from the Writing Center, remember that our goal is to help writers develop and improve their writing skills — not necessarily a specific piece of writing in a single session.
The last time I visited the Center, my consultant gave me a really helpful handout. Are there any others available?
The brochures and other handouts available in the Writing Center, compiled by our very own staff, are available in PDF format on the Writing Center Resources web page.
If I come to the Writing Center, will I get a better grade?
Maybe you will, but we can’t make that guarantee. When a consultant hands in his or her paper, he or she does not know what grade the paper will receive; neither can a consultant be expected to grade your paper. We can’t read professors’ minds (and it’s possible we may be unfamiliar with yours), and you as writer maintain authorship and ownership of the text you produce.
A Writing Center consultant will never rewrite your paper for you; consultants have, at no point in the process, any control over what you include in your paper. We are, however, confident that our services, when utilized regularly, will encourage writers to take a more thoughtful approach to writing. One of the skills we work on is thinking more consciously about how, why, and what you write.
I took my paper to the Writing Center, and I did worse than I would have otherwise! Jerks!
That isn’t a question, nor is it a frequent response, but we will tackle it anyway. First, we at the Writing Center will be the first to admit that not every consultation ends in sweetness and light. That said, are you sure that you would have done better if you had not come in? Frankly, some students come to us with unrealistic ideas about where their writing is and what we can do for them. You may drop by to have someone just “check your grammar,” but we’re going to engage with your writing and really pay attention to it. Just because you bring it in the night before, thinking that it’s done, doesn’t mean that it’s done. If your argument is undeveloped, if you don’t have a thesis, or if your logic is muddled, we might be able to point that out, but we can’t magically solve the problems.
We’d recommend that you bring your next piece of writing in more than once and earlier than the night before it’s due. That’s when we’re able to do our best work, which is to help you do your best work. So quit calling us jerks! (If you do still perceive there to be a problem, please contact Writing Center director Dr. John Kinkade).