A virtual friend: the Writing Center

Victoria Lendino, Contributing Writer

Six weeks into the Fall 2020 semester, students are beginning to enter a routine of assignments and exams, papers and labs. As this can be stressful for students of any class year, the University has made a variety of resource centers available to help in the process. One of these resources is the Writing Center, which offers individualized support sessions for students as well as faculty members who need assistance in all areas of the writing process. Whether it be brainstorming, grammar revisions, editing advice or a read from another set of eyes, the Writing Center is available and eager to help. 

Comprised of students and faculty in various departments, the team of consultants has the main goal of helping other peers and faculty develop and clarify their pieces of writing. “When a writer comes in, we really form their sessions around whatever they need and whatever they want to get out of it,” student consultant Carrie Baeckstrom ’21 said.

“Some students were surprised to learn that they do not need a draft in order to meet with a peer writing consultant,” faculty Writing and Teaching Consultant Peg Cronin, said. “They can just share their assignment and brainstorm ideas, maybe even pause to do some writing during the session and then revise that with the consultant.”

As both Baeckstrom and Cronin explained, the Writing Center’s duty is to aid students and faculty in whatever way suits them best. Thus, in addition to individual sessions, the Writing Center offers multiple writing workshops throughout the year. These workshops exist with the intent of helping students and faculty focus on their writing in one specific field, such as pieces for graduate school, resumes or beyond. In these settings, multiple students work together with writing consultants, providing a different and more collaborative feel to the process.


The Writing Center and COVID-19

As with many things on campus this year, the Writing Center has slightly changed to allow for writing guidance in a safe, healthy way. All Writing Center sessions are being held remotely over Zoom, with the maximum time of one session being one hour. Despite this time limit, a student can have as many sessions as desired on one single piece.

Cronin highlights this as she explained how many students at the University use the Writing Center as a reminder of sorts. “Some students use appointments as a kind of time management insurance,” she said. “Some students who are undertaking longer projects — such as an honors proposal, a senior thesis or a senior design project in engineering — come in weekly or every other week to get feedback and to stay on track by using the appointments as mini-deadlines.” 

At this time, there are two modes of booking an appointment: the first is to call the Writing Center at (570) 577-3141 (Note – This number is only available during active office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.), while the second avenue to book an appointment is through the link provided on the Writing Center page on the University’s website. This link will take you to a webpage where you will be prompted to select either a time slot with a writing consultant or a Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) tutor on TutorTrac. TLC tutors are only available in a limited number of courses, and their time and availability differ from that of Peer Writing Consultants. More information on TLC tutors is available on the University’s website under the tutoring section.

When your preferred session slot is selected, you will then be asked to submit an ideal time for your appointment. If available, this session will be reserved and your session will be booked. Appointments are open afternoons from Monday through Friday and evenings from Sunday through Thursday. To accommodate the necessary changes due to COVID-19, the Writing Center has extended their available sessions to include Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening as well.


What You Can Bring

The Writing Center is designed to be at the students’ and faculties’ disposal for any number of writing projects. The list of possible items to bring ranges from term papers to minor assignments, creative writing to research-based pieces, resumes to applications and everything in-between. “We’ve seen a number of students working on internship applications, resumes and cover letters, honors thesis proposals, and personal statements and essays for grad school, law school or medical school,” Cronin said.

Additionally, the Writing Center isn’t just for assigned work. Consultants are available to help with any personal projects or individual pieces as well.


Feedback So Far

Already six weeks into the fall term, many students and faculty alike have utilized the Writing Center this semester, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“I’ve heard from a few professors already this semester who say that students who have chosen to meet with someone in the Writing Center have really benefited from their sessions,” Cronin said.

Baeckstrom echoed this sentiment, explaining that this success could, in part, be due to the wide array of backgrounds the Peer Writing Consultants come from. “We have students from every grade, every major, grad students, even faculty using the Writing Center,” Baeckstrom said. “It’s a really heavily used tool throughout campus.”

As assignments continue to pile up, consider booking an appointment with a Writing Center consultant in order to alleviate some stress and improve the overall quality and experience of your piece.

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