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Writing Center Brochure


General FAQs

How can tutors at the Writing Center help me?

We can give you strategies to help you become a better writer--strategies for getting started on writing projects, narrowing topics, organizing and developing essays, as well as finding your own grammar and punctuation errors.  Writing Center tutors are peer tutors, meaning they are undergraduate and graduate students too -- they aren’t professors armed with red pens, and they certainly aren’t going to “rip apart” an essay.  Tutors can offer creative and collaborative methods for improving writing that you can use later on your own (a tutor might help visually outline an essay on a whiteboard, cut an essay into sections to reorganize it, etc.)

Can I drop off a writing project to be proofread?

We do not proofread dropped-off essays because we do something that will benefit you even more: we will work with you on any writing project, helping you both identify the strengths and weaknesses in your essays and develop effective approaches for revising on your own.

What happens during a Writing Center session?

The conference will most likely begin with the tutor asking what you would like to focus on. If you want to work on a draft of an essay, the tutor will first read it and ask you to share your view of the work. The tutor will then probably ask about any sections that seem unclear or need further development. For example, the tutor may ask, "Would you explain further what you mean here?" or "Could you give me any examples of that point?"  If there are specific things you on which you want to focus, please tell your tutor when the session begins.

Do I have to bring in a draft in order to use the Center?

No. One of the best times to meet with a tutor can be when you're just getting started on a writing project. We can help you generate ideas for your essay, understand the essay's purpose and audience, and discover possible shapes the essay might take. If the assignment involves research, we can work with you on approaches for finding and using sources.

What sort of students use the Center?

Students come to the Writing Center with a broad range of writing abilities--from those with a lot of writing experience and very few writing problems to those with little writing experience and many writing problems. They also come from a variety of departments in the University and from every level, first-year to graduate. They need not be taking a composition course to attend, and all sessions are free.  Students aren’t the only ones who attend, either -- faculty and staff come to the Writing Center for help, too.

Does coming to a Writing Center mean my grades will improve?

We certainly hope so!  Our goal in the Writing Center, however, is not just to get you an A on your paper or in a class.  We want to help you improve your writing skills and establish a process for writing, both of which will help you in the long run.  These skills cannot be learned in a day, however; improvement takes time, both in your writing abilities and in your grades.

Who tutors in the Writing Center?

Writing Center tutors include graduate assistants in English as well as experienced undergraduate tutors from a variety of departments. All tutors participate in intensive training before the Centers open as well as ongoing training throughout the semester.  For the most part, tutors aren’t specialized in any one field, and they’re able to help with any assignment in any discipline.

What kinds of appointments are offered?

The Writing Center offers various services to meet differing needs.
We have regular weekly appointments available during day hours at Morris Library.  These appointments schedule you to work with the same tutor at the same time once a week for the entire semester (or until you decide you no longer want/need to attend).  There are only a few of these, however, so if you are interested, email us at write@siu.edu or call us at (618) 453-1231 when regular weekly appointments become available a few weeks into the semester.  

Single visit appointments are the most common.  You schedule your visit up to two days in advance on our website or by calling or emailing the Center, and you have a face to face consultation with a writing tutor for 45 minutes at our Morris location.  We do take groups in single visit appointments upon request, usually if two or three students are working on the same assignment or if students want assistance with a group writing project.  To arrange a group session, call or email the Center.

Online Writing Lab (OWL) appointments are scheduled the same as a single visit appointment.  Unlike a single visit, the OWL appointment takes place online in real time, so you can chat with a tutor about your paper from anywhere -- the library, your dorm, the other side of the country, anywhere with an internet connection.

Don’t have an appointment?  Walk-in appointments are sometimes available.  When an appointment is open, when a student doesn’t show up for their appointment within ten minutes after the hour, or when an appointment ends early, we can fit you in.  Keep in mind that priority is given to students who have not yet been seen that week, and that drop-ins are first come, first serve -- there is no waiting list.

How can I schedule an appointment?

Single-visit appointments are available two days in advance (i.e., appointments on Thursday are available starting 12:00 AM Tuesday). For in-person single-visits, you may click the link on the left-hand sidebar to schedule an appointment at Morris, or you may contact the Center by phone or email. Online (OWL) appointments are scheduled the same way, but if you’re scheduling online, you’ll need to navigate to the Online schedule rather than the Morris schedule.

Regular weekly appointments require special registration, so to schedule one of these, call or stop by our Morris location during open hours once regular weekly appointments become available. Group single-visits are available, but cannot be scheduled online -- like a regular weekly, you must call, email, or stop by Morris.

How many times can I visit the Writing Center?

You can have one pre-scheduled appointment, one regular weekly appointment, and one drop-in per week.  This limit is in place so we can help as many students as possible.

 Online Writing Lab (OWL) FAQs

How does the process of using our online services work?

Before you can make an appointment with an SIUC Writing Center tutor and upload the paper you wish to work on, you will need to create an account through the WCOnline site at write.siu.edu. When you create an account, you will be asked to explain what you would like to work on during this particular tutoring session. To learn more about how to use the OWL click on the OWL video guide.

What can the Writing Center tutors help me with?

In the OWL, just as in our on-site Writing Center locations, our tutors can help you develop effective writing strategies--strategies for getting started on writing projects, narrowing topics, organizing and developing essays, and finding your own grammar and punctuation errors.

Who are your tutors?

All of SIUC's OWL tutors are students at SIUC. The tutors you work with online are the same tutors that work in our on-site locations. The Writing Center staff consists of graduate assistants in English and experienced undergraduate tutors from a variety of departments. All tutors participate in intensive training before the Centers open, and specialized training continues throughout the semester. In most cases, graduate student writers will want to select graduate tutors.

What are the system requirements for using this service?

WCOnline runs best on Google chrome or Mozilla Firefox 2 or later. Other browsers may not load the online tutoring module properly. The WCOnline program that we use for our tutoring session recognizes only .doc files, so please save your papers in .doc format, even if you are using Office 2007 or 2010 (.docx).

When is the OWL available?

The OWL is currently being offered for a limited number of tutoring hours. Please check the WCOnline scheduling page for available appointment times.

How do I make an appointment?

You can make an appointment for an online session by logging on to the WCOnline site at siu.mywconline.com. This URL will take you immediately to our online scheduling page.

What if I don't have an essay draft?

While it is usually the case that we work with tutees on some aspect of a paper draft, there are times when a tutee needs help generating ideas and getting started on a paper. If you need help with this aspect of a writing project, specify this on the form you fill out when scheduling an appointment. These sessions will tend to be more exclusively talk-based rather than being a mix of talk-based (chat-based) and draft-based (text-based), but can be equally beneficial to you. However, if you have been working on a draft and want help with text-based concerns, you will need to upload a draft of your paper when you schedule your appointment, or no later than one hour before your appointment begins.

Where can I find resources and examples to help me improve my paper?

The SIUC OWL has a library of handouts available online for your use. These include guidelines for all aspects of the writing process, including getting started, writing introductions and conclusions, writing research papers, and general grammar, punctuation, and syntax rules, to name just a few. The handouts can be accessed on our regular Writing Center website at write.siu.edu.

What if I prefer to meet with a tutor face to face rather than online?

If you are on the SIUC campus, you have the option of meeting with a tutor in one of our campus locations. To make an appointment, call us at (618)453-1231.

What do I do once I have made an appointment?

Once you've scheduled an appointment with an online tutor, you will need to upload your paper and log in to your online tutoring appointment. Follow the directions provided in the tutorial for uploading your paper and logging into WCOnline for your scheduled appointment.

How do I submit my paper?

For directions on submitting your paper, see the tutorial on the by clicking on this link.

Is there a limit to the number of pages I can submit?

Although there is no hard coded limit built into the online tutoring program, do keep in mind that your time with a tutor is limited. As such, tutors will generally be able to work through only about five pages in detail.

What happens when the tutoring session is over?

Once your session is over, you may request a conference summary to go to your instructor, informing him or her of what you worked on with your tutor, and what your next steps will be for this paper, as well as some things you will continue to work on to improve your writing. We would also request that you fill out the post-session evaluation provided through the WCOnline tutoring site. This evaluation lets us know how we are doing and what we can improve on to make your online tutoring experience more productive.

How many appointments can I make?

In order to meet the needs of more students, you may make only one online tutoring session per week.

Is my personal information protected?

Yes! The personal information that you provide to the SIUC OWL and WCOnline is used strictly for tutoring and statistical purposes; it will not be shared with outside parties.