Title

Common Questions About the Writing Center

Answers to questions about the how the Writing Center operates, how to make appointments, what to expect, and more.

How the Writing Center Works

The Writing Center has two main goals: to help students from all disciplines develop their academic writing skills and to foster advanced writers across the College.

We are committed to helping students see writing as central to critical and creative thinking. We work with folks at any stage of the writing process, from pre-writing through drafting, revising, and editing.

We believe in helping people become better writers through a facilitated understanding of their own processes: we are not a drop-off editing service, but rather a holistic, caring, and professional place where undergraduate, graduate, staff, and faculty writers can discover fruitful, clear ways to best express and explain their thoughts and research.

We will help you at any stage of the writing process, from pre-writing through drafting, revising, and editing. We believe in helping people become better writers through a facilitated understanding of their own processes: we are not a drop-off editing service, but rather a holistic, caring, and professional place where undergraduate, graduate, staff, and faculty writers can discover fruitful, clear ways to best express and explain their thoughts and research.

Not exactly. The Writing Center is not a drop-off editing service. We do not fix papers for students nor are we simply proofreaders. Rather, we work on the writing process in collaboration with writers. But this means your tutor will help you see and work on difficulties in your paper, and that includes looking at sentence structure and grammar.

Please bring everything connected to the assignment or anything you think might be helpful for your tutor to look at or for you to reference during the conference. You might bring things like the assignment sheet, the course syllabus, any sources you are using, or class notes, or log in to your class’s Sakai site. If you already have a draft, great! If not, please bring ideas, an outline, or even just a list of questions to help focus the conference.

We are a tutoring service, not an editing service, so come prepared to assume an active role in the conference. Our goal is to help you become a better, more confident writer. We can best do this when you are willing to participate actively -- by explaining your concerns and needs, by asking specific questions about your paper, by trying to answer the questions your tutor will ask you, and by assuming the responsibility of your paper.

The tutor, whether peer or faculty, is here to help and support you in becoming a better writer by working with you collaboratively. You can expect the tutor to help you identify your successes and your problems in the paper, learn strategies and techniques for solving those problems, and clarify your ideas and communicate them clearly to your readers.

Our tutors are trained to manage the time of a session carefully, but sometimes there is simply too much to cover in one session. If this is the case, your tutor will recommend you schedule a second appointment. If you do not have the time for another appointment, your tutor will help you make a plan to accomplish your goal so you are prepared to work on your own.

More than a day before the essay is due! If your paper is rather lengthy, your assignment complex, or for any reason you think you might need more than an hour of tutoring, try to make the first appointment far before the deadline to give yourself the option to return. We all do our best work if we aren’t in a hurry.

While many students who use the Writing Center will notice a steady improvement in their writing and often in their grades, we do not guarantee any grades or second-guess a professor’s standards.

Both undergraduate students and Writing Department faculty work in the Writing Center. Our peer tutors receive extensive training and come from across departments. For more information on our individual tutors, check out our Meet the Peer Tutors page!

New tutors take a one-credit pedagogy class that introduces tutors to techniques, styles, skills, and cultural/interpersonal issues important to tutoring. All tutors participate in ongoing mentorship and additional training throughout their time with the Center.

Each spring the Writing Center hires for the following school year. The job announcement will be posted on the student employment site as well as on Intercom, and those wishing to apply go through a multi-step hiring process. We accept applications from all students in the Ithaca College community, regardless of major. For more information about the job, qualifications, and the hiring process please refer to Becoming a Writing Tutor.

Anyone affiliated with the college! That includes students, faculty, and staff.

Nothing! We are a free service.

All kinds! We tutor writing from classes in every discipline, from academic essays to poems and screenplays, and can help with application letters, resumes, cover letters, personal writing, or anything else.

Yes! All of our tutors are trained in working will English Language Learners and those who speak English as a second (or third, etc) or other language, and we also have certain tutors who specialize in this type of work. You can find those tutors by using the drop-down box at the top of the schedule and selecting ELL, ESL, or ESOL. Many bi- or multilingual students form long-term relationships with tutors and make great strides in their written English over the course of a semester or year.

Yes! Bring your assignment sheet, your notes or sources, and your questions, and a tutor will help you work through them. A tutor might also help you craft an email to your professor or figure out their office hours if you are very confused on a consistent basis.

Probably! Sometimes a tutor will be able to explain a professor’s written comments on a draft in a way that makes more sense to you. If neither of you can decipher the professor’s handwriting or meaning, though, the tutor might help you craft an email to your professor or figure out their office hours so that you can gain more clarity.

Yes. Sometimes accidental plagiarism comes from not really understanding how to use a citation style, and sometimes it happens because a writer has given up on understanding and trying to paraphrase difficult material. We can help you recognize when something counts as plagiarism and how to fix it.

This is okay: we work with writing at ALL stages of development, from the invention stage to the revision stage to the final editing stage. We ask that you just bring your assignment sheet, class notes, and any brainstorming or outlining you have already completed.

If you are looking for a tutor with a particular specialty, once you’ve logged into MyWCOnline you can click on the drop down that is labeled as “Limit to:” and choose the area in which your paper lies -- for examples, Cover Letters or Personal Essay. But while some tutors may be particularly involved with certain formats or subjects, all of our tutors are extensively trained: any of our tutors can help you with any assignment.

We work on hard copies in the Writing Center for a few reasons: one, the process of working on the page means that your brain will automatically notice more errors since it’s wired to view the page as static rather than the fluid way that it views the screen. Two, working on the page creates a record of the stages in your writing process and gives you more ways to recognize your patterns and methods of strengthening your writing. Three, having multiple drafts of your writing instead of one ever-changing draft helps to show both you and your professors the progress that you’re making.

No. The Writing Center never guarantees any definitive increase in grades. We will help you with your writing, your skill set and confidence, and the paper at hand, but no peer or faculty tutor can guarantee how a professor will respond to or grade a paper.

Available Resources

Writing tutors are available for class visits, a typically ten-minute presentation wherein a peer tutor will explain the purpose and processes of the Writing Center and take your students through using the scheduling system as well as answer any questions they or you might have. Tutors can also run brief workshops in citations styles such as MLA or APA, taking your students through the typical questions and the resources at their disposal, or the writing process. If you would like a class visit, please contact the director, Professor Jaime Warburton, at jwarburton@ithaca.edu.

No. If the schedule is already full by the time you realize you'd like an appointment, please use the Waiting List feature (click on the clock icon to add your name), attend one of our drop-in events, or come by on the half hour to see if you're able to walk in. Please do not contact our tutors directly asking them to work off the books.

No, the Writing Center is not currently funded during winter or summer breaks. If you wish it were, please contact the director at jwarburton@ithaca.edu.

Yes: The Writing Center will be holding virtual sessions only Fall 2020. You may make an appointment on the schedule as usual, but we will not see you face-to-face.

Only during a conference with a tutor. For other printing needs, please visit the lab in CNS.

We are open during the academic year from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday and 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM Sunday through Thursday.

No, we do not review papers or essays before the tutoring session. One of our core tenets is helping to build stronger writers, not just stronger papers, which means we emphasize functional, hands-on collaboration. When you come in for your session, we will be reading through your work together.

No, we are not a drop-off editing service. When you come in for your session, we will be reading through and talking about your work together. One of our core tenets is helping to build stronger writers, not just stronger papers, which means we emphasize functional, hands-on collaboration.

Although we have no specifically designated drop-in hours, a tutor on duty may be free and able to help you. However, there’s no guarantee, so we strongly recommend making an appointment. We are often booked up, especially around midterms and finals time.

We strongly recommend making appointments. Each appointment is for one full hour, although some shorter assignments may not take up the full amount of time. To make an appointment, visit ithaca.mywconline.com. Make sure to register for an account if it is your first time, as this website is not linked with NetPass. If you want help, feel free to call the center at 607-274-3315.

To make an appointment, visit ithaca.mywconline.com. Make sure to register for an account if it is your first time, as this website is not linked with NetPass. If you want help, feel free to call the center at 607-274-3315.

If you need an appointment during a day when all of our tutors are booked, click on the clock icon to the left of the date on the schedule and hit Join the Waitlist. This means you will be notified via email if anyone cancels their appointment. This service does not automatically make an appointment for you, although it will notify you if a time becomes available. If you get that notification, log back on and make one yourself. Some people book far in advance while planning their classes, and you can do the same.

Yes: click on the clock icon to the left of the date on MyWCOnline and hit Join the Waitlist. This means you will be notified via email if anyone cancels their appointment. This service does not automatically make an appointment for you, although it will notify you if a time becomes available. If you get that notification, log back on and make one yourself. Some people book far in advance while planning their classes, and you can do the same.

We ask that you try to be on time, but we understand that sometimes things happen. If you know your class always ends five minutes late, so you will be ten minutes late to your Writing Center appointment, please mention that in comments section of the form you fill out when you make the appointment. If you are unexpectedly running late but are still coming, please call us at 607-274-3315 and let us know. If 25 minutes after the start of your scheduled appointment you are still not there, however, we will cancel your session. This kind of cancellation counts as a no-show. Having more than three no-shows will automatically disable your account.

If you discover you can’t make it to your appointment, please cancel it by logging into your MyWCOnline account. If you don’t cancel, your missed appointment will count as a no-show. Having more than three no-shows will automatically disable your account.

When you sign up for an appointment, we dedicate a full hour to you and your needs. However, sometimes certain very brief assignments may not need the the full hour. If you have more than one very short assignment, you can bring them both to your session.

We are willing to help with group papers. It is most effective if all your group members are able to come to the appointment as it allows for the most productive conversation about your assignment. We also ask that you let us know when you sign up for your appointment if a session will be with a group so that the tutor can be prepared to work with all of you.

Technically, yes. If you work well with or like the style of a particular tutor, we encourage you to continue booking appointments with them. We have clients who come see the same tutor as regularly as once or twice a week, every week, and this has many benefits for both you and the tutor. Unfortunately, though, we are still limited by our schedule itself, and we cannot guarantee that a tutor you want to work with will be always be available. If you feel strongly about working with a particular tutor, we suggest that you make future appointments in advance, to ensure that they can see you.

Everyone is allowed up to three appointments per week at the Writing Center. You can use you appointments over several days or even in one day.

Everyone is allowed up to three appointments per week at the Writing Center. You can use you appointments over several days or even in the same day.

Not back-to-back. This kind of work is hard to do for a long and continuous time, so it helps to give yourself a break. If you would like to work on multiple assignments in one afternoon, take an hour in between your appointments to implement the changes that you and your tutor talked about in your first session.

For Faculty and Staff

Yes! Some of our consultants are also faculty members, and you are free to sign up with them if you're working on an article or anything else.

Yes! The Writing Center is open to all current students, faculty, and staff.

The Writing Center focuses on building better writers, not just better papers. Rather than correcting all the typos themselves, tutors will identify issues and help clients to recognize and correct patterns in their own writing. While you will almost definitely see an improvement in a draft that has been to the Writing Center, we will not perfect the draft for the student. You will likely see a noticeable different in the writing skills (both on the sentence level and the structural level) of a student who has been visiting the Center regularly.

Please contact the director, Professor Jaime Warburton, at jwarburton@ithaca.edu.

It helps if you don’t frame a visit to the Writing Center as a punishment, remedial event, or last resort. We all benefit from a second set of eyes and assistance in writing, and you can remind your students that we’re there to help them write their papers: it’s that simple, and it’s not unpleasant.

Please do not require your entire class to visit the Writing Center for the same assignment. This strains our limited resources as we are busy serving the entire campus community.

If you like, we can provide your student with a signed form that verifies they visited the Center at the end of their appointment. Just tell your student to ask for one, as we don’t provide them as a matter of course.