Writing Center Picture

A tutor at the writing center helping an international student with essays, April 4, 2018.

Writing can pose a challenge to students in all courses of study. It’s not just STEM majors that cringe at the thought of pouring their hearts into a narrative speech or engineering majors that would rather solve a page of math problems than craft a discussion post. One of the most effective resources on campus to guide students who might want some extra assistance is the Writing Center. Located on the second floor of Newman Library, the center offers peer reviewing and coaching services during any stage of the writing process. Skilled coaches can meet in person and virtually to give advice, review previous work and guide students to a finished product they’re proud of. 

According to the Virginia Tech Library, the Writing Center was founded in the late 1970s. Jennifer Lawrence, its current director, and Dr. Diana George grew the program and space into what it is today.  It was originally in Shanks Hall but moved to Newman Library in 2012. Its overarching mission is to provide resources and coaching to students writing anything from essays to cover letters.

The coaches are fellow students that completed the tutoring course English 3744H: Writing Center Theory and Practice. Not all are English majors -– in fact, the diversity in age and majors of the student coaches helps relate and adapt to the experience and writing styles of the students looking for help. Students in different years and majors may run into different problems in writing, and the experienced coaching staff can take that into consideration and tailor their feedback to the writer. 

Scheduling an appointment might not be at the forefront of students’ minds when writing, but waiting until the deadline is looming may heighten stress and anxiety about the assignment. Booking an appointment at least a week before the deadline gives most students enough time to come up with a polished draft and then revise after meeting with a coach. 

“My advice is to schedule a writing center appointment early – and give yourself a goal to have a rough draft (or even just an outline, or some freewriting) completed before you go,” Lawrence said. “We help a lot of students manage their time and therefore reduce their stress around writing.” 

Any skill level can benefit from coaching. Students that utilize the Writing Center come in with any assignment, from the first speech in a public speaking class to a graduate school dissertation. 

“The number one thing my coaches do is to ask the student what they need help on,” Lawrence said. “What do they want out of the meeting? And then we take it from there.

Students can schedule an appointment using https://vt.mywconline.com/, and there are also drop-in appointments that can be available. Writing does not have to be a struggle students must trudge through to pass a class; the Writing Center can guide anyone to feel confident in their writing abilities.

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