WHAT TO EXPECT: Visiting the Writing Center
When you come to the Writing Center, our mentors will ensure that you receive the best assistance possible. At the Writing Center, you can expect to have an individual conference with a trained undergraduate or graduate student. Conferences are always free of charge and last between 30 and 60 minutes. They offer you a unique opportunity to talk about your writing in a friendly, no-pressure environment.
What is a writing conference?
A writing conference is simply a conversation between two people about a piece of writing. Most conferences begin with introductions, when the mentor asks a writer why he or she came: what kind of paper he or she is writing, the assignment requirements, current stage of the writing process, the goals for the paper, and areas of concern that should be addressed during the conference.
Writing mentors don’t tell people what to write. Instead, they work with each writer to figure out how the writer wants to proceed with a piece of writing. Our mentors treat each student and conversation individually, directing conferences based on the writer’s own writing goals.
A writing conference is...
- a conversation about writing
- a collaborative experience between a writer and a reader
- a stress-free place to ask questions and receive guidance
- a time to focus on writing issues you want to talk about
A writing conference is not...
- an occasion for someone to tear apart your paper
- a time when someone tells you what to change and how to do it
- a graded session
- an editing service (see our Policy on Proofreading)
To make the most of your conference...
- bring a hard copy of your draft or paper
- bring in your class assignment description/prompt
- come in with ideas about where you need feedback or guidance
- use the appointment as a mini-deadline, so that you have time to continue revising the paper before it is due
- ask lots of questions
Writing mentors can help you with any aspect of the writing process, including the following:
- understanding assignments and figuring out how to approach them
- finding and developing topics
- formulating thesis sentences
- generating evidence, creating a research plan and learning about reading strategies
- organizing and structuring a paper
- revising your work
- improving clarity
- moving past writer's block
What kinds of writing can I work on at the Writing Center?
We are committed to supporting all Pacific students in assignments across all disciplines. You can come to the Student Writing Center with any kind of writing, at any stage of the process, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Pacific Seminar essays
- research papers and proposals
- literature reviews
- critical essays
- lab reports
- personal statements
- personal narratives
- senior capstone projects
Can I see the same writing mentor more than once?
Yes. You may want to work with one mentor during the course of writing one paper so you can work together throughout the stages of the paper. Or you may find that a certain writing mentor has expertise in the type of writing you are working on. Either way, when you make an appointment you may request a specific mentor.
You may also find it beneficial to work with different mentor to get a variety of perspectives on your writing.
Will my instructor know that I've been to the Writing Center?
Yes. The mentor will get your information and fill out a simple report that is forwarded to your instructor. This report contains the name of the assignment you worked on and an overview of what you focused on during the conference. Instructors appreciate the reports because it allows them to get a better sense of your writing process and in turn, better support your work. Instructors also appreciate knowing that you took the initiative to come into the Writing Center.
What are the differences between proofreading, editing and working on grammar?
Proofreading is a professional error-checking service that is usually paid for. Editing is a process used to bring a paper to a final draft in order to make a paper presentable to a reader. "Grammar" is an umbrella term that can refer to punctuation use, sentence structure, or the conventions of Standard American English.
During a conference, writing mentors can help with editing strategies and grammar, but they cannot proofread. We avoid proofreading in the Writing Center because it doesn’t require collaboration, and therefore provides fewer benefits than an exchange between a reader and a writer.
How do I cancel or reschedule an appointment?
Most conferences at the Writing Center occur without an appointment: we have a very relaxed and informal first-come, first-served drop-in policy. But if you choose to make an appointment (either by contacting the coordinator of the Writing Center or by writing your name in the appointment book), please let us know as soon as you can if you need to cancel. You can either call the center, email the coordinator, or stop by to let us know.
There are many good reasons to cancel or reschedule – but not finishing a draft isn’t one of them! A writing conference can help you move beyond writer’s block, brainstorm organization, or help spark new writing ideas, so please come in even if you didn’t get as much writing done as you had planned.
How often can I come in?
You may come in as often as you like, depending on demand. At slower times during the semester, some students come in as often as twice a week. Other students prefer weekly visits. There are certain times of the semester, particularly during midterms and the last few weeks, when the Writing Center is exceptionally busy and weekly appointments may not be possible.
Will the writing mentors judge or grade me?
Definitely not. Our writing mentors are students just like you, and they understand how difficult writing can be. They are here to help you improve your writing in a friendly, non-judgmental atmosphere. No question is too obvious at the Writing Center.
What kind of qualifications does your staff have?
Our writing mentors come from all different majors within the university and are both graduate and undergraduate students. We hire writing mentors who possess strong writing and reading skills and bring with them experience in peer tutoring, teaching, writing, and leading. Our mentors also come highly recommended from their professors at Pacific. All writing mentors attend training workshops at the beginning of each semester, and they receive additional training from the coordinator of the writing center throughout the semester.