HELP! I’m required to “go to the Writing Center!”

I get it. Your professor is making you come to the Writing Center. Maybe you’re an upperclassman. Maybe a freshman that has been writing for years. In fact, maybe you’ve written a thousand of 3-4 pagers. You’re a pro, really. In sum, an appointment in the Writing Center is a waste of your time.

So, is the best way to deal with this thirty minutes to sit back, put a grumpy look on your face, and speak as few words as possible?

The requirement for all students in a class to visit the Writing Center before turning in an assignment is not uncommon. However, the attitude described above is also dependent on a complete misunderstanding of what the Writing Center is all about.

Usually, students who act this way think that the Writing Center is a place for freshmen who have never written a paper. Or, these students think that the Writing Center is a proofreading workshop. Thus, since their papers are grammatically correct and maybe even have a pretty good argument, they think they really can’t benefit from the Writing Center.

Luckily for you who have mastered the basics, the Writing Center can still be beneficial. In fact, some of my most interesting and productive appointments have been with graduate students and sophisticated writers; we have really been able to dive in to papers in order to look past the surface of a paper into its substance beneath.

What I’ve found by working here is that all writers, whether upperclassmen, English majors, or graduate students, can benefit from a writing center. No paper is perfect, no essay initially rock-solid, by the first or even third draft. So, even if you think your essay is already an “A” paper, why not try to get the most out of your appointment and improve yourself as a writer?

Here are some to tips for students required to go to the Writing Center:

1. It starts with attitude: come in willing to make changes. The session will not be productive if you are closed to any suggestions. Even if you think you’re paper is already good enough, why not improve it even more?

2. Prepare questions beforehand . If you think you already have a strong argument, ask how can you push it further. Have you addressed any counter-arguments that may be made? Have you considered all aspects of your topic? By coming prepared, we can immediately dive right in to improving the paper.

3. What do you generally struggle with during your writing process? No one, really, is ever a “pro” at writing papers. What is your weak spot? Consultants and students can talk about these issues in order to improve future papers.

Remember, the Writing Center is not only for  beginner writers; it is a space for all types of writers, and we will meet you where you are. So, if you are required to go to the Writing Center for class, make the most of it. In fact, you may even find that you want to come back on your own.

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