Writing Center FAQs


Q: Who can use the tutoring services?

A: Any SOU undergraduate student can use the writing center, free of charge. We work with everyone from First Year USEM students to seniors finishing up capstone projects. Talking to a tutor helps struggling writers become more skilled and helps good writers become even better. Students are welcome to bring papers from any course for discussion.

Q: How does a tutoring session work?

A: We believe that most writers, most of the time can benefit from talking to a friendly-but-critical reader about what they are writing. During the session, the student and the tutor work together to choose a priority for the session. The most productive sessions occur at the planning, drafting, and revising stages, when you still have enough time to rethink your ideas, your argument, and your evidence in creative and constructive ways. At these stages, a tutor will ask lots of questions to get you to clarify your claims and strengthen your arguments. Ideally, this conversational exploration will prompt you to refine both the argument and the prose for clarity and power.

Q: Why can't you just fix my paper for me?

A: We've all heard that old proverb that says "Give people fish and they eat for a day, teach them to fish and they never go hungry." This is how we approach tutoring: we're not trying to give you a great paper; we're trying to teach you how to write great papers yourself. Our tutoring sessions are tailored and adjusted to meet your particular needs. We don't use standard lessons or worksheets; instead, we try to work with you and your specific assignment so that you get exactly what you need.

Q: Does the tutor get to decide what we work on?

A: Students get to decide what aspect of writing they would like to address. If the tutor sees a significant problem that you haven't mentioned, she will probably point it out and ask if you'd rather work on that instead, but you get to decide what to focus on.

Q: What do I need to bring to my session?

A: Bring a draft of your paper. If you have a draft ready, bring outlines, notes and ideas. You'll also need your assignment and any texts or class notes that might help.

Q: Can you consult with my professor to find out what he or she wants me to work on?

A: We do not consult directly with professors before a student comes into the Writing Center. We respond to papers based on our knowledge of academic writing in general and of certain disciplinary expectations in particular. Your tutor will provide substantial and relevant feedback on your paper, but the tutor's responses to your writing may not be exactly the same as the instructor's because all readers have different priorities and are looking for different things in a piece of writing.

Q: My professor required me to come to the Writing Center. How can I prove I was here?

A: If you had a face-to-face session in the Writing Center, and you need to prove that you were here, ask your tutor for a Verification of Visit form. Your tutor will indicate the date of your session and what you discussed. PLEASE NOTE: We only provide Verification forms when students have participated in a full session. We cannot give Verifications to students who have nothing to work on or who are not interested in participating in the tutoring process.

Q: How do I access your services?

A: SOU students can access our tutoring services in two different ways:

  • Drop-in Sessions: Come into the Writing Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Sessions usually last 30 to 50 minutes. Be aware that there is sometimes a significant wait for drop-in tutoring, especially during midterms and finals.

  • Appointment Sessions: Call ahead (at least one day in advance) to schedule an appointment with a tutor. Appointment sessions are approximately 45-50 minutes long. If you are more than ten minutes late for your scheduled time, you forfeit your session. You can reach our appointment schedulers at 541-552-8415.