To me, the Peer Learning Center is one of the most useful academic resources we have on campus. For many, it’s a safe place to let out your confusions and frustrations about the classes that you really cannot understand. Sometimes you can even find a tutor who knows the exact assignment you are confused on and how the professor you are taking it from expects it to be done. Plus, Randy and Tom are some of the hippest dudes in the Learning Commons.
However, there is one aspect of the Peer Learning Center that gets a lot more flak than it deserves: the writing center. Specifically, there is one over-arching comment that I have heard about tutoring sessions: they are just a big waste of time.
One common reasoning behind this comment is that the tutor working does not know what he/she is doing. Writing tutors are all required to take a course in tutoring in order to work in the PLC. The course is centered around reading theory on writing styles, both American and international, having practice sessions and reflecting on the best procedures to help students write well-crafted essays. In other words, writing tutors go through pretty extensive training in order to best serve you.
We may not be experts in every format your subject area is in, but we will do our best to point you in the right direction of the nearest APA or Chicago expert, whether that is at the biology table or a list of resources on the DeWitt Library page. If you are ever questioning the credentials of a writing tutor, just ask.
Second, we do realize that many of you who visit the writing center are only going because your professor is requiring it or giving out extra credit. Honestly, it is not difficult to discern which students want help and which students are “only there for the form.” The reason why students who only get help when it is required believe that a tutoring session is a waste of time is because, for them, it is. If a student comes to the center with a poorly thrown together paper hours before it is due, the tutor is forced into a position to either flounder with you for those last few moments, attempting to scrape together something of an organized essay or turn you away. Essentially, a waste of time for both parties.
However, if you come to the writing center with a positive attitude, an open mind or the willingness to actually work on your paper, your paper will improve, 100 percent guaranteed. Yes, you will have to read your paper out loud, but that practice has been proven time-and-time again to make essays sound better, regardless of if you think it is awkward or not. Yes, you are going to have to think about structure, grammar, and word choice but why would you want to stick with a mediocre essay grade when you could use the session well and create a great one?
Next time you are forced by a prof to have your paper reviewed by a writing tutor, please realize that we want to help you, but we cannot if you do not want us to.