The Writing Center at CSU
Whether we acknowledge it or not, there’s a negative connotation when it comes to asking for help in college. This has especially become the case when we need help from a tutor. However, there are some times we really do need another’s input. Writing assignments are no exception to this, even for upper-level English majors. This is why many students utilize a great resource on campus: the Writing Center.
The Writing Center is a place where students can come for any subject or background to receive writing supervision and assistance. The Writing Center itself sees as many as 105 students a week varying from Bridge program students and typical English courses in need of grammar and structure assistance to students looking for citation and formatting help for psychology and Christian studies papers.
The Writing Center sees these focuses, and many other surprising ones like aeronautics and computer science. Writing Center tutors come from different areas of study as well. While most are English majors or graduates with an English degree, the Writing Center also employs students with backgrounds or majors in Christian studies, business, communications, computer science, education, psychology, biology, kinesiology, and even math! Students can even search for the subject they are writing a paper for to help them find a tutor with that focus. This comes in handy for both the student and the tutor as tutors will better understand formatting and some content and would then be able to better suggest any changes that may need to be made.
No matter the subject, writing tutors are able to help students through many of the various stages of writing. However, there are some things tutors aren’t able to or may not be as greatly equipped to help with. The Writing Center often sees students make appointments for early stages of the process, looking for assistance with brainstorming and resource gathering. This is a rather difficult topic to help with, especially for students coming in without any previous ideas. Writing tutors do try their best to help with these needs, nonetheless.
Tutors also come across issues that go against the university’s academic policy. The Writing Center sees appointments in which students don’t come prepared with ideas or sources and don’t participate throughout the appointment, indicating a desire for it to be done for them. While it is a rare occasion that these appointments occur, this shows the same to tutors as the student asking for the paper to be written for them – something they are unable to do as it would count as cheating. Plagiarism and other forms of uncredited copying are also issues the Writing Center sees at times, especially given the rise of technology like ChatGPT and BingChat. While plagiarism is not something the Writing Center is directly looking for, tutors are careful to consider tone, technicality, and the information of the paper itself, as these are key indicators of human versus computer/AI writing. Please be sure anything brought to the Writing Center is original, as tutors are required to report plagiarism to the university.
While the Writing Center deals a lot with paper assistance, the most common appointments tutors have are Bridge appointments. CSU requires Bridge students to take English 099 before being able to move on to traditional freshman English classes. This is different from other courses in that tutors review important topics of the English language and grammar. This can include lessons from punctuation and parts of speech to paper types and participles. The point of these lessons (and the Bridge program) is to better prepare these students for the freshman classes and help them become more comfortable in their English ability.
For some tutors, seeing their Bridge students is their favorite part of the day. Karleigh Hixon, who’s in her third year of tutoring, says that she appreciates the relationships she gets to form with these students throughout the semester. She says overall at the Writing Center there’s a “community [that] it cultivates” that she’s really enjoyed being a part of. During Bridge appointments, tutors feel the impact they’re making when the student walks away better knowing the material. This goes for other tutors for overall appointments as well. First-year tutor Samantha Strutz says her favorite part, no matter the appointment, is getting to see “the lightbulb moments” students have when they truly understand material.
Dr. Carissa Smith, supervisor of the Writing Center, shares a similar sentiment. She said she “loves overhearing interactions between tutors and writers.” This interaction is one that she knows very well, as she herself was a writing tutor throughout the many years of her college education, even serving as a supervisor as a senior in her undergraduate studies.
Smith has held the position since 2017, nine years after coming to CSU, and has helped the Writing Center become a place students can be comfortable coming to for help and working in for tutors. She likes to be able to call it a “home away from home” for herself and says it’s full of “quirky, delightful tutors who are devoted to equipping other writers with the skills to communicate their thoughts effectively.”
Tutors work anywhere between four and eight hours a week and are usually scheduled one hour to three hours a day every day. Students can make an appointment this semester anytime from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays in Norris 209 or 6-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 7-9 Thursday in the South Carolina Room of the Rivers Library.
There are several ways that appointments are offered: in-person, online (in a video meeting), or through eTutoring (an appointment in which students submit their paper with the appointment creation and receive feedback on without having to meet face to face with anyone). In-person appointments are always highly recommended for all stages of the writing process, especially near the beginning. Online tutoring serves best for those unable to be on campus or unable to come into the Writing Center due to illness. eTutoring is a process which is truly best for writers towards the end stages of writing, especially those with a complete draft, and is not suited for students looking for help in brainstorming or research. All tutors have recently become available for all tutoring types, making it easier than ever to create an appointment.
Writing Center tutors are always happy to help students with their papers, especially those who really enjoy writing. For anyone looking to make an appointment, visit the Writing Center or directly schedule. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 843-863-7385.
Hanah Kerrigan is a junior English major and is a spring 2023 intern with the Office of Marketing & Communication.