Writing Room Consultant Expectations

One-on-One Consultations: Q&A

Will you edit my paper?

Our goal is to help you become a better writer. Editing works against that goal because it allows somebody else to control your words. We want your voice to be heard. It’s important to us that you own your writing, so we are not allowed to edit.

We do help you learn how to edit. We can find patterns of errors in your writing and teach you how to identify and correct those errors on your own. More importantly, we ask questions about content, organization, and other high-level concerns. When you learn how to ask those questions about your own writing (which you can begin to do after just one session), you will be a better writer; you won’t need us to edit your paper.

So, how does a one-on-one consultation work? 

When you visit the Writing Center, our staff will greet you and ask you to sign in on our sign-in computer. If you’re early, we have a waiting area with comfy couches and plenty of magazines. When it’s time, your consultant will invite you to sit down next to them at a table.

Consultations last for 30 minutes, and you’re in charge the whole time. The consultant will ask what you’re working on and may ask to see your assignment. Then, you and the consultant will talk about your goals for the session. For example, you can say that you’d like to work on organization or that you want a stronger thesis. If you don’t know what you need to work on, that’s fine too!

The consultant will then ask you to begin reading your paper aloud (or offer to do it for you). This may seem strange at first, but reading out loud is one of the best ways to double-check your writing. Writers often improve their papers without our help because it’s easier for them to hear and see problems when they read out loud.

 Again, you decide where the session goes.

 For example, we CAN help you:

  • brainstorm ideas
  • outline your paper
  • organize your argument
  • use the clearest language possible
  • check your technical style (APA/MLA/Chicago)
  • identify and correct grammatical errors and look for patterns
  • revise your own paper
  • edit, format, and proofread your own paper

 But for various reasons, we CANNOT:

  • edit or proofread for you
  • write on your paper (especially not with a big red pen)
  • tell you what to write
  • find all of your mistakes for you
  • interpret assignments
  • predict your grade

 At the end of your session, you and the consultant will summarize what you’ve covered and then plan the next steps of your writing process. Feel free to stay in the Writing Center and work. When you leave, don’t forget to sign out!


What do I need to bring?

If you have an assignment or a prompt, bring it. If you have a draft — even a partial draft — bring it. Otherwise, just bring your ideas for what you want to write, and your consultant can help you plan the next step. 

Is a digital copy okay?

Yes! In fact, many students like to make changes to their paper during their consultations. If you can pull it up online, you can use one of our computers. We have both Macs and PCs. You’re also welcome to bring your own laptop.

Will you guarantee an error-free paper?

Writing is a process, and as such, we work with writers at their point of need to help address error patterns.  We can go through and look for patterns of error and teach /model how to correct these errors. We will then ask the writer to go through the next section of the paper and make revisions to these patterns along with us. From there, we will move on to the next issue of concern once the writer has demonstrated understanding. There may be more text to address, and most writers will self-correct as we go through the remainder of the text; this, though, does not guarantee an error-free paper.  Writers may choose to not make revisions to the remainder of the text or they may decide not to take our suggestions.  Ultimately, this is the choice of the writer. We will make suggestions, work with error patterns, have the writer demonstrate revision to those error patterns to check for understanding, and move on to the next issue of concern, asking the writer to finish making those changes to the remainder of the text. 

I’m a graduate student. Can I get extra help?

Graduate students are entitled to three weekly 1-hour sessions at the Writing Center. Graduate students may also request weekly standing appointments for the entire semester. These sessions are intended to provide ongoing, in-depth assistance to students working on extended writing projects. To take advantage of this service, please contact CASA Writing Center Coordinator, Kristen Ruggles