The Importance of The Writing Center


Students working with a tutor at the Writing Center; Photo Courtesy of:

Imagine this: You have a 5-page paper due in a week, and you don’t know where to begin. 

You’ve never been the best writer, and you’ve heard that your professor is a harsh grader on papers. So, you push off the writing for a while and throw something together at the last minute. You know it isn’t your best work, but you feel you had no other option. 

But alas! There is — and it’s right in Zinzendorf Hall. 

The Writing Center, located on the second floor, is a hidden gem of Moravian College that not enough students take advantage of. 

I have been working as a writing tutor in the Writing Center for three years, having started my sophomore year. I would say I have a pretty good grasp on the Center’s clientele, and last semester I began wondering why more students don’t take advantage of this free opportunity that’s readily available to them 6 days a week. 

The Writing Center is a tutoring hub specifically for writing. This doesn’t mean that you can only come to the Center if you have papers for your English classes. Writing tutors, including myself and nine other fellow peers, have been trained in a half-semester long course on how to be a successful tutor. 

We all come from English backgrounds, but some tutors have skills in lots of other areas, too, such as math, physics and history. If you have a statistics dataset analysis paper, we can help. If you have a historical period essay, we can help. Any class, any major, we are here to assist you in your writing endeavors.

You can make an appointment with us for any area of assistance, too. 

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of the writing process or have a final draft, we are trained to assist you. We also can teach you the basics of MLA, APA, and Chicago formatting, how to properly use in-text citations, or how to make sure you’re not plagiarizing. 

We obviously cannot write your paper for you, though we will do our best to make sure you understand your assignment and utilize our skills to improve your writing as a whole. 

Consider the Writing Center data I gathered from the 2017-2018 year, detailing every person who has used our services during that time. 

I found that an overwhelming number of those students were first-year’s, and from what I have experienced, most of them came to the Center because their professors required them to do so. 

I also help many “regulars” that come in for tutoring frequently. It always makes me happy to see when these students have made appointments with me. I come to our meeting with a better understanding of their writing style and so feel more comfortable critiquing their work. 

Multiple visits to the Writing Center give students the opportunity to experience all of the services that the Center has to offer. 

On the other hand, I rarely see upperclassmen coming to the Writing Center, unless their professors require them to — or if they are friends of mine that I have encouraged to visit. 

I have been pondering why most Moravian students, both under- and upperclassmen, don’t visit if they don’t have to. 

The biggest reason, in my opinion, is simply because they think they don’t need to. They believe they are competent writers and it just wouldn’t be worth their time to have a second pair of eyes on their papers. 

What they don’t realize is that tutors can catch tiny mistakes in grammar or punctuation, and improve the organization and flow of their essay.  

I also think a big reason is because they are either afraid or uncomfortable with the thought of a tutor critiquing their work. It’s hard to even do peer reviewing in class; why would I want a random stranger to tell me what’s wrong in my paper? 

However, the Writing Center doesn’t work in this manner. 

Tutors in the Writing Center are specifically trained to give constructive feedback, not bash your writing with a hammer and tell you that it’s terrible. We work through papers paragraph by paragraph and highlight things that need improving, as well as explain why we’ve commented on certain things.

Students always come out of their appointments with more confidence and reassurance that their paper is now the best it can be, relieved that they will most likely receive a better grade. We never want students to feel frustrated or lose confidence in their writing abilities. We’re there to help their writing improve little by little and give them necessary writing tools so that their next paper can be even better than the first. 

Communication is a large part of the Writing Center. In his essay “Why Visit Your Campus Writing Center,” author Ben Rafoth explains that students want to have a conversation about their paper or assignment. The tutor will ask them questions about their texts, and a dialogue will result. (pg. 147). 

We tutors don’t like to sit in silence, read your paper, hand it back and say, “Have a great day.” 

We work to connect with the student as a person, a fellow peer, and stimulate their mind about the content of their paper. And even if they think it’s perfect, there are always areas that could use improvement. There’s no such thing as a perfect paper, but we’ll try our best to come pretty darn close. That is, if you come to make an appointment first! 

Students can make appointments with the Writing Center by visiting our sign-up site. We hope to see you there soon!