Serving students and faculty since 1971

Hey writers! My name is Cecilia and I’m a tutor at the M.E.W. Writing Center.

Have you ever felt unsure to ask for help on a writing assignment? I know I have. To gain a better perspective about UM-Flint writers’ potential concerns, I asked a few of our tutors to share some of their initial fears about meeting with a Writing Center tutor.

Below are the Top 5 fears we mutually experienced, along with a debunked response. We understand that it can feel nerve-wracking to step into an appointment, or that you may have some hesitation for a variety of reasons.

However, we want to assure you: we’ve got your back and we would love to work with you!

I’m afraid the tutor will judge me and/or my writing

We hear you and we want to assure you that our job as Writing Center tutors is to help you become a better writer. We are genuinely curious about what you are writing and we would love to offer you an unbiased perspective. We’re not here to grade your work, bring you down, or tear your writing apart. We’re here to help and support you!

I’m not majoring in English, can a tutor really help my work?

Absolutely! Some of the best sessions happen when tutors get to help non-English majors. We can offer a perspective that your potential audience may share, or help you identify a blind-spot that those in your field may glance over. Fun fact: tutors are just as diverse as you are! We’re not all majoring in English or writing for that matter, and we study a variety of academia and can probably relate more to you than you initially think.

I’m nervous because I don’t have much started for the assignment

We know the feeling. Brainstorming, idea-generation, and sound-boarding are some of our favorite things to help writers with. Sometimes, simply talking the assignment out with a tutor, can strike up an idea in your mind for you to run with. We’ll ask you questions, pick your brain, throw some ideas out there, and you never know what you’ll come up with. Once your ideas are going, come back and see us when you’re drafting!

I don’t know what actually happens in a tutoring session

You are not alone! Here’s how it works. As I mentioned earlier, as tutors, we’re here to help you become a better writer. We can help you in a variety of ways including: polishing a professional resume; brainstorming and idea generation for your paper; reviewing your presentation; being a soundboard outside of your area of study or major; and much more!

Currently, we’re operating fully online due to COVID-19, which means our sessions look a little bit different. In a Live-Online appointment, we try to embody our typical Writing Center physical atmosphere via the comfort of your own home. We’ll meet in the Live-Online Consultation appointment (or via Zoom), get to know you a little bit (if you’d like), and then ask you about what type of writing you are working with. To put it simply, our session together is a conversation.

The direction of our conversation moves depending on what you’re working on, your goals, the assignment deadlines, our appointment length, etc. If you would prefer to not use the Live-Online appointment style (totally okay), you can utilize the E-tutoring appointment. In this appointment, you’ll submit your Word or Google Doc into the appointment slot, and a tutor will provide reader-based comments during the designated time for you to review later.

*If you don’t have an account with the Writing Center, click here to set one up in order to schedule an appointment (E-tutoring and Live-Online).

If I get help from a tutor, what kind of feedback can I expect?

This is a great question. When you meet with a tutor in a Live-Online or E-tutoring sesion, the tutor provides you with reader-based feedback. What is reader-based feedback? Reader-based means that we as tutors, are considering your paper from the perspective of your intended or unintended audience. This also means our feedback is different from a writer’s perspective (your perspective), as well as your professor’s perspective. We always encourage writers to speak with their professor about any clarifying assignment questions.

At the Writing Center, we advocate for your voice and the ownership of your work. Our intention is to not “correct”, “fix”, or change your writing. If we suggest an idea to you, you have the power to consider that idea and explore it for yourself, (or not). Although we are not going to write your paper for you, we will ask you questions that spark critical thinking, which leads to your personal control of the paper/assignment.

There you have it! I hope these debunked fears and questions give you a better understanding of what we’re up to at the Writing Center, and how we can help you become a better writer.

We look forward to working with you!

If you have any additional questions, concerns, or fears about meeting with a tutor, please reach out to us via email at: [email protected].