Consultations: What to Expect

Consultations are by appointment only.  To make an appointment to meet online or in the Writing Center (Columbine 316), go to our home page and click "Make an Appointment" to access our online schedule.  First-time users will need to register a username and password to access the schedule.

Our approach

At the Writing Center, we want to focus on making better writers, not just better papers.  This means that during sessions we will talk to you not only about ways to improve your current piece of writing, but also how to apply the concepts we discuss to your future writing projects.  Part of this means talking about your writing process and how it developed.  What's working for you, and what's holding you back?  Everyone's writing process is different, and we want to learn about yours and your overall relationship with writing, and then hopefully we can talk about ways for you to improve that process.  We strongly believe that writing should be seen as a collaborative proces, so we emphasize discussion in our consultations.  Writers of all types can benefit greatly from sharing ideas with one another, and the Writing Center is a place that brings writers together for that purpose.

How do I prepare for a consultation?

You don't have to have a final draft to meet with a Writing Center consultant.  Far from it: we love to discuss rough drafts and outlines.  We will even brainstorm with you if all you have is an assignment sheet or an idea and don't know how to get started.  Here are some things you can do to prepare for a consultation:

- If you are working on an assignment, bring the assignment description your instructor gave you.  Understanding the purpose and audience is crucial to any discussion about writing.

- Print your writing or outline out, or arrive a little early so you can print it out here.  It's easier for us to read your writing together if it is printed.

- Think a bit about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.  How do you feel about writing?  These are great things to keep in mind and mention to your consultant to promote a productive conversation about writing.

- What specific concerns do you have about the piece of writing you want to discuss?  Maybe you feel your thesis is weak, or you're not sure about your organization, or you don't know if you explained your ideas enough.  Bringing specific concerns to the table will increase the productivity of a consultation.  Keep in mind that, although we cannot proofread your paper, if you want help with grammar, punctuation, or mechanics, we can discuss specific rules that you struggle with or patterns of error that we notice.  For example, a consultant can explain what coordinating conjunctions do and how to use them properly and then guide you as you practice identifying them in your paper.


What happens in a consultation?

At the start of the session, the consultant will usually spend five to ten minutes asking you about your purpose, audience, writing process, strengths, and weaknesses.  Then, you will normally read your writing out loud to the consultant.  As you discuss your writing with the consultant, it is a good idea to take notes on your draft or on a separate piece of paper.  The consultant will not write on your paper, but might take some notes on a separate sheet.  At the end of the session, you may ask for a self-assessment form which you can turn in to your instructor to show you visited the Writing Center (this is entirely optional).  Additionally, we will ask you to complete a very brief (about one minute) survey about your experience at the Writing Center so we can continue to improve our services.

What can I do during a consultation to make it as productive as possible?

The most important thing you can do is engage in discussion.  Ask the consultant lots of questions and take notes.  Take the time to explain your ideas fully to the consultant.  Don't assume that any thought is irrelevant: speaking your mind is always encouraged.  If you feel comfortable, talk to the consultant about your past experiences with writing and your current approaches to and attitudes about writing.  Writing is an incredibly complex task affected by many variables.  Talking about what restrains or inspires you as a writer can be the key to growth.

Some cautions about making appointments

- Sometimes we get busy and you will need to schedule your appointment several days in advance.

- If you are more than ten minutes late, you will have to reschedule.  If you think you are going to be late, please call us and we may be able to wait for you.  Keep in mind that being late will reduce the total time available for your consultation.

- If you need to cancel your appointment, you can do this yourself through our online schedule.  Just click on the appointment you made and then click "Cancel Appointment" at the bottom.  Please cancel your appointment if you cannot make it so another student can have a consultation.

- Missing your appointment without canceling counts as a no-show.  After three no-shows, your account will be locked, and you will need to speak with our director to regain access to online scheduling.

- Note that you can only schedule one appointment per day and three at most per week.