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Academic Learning Center

Student Information

Services

The Writing Center is a by-appointment service that gives students the opportunity to work one on one with certified writing coaches in a low-stress setting.

Writing appointments help you accomplish academic writing projects to the best of your ability, practice thinking and communication strategies you can apply across different academic experiences, and receive whatever feedback you need to improve your concentration, confidence, and comfort when writing.

Besides class assignments, the Writing Center works with honors and masters theses, doctoral dissertations, personal statements, GRE and Praxis Core writing exam preparation, and general writing improvement. You may also encounter writing center staff in your classes or student organizations when they deliver presentations and workshops on topics like avoiding plagiarism and proofreading effectively.

Writing appointments are structured according to your goals and project guidelines, so it's important to bring class notes and handouts and two copies of anything you’ve written so far (a draft, an outline, a few notes). Some students meet with a writing coach at the beginning of the process when they just need to get started and make a plan.

Appointments can be scheduled at (319) 273-2361 or in person in ITTC 008, and they are available from 8:00 am -5:00 pm Monday through Friday. The last appointments of the day are scheduled at 4:00 pm to allow up to an hour of meeting time. 

    FAQs

    Why do I need an appointment to work with a Writing Coach?

    The Writing Center is a by-appointment service to allow ample time for you to get quality feedback and to act on feedback during the appointment. A by-appointment service also encourages students to treat the process of writing papers realistically. Quality writing takes time and evolves from serious planning, thinking, writing, revising, and proofreading. Writing Coaches offer different kinds of feedback, but work with students at any of these stages, including the “can’t get started” stage.

    How do I schedule an appointment?

    For appointments, call 319-273-2361 or schedule in person in 008 ITTC. Writing appointments last up to one hour and are available in 008 ITTC 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm during summer terms. Additional times can be arranged by request.

    You can schedule up to two appointments per week. Walk-in appointments are available only by chance.

    The first time you come to the Writing Center, you’ll be asked to complete a short form and do a computer check-in.

    Can I schedule appointments online?

    At this time, we don’t offer online scheduling or scheduling by email.

    What if no appointments are available?

    Writing Center appointment slots fill quickly. It’s important to call far enough in advance of your assignment due date to schedule a time that works for you. You can request a particular Writing Coach or any appointment time that fits your schedule. If no appointment is available on a date you request, we do keep a waiting list with contact information and your preferred meeting dates/times.

    What if I’m a distance learner and can’t come to campus for an appointment?

    For students taking classes through the ICN or Continuing and Distance Education, we offer consultations on Skype or by phone or email. Email Deanne.Gute@uni.edu to schedule a consultation.

    What do I do if I'm running late or have to reschedule or cancel?

    Please do your best to arrive on time. Our appointments start on the hour. If you’re running late, please call the Writing Center so that we can inform your Writing Coach. Your coach may not be available to work with you if you’re more than 15 minutes late, and the remainder of your appointment time may be offered to someone on our waiting list.

    Please call to 273-2361 to cancel your appointment with at least 24 hours notice. Students who accumulate a record of no-shows or last-minute cancellations will be notified in writing that they have lost the right to use Writing Center services for the semester.

    What do I bring to my Writing Center appointment?

    Bring something to write with and two copies of your draft, outline, or planning notes. One of the copies will be the copy your Writing Coach will read and store in a confidential file. The other will be your copy to mark and take with you as your record of what you accomplished during the session.

    Bring any class notes or handouts that explain the assignment you’re working on.

    Please email papers longer than 7 pages at least 24 hours before your appointment to unialcwconline@uni.edu, with the first name of your Writing Coach in the subject line, or drop off a copy at the reception desk in 008 ITTC.

    Will the Writing Center proofread papers for me?

    No. The Writing Center is an instructional service; we help you help yourself. We begin by talking with you about your goals and concerns for the project, and then we work with you to determine what should be done to build on and improve what you have. We do demonstrate how to proofread and correct grammatical errors and give you feedback as you practice these strategies.

    For students who are looking for an editor to hire for a fee, we are building a list of referrals. These editors are independent contractors, not Writing Center staff.

    Who are the writing coaches?

    Writing coaches include the Writing Coordinator and graduate and undergraduate students who complete a minimum of two semesters of training and earn College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) certification. Writing coaches represent a variety of majors, have diverse interests and extracurricular activities, and are passionate about helping students succeed in college.

    I went to the Writing Center, but the paper I turned in got a poor grade anyway. What happened?

    This is a complex question with many possible answers, because writing is a complex process involving various stages and ways of critiquing your writing.

    If you have a specific complaint about the handling of a writing appointment, we want to know about it; contact Deanne.Gute@uni.edu. However, there are a number of factors to remember in determining why an instructor might evaluate a paper negatively in spite of your visit to the Writing Center. Asking yourself these questions can help ensure that you’ll do better next time:

    1. Did the paper take care of specific content and assignment guidelines?

    The paper may be a significant improvement over the rough draft, but still not meet all the expectations the instructor had in mind while grading. Be sure to read through all class notes and handouts relevant to your assignment, and bring all of the information to the Writing Center to help your coach focus the appointment on the right things.

    When assignment guidelines aren’t very specific, it’s important to make a list of questions to ask the instructor; a Writing Coach can help you prepare the list.

    2. Did you have more than one appointment at the Writing Center?

    Writing Coaches are trained to deal with content, focus, and organization issues first. Sometimes, one appointment is taken up with making decisions about and planning the revision of a paper’s purpose, coherence, and organization. It helps to leave yourself enough time for follow-up visits if you need additional feedback. Always leave enough time between an appointment and the due date to thoroughly act on the advice you received for improving your paper.

    3. Did you take the time for sentence editing and proofreading after developing your content?

    Many instructors will not give a good grade to a paper that’s full of confusing sentences and proofreading mistakes. These problems make it hard to tell what your content is. Most students can correct most of their own errors with enough time, multiple readings, and good strategies beyond using spellcheck.

    4. Are you using all the opportunities you can to practice strong academic writing habits and get feedback from readers?

    Writing Coaches aim to help students accomplish something tangible during an appointment, but no paper gets totally revised in a session. What happens after the session depends on each student’s individual motivation, the amount of time devoted to revision, and ability to follow through on the advice received in the writing appointment. The key to mastering academic writing, and dealing with different expectations in different courses, is regular practice and feedback.