Reading, writing and avoiding arithmetic

April 30th, 2009

When I was asked to write this column, I decided I didn’t want it to be a standard senior response to the end of the year, discussing my lack of job or goodbyes to the University.

Instead, I figured it’s more practical to tell you about one of my favorite places on campus: the Writing Center.

If you’ve ever taken English composition or FYS at JCU, then you have probably visited my second home. Yes, I did just call it home. For the past two years, I’ve worked as a consultant in the Writing Center, and seeing as how some days I spend more time there than I do in my room, it really is home.

Why is it practical for me to tell you about the Writing Center? Well, frankly, it’s one of the most useful, educational resources on campus… if you use it properly.

For instance, if “MAXimum Exposure” last week hit you uncomfortably close to home, you might want to drop by the Writing Center at some point. Or if you want someone to frankly tell you when your writing is wrong, Rafferty always welcomes that kind of opportunity. Or if you just really like “That’s what she said” jokes, more of those happen on a daily basis in the Writing Center than in even Seeholzer’s best columns.

While I genuinely enjoy working with students on their writing, admittedly there are classic moments of confusion, panic, disaster and falling chairs. Additionally, there are a few phrases we hear a little too often and signal that the writer doesn’t really understand how to get the most out of the Writing Center.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

  1. “Hi, I have a 20 page research paper due in an hour. Can you help me?”
  2. “Do you think you could just e-mail my professor that I was here. I don’t really need you to look over the paper.”
  3. “Can I just leave my paper here and pick it up in an hour?”
  4. “I don’t really know what that part means, since someone else in my group wrote it.”
  5. “So, I wrote this late last night and haven’t really proofread it.” (Note: Please read the paper once yourself to, at the very least, account for spelling errors.)

The mission of the Writing Center is to help create better writers, not better papers.

So, we can’t really guarantee you an “A” just because you brought it to us. While we would like to think we are that good… certain papers require God’s intercession in addition to our own.

I also want to warn against using us as a crutch. We really love to see your smiling face as often as you come, but remember that eventually you’re going to go out into the “real world” and won’t have access to us anymore. Start practicing now.

Finally, the consultants want to have fun with you as we work together on your paper, so don’t be afraid to joke, smile and enjoy the session… even if we tell you to completely rewrite your paper.