Ask A Specialist (November): Choosing a Reading Format

The writing tutors had a great meeting on Friday! During this meeting, we explored the following question: What format do you prefer to read - print or web or both? Why? As always, our tutors had plenty of insights to share.  There wasn't a general consensus on the format - most of the tutors switched …

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Meme of the Week #29: How to Read a Poem

For some readers, the three most frightening words in the English language are "poetry analysis essay." Some people hear these words and, almost instantaneously, they get this look on their faces: Suddenly, class discussions become like this: because people are thinking things like: But poetry doesn't have to be intimidating. The Atlantic is here to help. This …

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Three Approaches to Freewriting

All too often, we have many expectations for what our paper should look like. It needs the proper format, correct grammar, or a compelling hook. It’s natural to imitate what is mandated by an instructor and hope for full credit. But when we weigh ourselves down with these surface-level expectations at first, it’s difficult to …

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Quick Tip #19: How to Use Your Exam Prep Time

The proctor sets the prompt down. It reads: In a fully-developed essay, answer the following topic with specifics. Write about a time you were in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. What did you do to make the situation better? What did you learn from the experience? After a few seconds, I recognize this assignment as …

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Growing Your Essay Up: Part 2, Breaking out of the 5-Paragraph Essay

And we're back to our short series about "maturing" our essays! Last week we talked about more sophisticated thesis statements; now, we're going to investigate structures. The task of essay writing is undoubtedly daunting for many; specifically, the challenge of synthesizing information, relating it back to the thesis, and providing appropriate support can be overwhelming. …

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Ask a Specialist (October): Breaking out of Writer’s Block

We had a great October meeting with our writing tutors! As we are starting to see longer papers and projects in the Writing Center, we thought we'd ask about writer's block this month. Here's our question: Have you ever had a bad case of writer’s block? How did you overcome this “malady” and finish your …

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Growing Your Essay Up: Part 1, Breaking out of Divisions of Proof

Welcome to our new short series on "maturing" your essays from high school to college expectations. Today, we'll begin with what is often the most important element of a paper - the thesis. What does your thesis writing process entail? While some students count struggling not to set their papers afire as a reasonable part …

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Quick Tip #17: Keep a Writing Notebook

While this PhD Comic was just released this week, that illustration summarized much of my first graduate school experience years ago - I had great ideas but forgot them as soon as I tried to add them into my papers.  Frustrating, right? A few years later I went back to graduate school for a creative …

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Why Go to the Writing Center?

The Writing Center is open again - hooray! And as our reservation system on the WCOnline fills up this week, one name we might not yet see among our appointment is yours. Why should I go to the Writing Center you might be asking yourself. Maybe you're thinking you're too shy, scared, embarrassed (or other …

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A Spartan Sneak Preview: The Writers are Coming!

A few years ago, I asked a writer friend of mine to visit one of my first-year writing classes. She came for a full session - offering a short reading, Q&A, and a talk about the writing life. My students loved her. One of the first comments someone said after she left was: "I didn't …

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