Never Come to a Party Empty Handed

Written by Writing Assistant Ashley Arnoult

Imagine going to a party fully expecting a widespread of treats to pick from, chips and dip, chocolate covered strawberries, mac ‘n cheese. Now picture yourself getting there and seeing nothing but a couple of chairs and some water bottles. Not much to work with, right? Well, we will provide the advice and the candy (we know the party rules!), but we need your contribution too! The worst is showing up to a party where everyone arrived with something except for you, don’t be that person.

After you make an appointment at the writing center (or in this analogy, get invited to the party) there are some things you should prepare before coming in. First, make sure you have a printed copy of your paper. This is very important. Without a printed copy the assistant won’t be able to leave you with hands-on notes to reference after you leave. We want to be able to highlight, underline, write comments, and if only a computer is available for us it makes that process more time-consuming and less effective.  

It’s also important to arrive with your prompt in hand. Keep in mind the assistant isn’t in your class and may not have taken it, if they don’t understand what question you’re supposed to be answering, they won’t understand how to help you. So, if you want to get the most out of your appointment, bring the prompt! Your professor most likely gave you a sheet of paper with the essay topic and some guidelines to follow, we want to see that to ensure we’re giving you correct information and not straying away from your professor’s wants.

One of the things your writing assistant will ask when you come in is “what are your concerns with this?” or “what do you want me to specifically help you with?” If you have certain areas of your paper you would like to see improved, coming up with these beforehand creates a vision for the direction of the appointment. Need help with organization? We’re your guys. Thesis statement? No problem. To give you an idea of what I mean I’ll give you some examples of our most popular demands, not including the two just mentioned: grammar, citations, clarity, does the paper answer the question, transitions, and research/sources.

While we are more than happy to give you our general suggestions, having more specific goals will make your paper the best that it can be and will have you leaving the center more satisfied. The party won’t be fun if you come empty-handed, so bring a printed copy of your paper, the prompt, and some questions for us.

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