The Writing Center
A Collective Effort
We believe that writing is not a process that occurs in isolation or by a sole individual. Instead, writing is a collective effort that students, instructors, and Writing Consultants engage in together. We work toward this goal with student writers and faculty.
All writers benefit from another set of eyes, since it's difficult for all of us to read our own writing critically. Since your reader can't be inside your head, knowing what you think, why you think it, how you think it, and how it's connected to another idea, you have to be very explicit about all these elements of your writing. The Writing Center's consultants are trained to recognize the cloudier parts of your writing and to offer practical and honest advice to you about how to remedy those problems.
For questions regarding the Writing Center, please contact Brenda Boyle.
Reasons to Visit
With all the tools and services available, there are many great reasons to visit the Writing Center:
Consultants are trained as critical readers.
All writers benefit from another set of eyes, since it's difficult for all of us to read our own writing critically. Since your reader can't be inside your head, knowing what you think, why you think it, how you think it, and how it's connected to another idea, you have to be very explicit about all these elements of your writing. Teachers expect you to be explicit; they read hundred of pages of writing and don't want to struggle with the reading. Unlike your friend or your roommate or the guy down the hall who gets As on writing assignments, the Center's consultants are trained to recognize the cloudier parts of your writing and to offer practical and honest advice to you about how to remedy those problems. After reading your paper for the first time, a consultant won't uncritically say “It's great. You should get an A.”
Consultants are critical thinkers.
As high-performing students, all of the Center's consultants have demonstrated their ability to be effective critical thinkers. While they may not have taken the class for which you are writing and they may not be familiar with the subject matter, they do know which questions to ask that will help you develop your ideas. To do your best writing, you want to be challenged on your ideas and their expression before you have to submit the paper to your teacher for evaluation. A Writing Center consultant can challenge you without your risking a final grade.
Consultants are nice people.
Consultants care about writing, and they want you to do the best you can. In addition to understanding and caring about writing, one of the reasons they were chosen was because they are friendly people. Their being friendly will help you feel more at ease about your writing challenges.
Students often don't know how to write for college.
Typically, most students come to Denison without a lot of experience of writing, let alone the various types of writing in disciplines other than English they will be expected to do here. Students across the United States often believe they are ready for college writing, but this is rarely the case, according to their college teachers. In fact, in a 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education article regarding the perception of students being prepared for college, while 36% of high school teachers believed their students were “very well-prepared” for college writing, only 6% of college teachers believed this. Conversely, 10% of high school teachers thought their students were “not well-prepared,” while 44% of college teachers thought this. (Sanoff, Alvin P. “A Perception Gap Over Students' Preparation.” Chronicle of Higher Education. March 10, 2006: B9-B14
College requires writing not usually taught in high school.
If college wasn't different from high school, there wouldn't be much point in doing it. High school may have trained you well how to write five-paragraph literary analyses, and that was fine for then. That was your introduction to writing, but it wasn't the conclusion. Knowing how to write in that form may not aid you now in developing a thoughtful, well-reasoned and lengthy argument with substantial evidence and using Standard English conventions over the course of a month or a semester. The Writing Center is here to help new Denison students make the transition from high school types and quantities of writing to college types and numbers, and also to help more mature students continue to improve their writing.
Working at effective writing continues through college.
Ask any professor about her writing and she's likely to say that she's still working on its quality. So, regardless of your major, completing FYS 101 and/or FYS 102 doesn't end your writing experience in college. You continue to write through your four years, even if you're writing notes or a lab report or an email to your teacher or a graduate school application. Even as a more mature student, a second pair of eyes can always help your writing.
Your teachers appreciate any sincere effort you make to improve your writing.
Across the disciplines, many teachers bemoan the state of writing among students but don't have the class time to commit to teaching writing. By working with a Writing Center consultant (and giving permission to have this effort reported to your teacher), you demonstrate commitment to your education that the best Denison students exhibit.