It's finals week. The Writing Center is open and here to help you, but there are some things you should keep in mind. First and foremost: it's hard to do much in a half-hour writing session when the paper you are working on is due in an hour. So here are some guidelines for how to get the most out of a Writing Center session when your paper is due soon.
1. Try and come in at least a day before your paper is due.
During the rest of the term, coming in the day before a piece of writing is due is pretty short notice. It would be better if you came in a week before the paper was due, or at least a few days, because then you would have time to make substantial changes to your paper if you wanted to. In the crunch of finals week, though, you probably have an immediate deadline that is looming. If you can at least make it in a day before your paper is due, the things you discuss with your writing consultant are things you can then work on in the evening (or the next morning) before you have to turn the paper in. In other words: you still have time to work on the paper.
2. Come in prepared to help your consultant.
If your paper is due the next day, or later that same day, there is a limited number of useful and effective things you and your consultant can talk about in a writing session. If you can suggest a focus for the session, though, or a specific problem or challenge that you would like the consultant to discuss with you, then the session can still be productive and help you make some decisions about how to finish your paper. If you know you want to sharpen your introductory and conclusion paragraphs, for example, then you can work on those with your consultant, go to a computer lab to revise them, print out your paper, and turn it in. Voila! Effective session! If you sit down, tell your consultant the paper is due in two hours, and then say you're not really sure what you want to work on, well...your consultant won't know what you have time or motivation to do.
3. Don't expect proofreading.
The Writing Center is a tutoring center, so our goal is to have writing sessions that are educational. If you sit down and pass your paper to one of our consultants and ask the consultant to proofread it for you, that's not really an educational moment--that's asking the consultant to work for you while you relax. When they're not working in the Writing Center, our consultants teach writing courses themselves, and you wouldn't drop your paper off with your writing teacher and ask your teacher to proofread it for you. The Writing Center is a wonderful resource: actual writing teachers are available to discuss writing problems with you! But please arrive prepared to actively take part in a discussion and to work during the session. We'll arrive prepared to help you as well as we can.
4. If you can't come in for an appointment, check our online resources.
We have all sorts of helpful material in the resources section of our website. Just follow the links in the right column of this blog.