Raise your hand, students, if you believe that writing is only important and valued in English courses.
Oh, good—I’m glad to see that your hands aren’t up. Whew! I knew you were smart enough not to fall for that one.
Here’s the catch, though—we all know that writing (and good academic writing, to be clear) is a valued and expected component of every discipline. After all, students write organized reports in business and the sciences, produce case studies in political science and communication, and complete analyses and reflections in humanities courses. There are even some courses that incorporate tweets and blog posts, reaching into the sphere of social media! And we mustn’t forget nonacademic, course-related writing: resumes; cover letters for jobs, internships, and graduate school applications; and other professional types of writing like scholarship applications or inquiry letters. Clearly, we write a lot, for every course and even outside our courses (yes, I am counting texts, emails, and tweets/Facebook posts here). But…did you know that you can bring all of those types of writing assignments and genres to the Writing Center?
For a bit of background, our consultants are considered generalist consultants; they are trained to work with any student who comes in, and learn to conduct consultations in a way that focuses on all aspects of academic writing. Though some centers prefer to employ specialist tutors who work more intently with discipline-specific writing conventions, we prefer this more universal approach because it a) allows the student to bring some expertise to the table, and b) brings the writer’s reading audience to life. The consultations are equally enriching and beneficial, and generalist consultants learn a lot about writing across the disciplines from the variety of students with whom they work!
So now you might be wondering, “what classes do John Carroll students visit the Writing Center for?” To answer that question, let’s turn to the data collected from the fall 2016 semester. Not surprisingly, of our 1,315 visits, 536 focused on an assignment for a First-Year Writing or other English course. Beyond that, though, 163 sessions revolved around assignments for business-related courses (including the disciplines of accounting, business management, business professional development, economics, logistics, and marketing); this suggests that the principles of good academic writing are equally important in business-related documents, just as they are in First-Year Writing! Students in the sciences also visit the Writing Center; 116 sessions were conducted for assignments in biology, chemistry, exercise science, and physics courses. And across the humanities, many students also visit for history, philosophy, and theology and religious studies courses (206, in fact).
This is just a small representative of the most common disciplines that students visit for; we also work with students bringing in assignments for Academic Success courses, graduate-level courses, math courses, and military science courses. You can probably guess how versatile and flexible our consultants are as a result of this wide variety! Hopefully, since you already know that you have to write for every course, my blog post will now serve as an invitation for you to visit the Writing Center for every course as well.
Maria Soriano has been the Director of the Writing Center since 2010, and began her experience as a consultant in 2007, when she entered John Carroll University’s Master of Arts program.