FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Writing Center’s mission?
Our mission is, first, to provide a supportive, congenial environment in which you can talk to peer tutors about your writing, at any stage of the process and throughout your Skidmore career. These conversations, in turn, are geared to help you become a more confident and proficient writer. Each tutor is a sympathetic, intelligent reader, whose inquiring presence can serve as a sounding board for your work.
How do I make an appointment?
You’ll see the “Make an Appointment” button on our homepage. Clicking that button will bring you to our schedule, which can be viewed on both a daily and a weekly basis.
To use our online system, you’ll need to create an account. The process is straightforward and quick. You’ll find instructions on creating an account when you enter the system for the first time. You must register with a “@skidmore.edu” email address. A confirmation email will then be sent to Skidmore email. That email will contain a link to activate your account. You need to do this only once.
You’ll find guidelines about appointments at the top of our tutoring schedule.
You may also call us at (518) 580-8144.
What if I don’t have an appointment? Can I walk in?
Yes! You may walk in, and if a tutor is available, he or she will be happy to work with you. Students with appointments do have priority, however.
Our online scheduler allows you to put yourself on a waitlist for an appointment; if the scheduled student does not show up, we will notify you immediately so you can use that slot.
How long is a typical tutoring session?
A typical session is 45 – 50 minutes. We allow an hour for each session, as you’ll see on the schedule. Some appointments are shorter, from 20 – 30 minutes.
What should I bring to a tutoring session?
Bring a copy of your assignment: that’s quite important. Bring anything else that is relevant to the assignment, including readings or class notes and whatever work you may have done on the assignment at the time—lists of ideas, an outline, a partial draft, a full draft. You need not have even started writing to have a fruitful tutoring session: you may want to brainstorm ideas with a tutor or try to narrow down a number of ideas you’ve already thought of.
What happens in a typical session?
Based on the tutoring-request form you’ve filled out, your tutor will ask you to expand on the kinds of concerns and the assignment you want to discuss. You and the tutor will come up with a working agenda. Here are some possibilities for that agenda:
- brainstorming ideas that meet the assignment’s requirements
- examining the purposes of the assignment
- starting on or continuing an outline
- shaping a working thesis
- going over your draft to ensure a match between content and assignment or between thesis and support
- considering the readability and precision of your prose
- checking documentation
- reviewing specific punctuation and grammar.
Do tutors edit papers?
No! A tutor will not edit your paper but will work alongside you as you formulate your own editing choices.
What if the tutor is not familiar with my paper’s subject?
In general, this should not be a concern. Writing Center tutors have been trained to help writers question and explore the content of a paper no matter what the subject or discipline. Tutors themselves represent a range of majors and minors. For specific questions about style or format in a discipline, tutors may consult handbooks and websites. You’ll see that on our schedule and on our Who We Are page, tutors’ majors and minors are listed. But it is usually only in the case of lab reports in the sciences that you will want to schedule an appointment with a tutor familiar with report formats. (See the notation “Can do lab reports” attached to tutors’ names on the appointment schedule.)
Does a professor need to refer me to the Writing Center?
Not at all. Our tutors are available to work with you when you want to discuss your writing.
Professors do sometimes suggest that a student visit the Writing Center, particularly if they notice consistent writing issues.
Will my professor know I’ve visited the Writing Center?
Only if you would like her or him to know. Tutoring sessions are treated confidentially: “What happens in a Writing Center session stays in the Writing Center.” When you schedule an appointment or if you walk in, you’ll fill out a tutoring-request form; the form asks whether you want us to notify your instructor. We encourage you to let your instructor know, and most students do want a professor to know that they have worked with a tutor on a particular assignment. In that case, the tutor sends the professor a brief report of the tutoring session. If you do not want a professor to receive a report, we honor that request.
Who are the Writing Center tutors?
Our tutors are sophomores, juniors, and seniors whom Skidmore faculty members have recommended based on the students’ writing strengths and communication abilities. Tutors must successfully complete English 303Honors: Peer Tutoring Project, an intensive course focused on collaborative learning and a rigorous synthesis of rhetorical theory and practical applications. Students in EN303H begin tutoring almost immediately, under the supervision of the Writing Center’s director and assistant director and with the help of seasoned tutors.
How often may I visit the Writing Center?
We encourage repeat visits, with one exception (see below). You may want to work on a single paper at different stages of its development; you may find several tutors whom you have worked particularly well with. Many students begin visiting the Writing Center in their first year and continue to schedule sessions throughout their four years. Seniors often work on capstone projects and graduate-school, scholarship, and internship applications with tutors.
The exception: We cannot accommodate more than one visit per day per student. We want to be able to help as many students as possible.
What if I can’t keep an appointment?
You can cancel your appointment on our online scheduler. If you know you will not be able to keep an appointment, please do cancel it as soon as possible so another student can use that slot.
If you are 10 minutes or more late for a scheduled appointment, you may lose your slot. If after 10 minutes you have not arrived for your appointment, your tutor can work with someone on the waitlist or with a student who has walked in. If you know you are running late, please call us at (518) 580-8144.
How do I schedule tutoring for a long paper?
Please see our Scheduling Guidelines.
What should I do about any concerns or questions I may have about the Writing Center?
Contact Phil Boshoff, Martha Wiseman, or Thaddeus Niles (see our contact information on the homepage).
You may also fill out our survey, click here.