Writing Center

writing centerThe Writing Center offers free feedback on and help with your writing. We are open to all Saint Michael College students, faculty, and staff. We help with all kinds of writing at all stages of the process, from hardly begun until almost done.

Our writing coaches are students who have been carefully selected and trained for their positions through a full-semester course in teaching writing.

Our hours this fall are Sundays through Thursdays, 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM, plus scattered daytime hours Sunday through Friday.

The Writing Center is located in Durick Library, Room 119 (downstairs, to the right).

Schedule an appointment, or drop by when we are open to see if a coach is available. Please read "What to Expect" (below) before you come.

For more information, please contact the center director:

Tim Mackin 
Klein Hall 116
802.654.2452
Campus Box 379
tmackin@smcvt.edu

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What to Expect

Our approach:

In the Writing Center, we respect your ownership of your writing. We don’t take charge; we collaborate with you. By asking questions and having a conversation, we help you to see what works well in your writing, as well as what might need work. We can help you generate ideas, rearrange sentences or paragraphs, refine your word choices, and correct errors. We’ll do this with you, not for you. We’re your “writing partner,” there to provide another set of eyes and ears. You make all the final decisions.

What will happen:

  • At your first session, there’ll be some preliminary paperwork to do.
  • Then, at each session, your coach will use a simple form to guide the process along. You’ll start by discussing what the assignment is, and then talk about your ideas and where you are in the process.
  • If you haven’t started yet, your coach can help you interpret your assignment and generate ideas.
  • If you have a draft, you’ll read it together and set priorities for revision. Then you’ll get to work. You’ll try to get some real writing or revision done right there in the session—it’s not all talk.
  • At the end of the session, your coach will give you a copy of the session form with notes about what to do next. You can give this copy to your instructor if you like.

What you’ll need:

  • Information about the assignment and your instructor’s expectations.
  • Notes, drafts, related readings, instructor’s feedback—anything you’ve done so far.
  • A hard copy of your most recent draft, and your laptop if you like.
  • Some ideas about what you want to work on—what you would like to accomplish during the session. The coach can help you decide, but you should come in with some ideas.
  • An open mind and a willingness to participate. It’s your writing, after all.

The goal:

  • To make you the best writer you can be!

Becoming a Coach

To become a coach in the Writing Center, you'll need to take EN 314, "Teaching Writing," which is offered each spring. To be selected for that course, follow these steps:

  • By the end of September, ask an instructor who knows your writing to recommend you to Tim Mackin, Director of the Writing Center. (This recommendation can be e-mailed.)
  • Once recommended, you'll receive a qualifying test by email. Complete and submit it on time.
  • You'll be notified of the results of your test in time for fall registration.
  • Take EN 314 in the spring. During this course, you'll also work two hours per week in the Writing Center, which will help you find out if you like coaching and wish to become a "core" (paid) coach.
  • At the exit interview for EN 314, you and the director will discuss whether or not you should become a core coach. You may earn your workstudy through the Writing Center (we encourage that), but funds are also available to pay students who don't have workstudy.

If you have any further questions, or are interested in an MA-TESL coach position, contact the Tim Mackin at tmackin@smcvt.edu.

Writing Tips

Here are some solutions for the most common writing problems, as addressed by our writing coaches.

For more information, try these links:

Purdue Online Writing Center
A very comprehensive site featuring hundreds of free writing resources, from developing a thesis to MLA citations, and everything in between.

Guide to Grammar and Style
Provides useful definitions, examples and information about grammar, usage and mechanics. Also provides useful links and bibliographies to other resources.

Decoding Proofreading Comments
Gives lists of common proofreading symbols and abbreviations.

Guide to Grammar and Writing
Allows you to search for grammar and writing questions at the sentence level, paragraph level, and entire essay level, as well as providing quizzes and other resources.

Advice on Academic Writing
Gives information about planning and organizing, reading and researching, using sources, specific types of writing, style and editing, grammar and punctuation, ESL and additional resources.

Learn What Matters