By Erin Valentine
From term papers to résumés, job applications, stories, written math assignments and study abroad applications, the Elon University Writing Center is a resource for anything writing-based.
With its main location in Belk Library behind the front desk, it also has satellite locations in the Multicultural Center and 146 Koury Business Center.
The Writing Center is fueled by peer consultants who are trained in writing across the disciplines at Elon. All consultants are required to complete English 319: Writing Center Workshop and to have required training hours.
Consultants are available to help with understanding the goal of an assignment, brainstorming ideas, drafting, revising, assisting with editing and documenting sources. Appointments can be scheduled online for 15-, 30- or 45-minute sessions (although consultants prefer at least 30-minute sessions). Walk-in appointments are available during operating hours.
However, many students have the misconception that the Writing Center is simply a “correction” or “editing” service.
“We don’t edit papers!”said Elon Junior Sarah Paterson, a consultant and Professional Writing and Rhetoric major. “People come in with 15 page research papers and schedule 15 minute appointments. We’re not just going to scan your paper with a red pen in hand and tell you what to fix – that’s not what the Writing Center is for.”
One of the techniques consultants use is to have people read their work aloud with the consultants.
“Often, when people read their own work aloud, they catch their own errors, realize what’s not working, and feel more confident about their own work once they’ve gone through it themselves,” Paterson explained. “I think it’s valuable for people visiting the Writing Center to find, when they’re stressed out over a big paper for class, that they actually know more than they think they do.”
Danielle Cooper, an Elon junior double majoring in English Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing and a consultant at the center, finds the interaction between consultant and student to be the most instrumental aspect of the Writing Center.
“Interaction is key,” Cooper said. “Every consultant wants a client that is receptive and eager to learn, and every client wants a consultant to help.”
Rachel Lewis, an Elon junior English major and consultant at the center enjoys the openness of the Writing Center staff.
“The best aspect of the WC is the openness,” Lewis said. “People can come to us with any concern and at any stage in the writing process, which I think is especially important because a lot of people think they can only come to us with final papers, when in reality they can come with nothing more than a general idea for a thesis or even just an assignment sheet. We are friendly and on the same level as students, as we are their peers, so I think we seem a little less threatening than a professor.”
Consultants have found that an unexpected addition to their job is learning about a wide range of topics.
“I’ve learned about the genetic background of schizophrenia, about environmental pressures on the Philippines, and about how Europe felt about Woodrow Wilson in WWI – and that’s just this month,” Paterson said.
Dustin Swope, an Elon junior English and Philosophy major who works as a consultant at the center, has found that being a consultant has expanded his own understanding of courses.
“The best thing about the writing center is how it takes learning about a topic or subject outside of the classroom,” Swope said.
No job is without its quirks though, and a college campus job is no stranger to interesting situations.
“We’ve had drunk clients, clients on cell phones, clients that argue with your advice, and even a client that hit on one of the consultants during a session,” Cooper said. “I even had one client that had me sign a non-disclosure agreement before the session. Going into work, you just never know what you’re going to get.”