By: Brittany Kach
I’m constantly amazed by the diverse accomplishments of our clients in the Writing Center. For some of my clients, English is not their first language, and they have fought, and continue to fight, to become educated in a second language. Some students in their 40’s or 50’s are grappling with the task of writing an essay when they haven’t been in school for decades. Some first-year students arrive at college unprepared by their high schools for the sometimes-difficult feat of writing essays.
For all of these different kinds of students, putting their thoughts and experiences into words can be very difficult. Tutoring sessions can be frustrating for both the client and tutor. This frustration can make clients feel hopeless; they feel like they should just be able to “get it” like their tutors do, and if they can’t, then why bother? Tutors can feel overwhelmed in these situations; it is difficult to help a client who does not seem willing to accept help. However, breaking the writing process down into steps makes writing tasks seem much less daunting. The fact that writing is a process is something that many students don’t realize and are relieved to learn. These students struggle with the fact that they can’t sit down and churn out a paper in an hour or two, and it’s important for them to understand that this method, for most people, isn’t the best way to write. Crafting a plan for an essay takes away much of the formidability of writing and makes it a more manageable task.
It can be hard to make continuous efforts to improve your writing skills, but it is important to do so because the results are extraordinary worthwhile. Good communication is a skill set that is important for everyone to possess, and the ability to write is an integral part of these skills. Even while technology develops at a faster and faster pace and makes our lives easier and easier, we are still dependent on the written word. With a multitude of ways to communicate with others without being in the same room, we are possibly even more dependent on writing now than ever before. To write a successful proposal, email, or even text message, one needs the ability to communicate clearly using the written word.
The ability to write also gives us the power to connect with ourselves and others and to make connections we never thought were possible. In the Writing Center, we want to help students strengthen and harness this ability to benefit themselves. Every student comes to us with different writing skills and experiences, and we are ready and eager to meet each student at their level. We don’t write anything for students, but we help draw out the inspiration that is already inside of them. We strive to help students find their voices, but not to put words into their mouths or onto their papers.
Writing can offer many opportunities, and these aren’t limited to professional opportunities. Writing gives you the power to shape your world; to give life to your ideas and share them with the world; to try to create change, however small it may be; to find meaning in your experiences. Writing can be a cathartic experience. Many of our students even use writing to come to terms with difficult or challenging instances in their lives. Tutoring sessions like these that deal with sensitive material can be tricky and must be navigated carefully, and all details are kept confidential, but helping a student put their feelings down on paper is more than worth it.
For example, one client of mine, in response to a cause-and-effect prompt, wrote an essay exploring her childhood and how it made her into the person she is today. She described how her tough experience growing up shaped her values for the better; instead of caring about appearances or material objects, she sees worth in what is on the inside and feels grateful for what she has. The process of writing this paper helped this client recognize and appreciate her own resilience and growth.