By Shay Digenan
Do you consider yourself a good writer? Go ahead, it’s okay to admit it. I’ve certainly never had a problem saying that I think I am. In fact, during my first two years of college, I thought I was so good that I never once visited the University Writing Center (UWC) or used any of the resources it provides, including any of its online guides, citation tools, or even this blog. Sure, I made it out of English 101 and my Core Humanities courses all right, but I’m positive that everything I wrote could have been improved by an appointment at the UWC (and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING).
Rattling off paper after paper with the same structure, the same points of view, and the same small mistakes often left me wondering why I had that minus symbol after my letter grade when I thought I deserved a better score. To be quite honest, it wasn’t until I became an employee of the UWC that I realized what a vast difference just one half-hour appointment can make on an assignment. As you can imagine, it was also around this time that I began to regretfully look back on those first two years and kick myself for not taking advantage of a monumental resource I’m convinced every writer on this campus can benefit from.
In order to prevent you from repeating my mistake, I’ve laid out the top three reasons why even experienced writers should use the University Writing Center.
- Everyone sees things differently. I realize that this sounds incredibly philosophical—and it can be, if that’s what you’re looking for. You have the ability to book an appointment at the UWC at any stage in your writing process, which means if you want to come in and brainstorm ideas with nothing more than a prompt in hand, you certainly can. From a more concrete perspective, this also means that simply having a consultant look at a different way to phrase a sentence can add variety to your paper and make the difference between another monotonous essay and a piece that engages the reader.
- It can help you get out of your head. When we spend a lot of time researching, discussing, and writing about a topic, it’s easy to begin omitting information that may seem like common knowledge but might not be to the reader. There’s also been times when I’ve rephrased a sentence or a section so many times that to me it looks right, but in the grander scheme of things makes no sense at all. One of the best strategies I’ve seen demonstrated at the UWC is when consultants read a paper under the assumption that they have no previous knowledge of the topic at all to pinpoint areas where enough explanation is not included.
- Broaden your horizons. Surprising as it might be, it’s safe to say that almost no one is “experienced” in every type of writing that exists. As students, most of us have done a substantial amount of essay writing. Unfortunately, most of these essays are all of similar structure and style. Visiting the UWC is a great way to better your knowledge of different types of academic writing and non-academic material. You can even book an appointment for personal work, like poetry.
I know you’ve heard it before: College is a time to try new things. While visiting the University Writing Center might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear this adage, I can guarantee that everyone who comes in will learn something that they didn’t know before—no matter how experienced you consider yourself.