Snow Write and the Seven Steps for Successful Writing Center Sessions

By Logan Brown, Shyene Joubert, Kylie Lohmeyer, Christina Roberts, Lindsey Howell, Iris Saltus, and Izzy Comin

Step One: Choosing the Fairest Consultant of Them All

Once upon a time, a writing consultant named Snow Write was waiting for her brew at the Overlook when she overheard a doctoral student who was dissatisfied with his progress on his dissertation. With sympathy, Snow Write decided to introduce herself to the bespectacled dwarf and inform him of the merits of the University Writing Center.

“Call me Doc,” he replied. “I’m researching the effects of fire suppression on forest structures. If you can help me at the Writing Center, then I assume you have some familiarity with my research topic?”

“Not particularly,” she answered. “I’m not an ecology major.”

Doc pondered. “Hm. I’m unsure of how the Writing Center can help me then.”

Snow Write sat down at one of the coffee tables and motioned Doc to take the seat across from her. “Actually, the Writing Center supports writing across all fields of study: we recruit undergraduate and graduate consultants from any disciplinary program offered by our university. In fact, we even have an undergraduate consultant—the Huntsman—who’s studying forest management and ecology.”

Doc paused. “An undergraduate? Do you think they’ve advanced far enough within their studies to understand my research focus?”

“While your research seems advanced, the Huntsman is really interested in this field of study,” responded Snow Write. “He’s also performing undergraduate research this semester, so he’s familiar with research writing. You can read more about him and our other consultants on the Writing Center’s website, where each consultant’s biography is listed. The consultants’ biographies describe their major, writing strengths, and personal interests. You can read through them to see whose skillset and experiences best support your writing goals.”

Doc persisted. “I’ll have to review the Huntsman’s biography—it seems rational to work with a consultant who has a similar academic focus. However, I’m still concerned about his lack of experience in the scholarly arena. You said the Writing Center also has graduate consultants?”

“We do,” said Snow Write, whose coffee order had just been called at the bar. “We have a schedule specifically for graduate students, where they can schedule face-to-face or online appointments. Choosing whom you’d like to work with really depends on what you want to get out of the consultation. If you’re looking for feedback geared towards the technical elements of graduate-level writing, then I’d suggest you work with a graduate student; otherwise, the Huntsman would be a great person to discuss the concepts that you’re researching.”

“Thank you for your help, Snow Write. I’ll definitely look into scheduling a consulta…,” Doc was interrupted by an earsplitting sneeze. Whoever could that be, he thought.

A sickly dwarf approached the pair just as Snow Write informed Doc that she was running late for work. Doc greeted the dwarf, “Hey Sneezy. We missed you at the study session this week. We’ll see you there next week, right?”

“That’s the plan,” he replied. The two dwarves parted ways as Doc headed to his seminar.

Step Two: Slating an Appointment for Writing Support 

Sneezy was on the edge of academic probation. He’d missed more than two weeks of class last semester because of different conditions: a cold, a sinus infection, severe social anxiety—you name it. Because he’d heard through the grapevine that his buddy, Doc, had a successful experience at the University Writing Center, Sneezy sought his advice during their study session in an effort to boost his academic standing.

Doc peeped up at Sneezy as he worked on his dissertation. “Try scheduling a consultation at the Writing Center. I can take a minute to show you their online scheduling system.”

Sneezy set a teakettle on the stove before joining Doc, who had pulled up the Writing Center schedule on the web. Scanning through the time blocks that were as white as snow, Sneezy selected a slot that fit within the narrow window of time before his assignment deadline. An appointment form appeared across the Magic Computer Monitor.

“You should make an online appointment, since you seem to mysteriously miss major deadlines,” Doc chuckled. Nodding in agreement, Sneezy selected “Yes – Schedule Asynchronous Appointment” at the top of the form.

The appointment form requested information like what class the assignment was for, when it was due, and what it was about. Sneezy pulled up his writing prompt to describe the purpose of his assignment, and then he considered what his goal for the session was.

For both the Higher Order Concern (HOC) and the Lower Order Concern (LOC) slots, Sneezy scanned the drop-down menus. He was unsure of what to choose, but Doc mentioned that the Writing Center offers online resources, so he pulled up their website. After reviewing the HOC and LOC Topic Descriptions resource, Sneezy decided on the HOC of Overall Argument and LOC of In-Text Citations and References.

Sneezy’s arms went heavy: he wasn’t sure if it was a symptom of one of his conditions or if he was simply anxious about submitting his essay to Snow Write, who Doc had suggested he should work with. Regardless, Sneezy knew he needed the writing support. The cursor hovered above the “Save Appointment” button. He clicked.

“Success! Your appointment was successfully added on the following date: May 3, 2018. If you would like to attach a file to this appointment form, click here.”

Sneezy still had to generate a few references, so he opted to attach a file later on—Doc had explained that you could do so by clicking the yellow folder icon at the top left-hand corner of the schedule.

“I’m sure glad I don’t have to worry about showing up late for this appointment,” Sneezy mused as the teakettle began to shriek behind him, signaling that the solution to his neti pot was ready.

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