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The Quick Cure for Writing Headaches: The Shasta College Writing Center

Richard Woulfe
Shasta College Lance

In the recent re-accreditation of Shasta College, accreditation evaluators were generous in
their praise of the colleges’ student support services. In particular, they were especially
impressed with SC’s Writing Center.

Located on the bottom floor of the 700 building, the Writing Center has become a real hub on
campus, with students flocking to the center at all hours of the day. This comfortable and roomy lab,
opens from 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday, and 8 am to 5 pm on Friday, features 29
computers, all outfitted with the latest writing-related software programs, along with internet
research capabilities.

But the big selling point is the Writing Centers’ staff. The lab has 11 part-time student-peer-
tutors, and two writing paraprofessionals on staff, to assist students with their writing.

Students that utilize the center, including those struggling with writing assignments, or even those that are not, are learning that it pays to stop by the Writing Center lab.

“ Most studies show that students will raise their grades on term papers by about one grade if
they use their colleges’ writing center.” said Writing Center Director Jim Dyar.
Dyer described writing as “process”, a process that involves prewriting, drafting, and revision.
At the Writing Center, he says, students collaborate with student-peer-tutors on their papers,
and as a result of this collaboration student papers almost always gets better. “ Two heads
together are better than one,” said Dyar.

“Issues of clarity in essays,” says Dyar, is typically the number one problem he sees with
student writing. When a student interacts with a tutor at the center, the tutor will usually spot
this, then the student can go back and revise the essay at home.

In addition to assisting students on clarity in their essays, the Writing Center can assist
students with brainstorming, outlining and organizing, developing and supporting a thesis,
fighting writer’s block, and editing the final draft.

According to Dyar, the student-peer-tutors that work at the Writing Center, all of whom are paid
for their work, are typically A or high B students from the colleges’ English classes. Most have
been recommended for jobs at the Writing Center by their instructors.

Student tutor Aman Jhooty, age 19, in her second year at SC, said she did well in her first year
SC writing courses, working as an embedded tutor in her English 1B course, before getting her
job at the center. She described her work as fun and rewarding. She noted some students
coming to the center have misconceptions about what the center does.

“We don’t write students essays. We also don’t give suggestions about what students should
write about. Nor do we magically raise students grades, you have to apply yourself.” she said.
She added, “But students generally see improvement in their writing by coming here.”
Another misconception, says Johooty, is that the Writing Center is only for students that are
doing sub-par work in classes. “We assist students at all levels. Our goal here is to help all
students get better as writers, “ she said.

Writing center staff suggest that students who want to work with a student tutor drop by the
center or call and make an appointment. But students can also drop-in without an appointment, but staff members warned sometimes they may have to wait awhile. Computers are available on
a first come first serve basis, no appointment necessary.

A student engaging in all forms of writing, such as expository writing, creative writing, and
personal writing, are encouraged to use the Writing Center as a resource.
Dyer reports the Writing Center served approximately 1,350 students in the fall 17 semester,
and he said he expected to see about the same this semester.

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