Honing the Craft of Writing with an Open-Door Policy

The LaGrange College Writing Center

Alexis Westrick

On the topmost floor of the Lewis Library, the Lagrange College Writing Center sits crammed between two study rooms. A table in the middle of the room waits for students to throw their rough drafts down for revision, and a whiteboard spanning one of the walls occasionally contains a cartoonish doodle or a rough outline for an English paper. The shelves of disorganized law books on the opposite wall give the room a studious quality, even though the students who tried to alphabetize them last year renounced the project halfway through.

From 5PM to 10PM, Monday through Thursday, and during contact hour, the door to this small room remains propped open. The peer tutors who inhabit it are chosen based on faculty recommendations, and they come from a wide range of disciplines including Psychology, English, History, and Biology. When they are not helping a freshman plan an outline for their Cornerstone paper or dissecting and analyzing a poem or short story with an upperclassman, they are hunched diligently over their own assignments.

Katie Farr

As she defended her laptop from an invasion of sugar ants, a recurring problem in the Writing Center conquered by the faculty advisor, Justin Thurman, senior Katie Farr explained why she has chosen to work here for the past two years. “I already enjoyed writing papers, so helping other people with their essays seemed like a cool way to improve my own writing.”

Sophomore Jayme Middleton agreed, saying, “I was already helping all of my friends with their papers, so this isn’t that different.” After her time here at Lagrange College, Jayme plans to become an English teacher, so she is excited for the opportunity to gain teaching experience while she is still an undergraduate.

Jayme Middleton

Jayme has only worked in the Writing Center for a couple of weeks, but she is already learning what teaching methods she prefers to use. To start with, she has every student read their paper out loud. Hearing their writing helps students notice mistakes that they would ordinarily skip over. They also see that they can even catch some of these mistakes on their own.  

Katie has picked up a few tricks to make her Writing Center experience run smoothly. “I always like to read over the rubric with the students to make sure we both understand what they are being asked to do,” Katie explained. If a student does not fully understand what the prompt is asking, then the assignment becomes more difficult, and they may not even be answering the right question. Having a second pair of eyes and a fresh perspective can be extremely helpful.

Above all, a visit to the Writing Center should not feel like a chore or something that a student has to check off of a syllabus in order to earn an A. It should not be seen as a place where red pen marks reprimand them for citation errors and comma splices. As a rule, the door to the Writing Center remains open during its operation hours in order to make it seem more approachable, but its warm, welcoming atmosphere can be attributed to the kindness and enthusiasm of the students who work there. “My favorite part about working here is getting to meet a bunch of different people,” Katie said with a smile. “I would never get to meet a lot of these students without this job.”

Honing the craft of writing does not only help with writing essays, but as Katie explained, “This experience has taught me how to articulate my thoughts in a way that other people can understand.” Every student can benefit from a visit to the Writing Center, because not only can it improve their writing skills, but it also teaches them how to organize and convey their thoughts to other people, on and off the page.

Sierra Valdez
Lilly DeGennaro

To meet the other members of the Writing Center, Cary, Sierra, Lilly, and Aatiq, drop by and meet with them for a chat.

Not pictured: Cary and Aatiq

Alexis Westrick is an Art and English double major from Newnan, Georgia. She plans to graduate in the Spring of 2021. This is her first time writing for the Hilltop News.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s