No prompts or preparations are required for students to get help with their lab reports or reflection papers at New College of Florida’s Writing Resource Center (WRC). Tucked away down a hall in the Jane Banecroft library, New College’s Student Writing Assistants (SWAs) are at the ready to help with final papers, theses, or any other writing needs.
With finals approaching, students are finding themselves facing down page counts that may appear overwhelming. Thesis students are juggling continued thesis work with finals. The WRC is there for the students of New College whether their final papers are due in one week’s time or it is mid-September and they are just feeling stuck on an assignment. Chelsea Torregrosa, a thesis-student and SWA, wants people to know that this work can be made manageable through visits to the WRC.
“I want people to know that you do not have to be struggling to come in here, we can make things easier for you before you start to struggle… we do take struggling people and make their lives easier too but you don’t have to be struggling to come in,” Torregrosa said.
Torregrosa has been a SWA since her second year at New College. She often emphasizes the importance of organization in the writing process. Torregrosa discussed how mini-deadlines make writing more comfortable.
“We can help people with time management so if you want to come in and talk about how to possibly get things done, we can break it down into manageable pieces,” Torregrosa said.
Apart from the standard appointment, the Writing Resource Center has additional offerings such as Thesiscamp, which is three four-day blocks in January where thesis students can make progress on their theses, get feedback and work among other thesis students. They also offer late night hours every spring semester known as Thesiscrunch for thesis students only.
Dr. Jennifer Wells, Director of Writing, also oversees a Healthy Writing Habits Tutorial for pre-thesis and thesis students.
“Healthy Writing Habits was helpful last semester because I was able to dispel rumors and fears [surrounding thesis] by setting myself up for success,” Torregrosa said of the Healthy Writing Habits tutorial. “I made a schedule with goals for the next year, it made it completely doable with the span of time that I have… Another great thing [about the tutorial] is that we celebrate each other’s successes.”
In order to join the tutorial, one must contact Dr. Wells.
Students are also encouraged to make recurring appointments in order to develop their writing skills and learn new tools or approaches. Everyone involved with the WRC is consistently updating their tools and strategies for the benefit of students. Dr. Wells discussed what has been done to improve the center since she came on four years ago, giving the example of how SWA’s are trained.
“Before, SWAs were not required to take a full semester course before being eligible to apply to be a SWA,” Wells said. “As a result, there were concerns about whether or not SWAs were qualified to work with students on writing, or whether SWAs were giving correct information to students. Now, all SWAs have taken Pedagogy in Practice as well as participated in additional training before each semester begins.”
“SWA’s are trained as generalists, we can help anyone with any paper,” Torregrosa said of their training. Although English and Literature is her Area of Concentration (AOC), she is equipped to help with lab reports and philosophy prompts alike.
Wells also brought up her collaboration with other centers through professional networks and the increased presence of New College’s Student Writing Assistants at conferences, which Torregrosa discussed as well.
“Lena and I presented at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention in Atlanta and did a presentation about our partnership with Outdoor Academy (ODA),” Torregrosa said, referring to their training of students attending Outdoor Academy as Student Writing Assistants.
SWA’s are constantly seeking new ways to do their jobs and help students write effectively. Every semester, they are expected to work on a SWA-ject. Torregrosa’s is a 2017-2018 SWA strategy book for future SWA’s and students alike to refer to. She hopes that future SWA’s will make editions for each year that follows.
The WRC is a resource for students, it is in place to alleviate any stresses of writing and aims to make writing a positive experience.
“There is sometimes a myth that writers write in isolation, or writing has to be awful, or that good writers just sit down and good writing pours out of them with no effort, but none of these things have to be true, and the WRC is a place where students can counter those myths with a healthier reality,” Wells said. “There is also a New College specific myth that NCF students don’t need help, or asking for help is a sign of weakness.”
“Half of NCF students have figured out coming to the WRC isn’t even about getting help, it is just about not being alone in the writing process, about making writing less stressful, and about realizing all writers struggle to write well and there are things the WRC can offer to make it better,” Wells said.
To schedule an appointment at the WRC, go to ncf.mywconline.com.