Last year, I had the opportunity to start working at the Emory writing center as a tutor. I was excited to work with students in an area that I loved and enjoyed: English and writing. Many students believe that the writing center is there to proofread and edit students papers. However, this is the opposite of what we tutors do in the writing center. We are not there to help with one paper, we want to give writers skills and tips that they can transfer to other assignments and other writing related work in the future.
One part of the job I like the most is the fact that I have the chance to be exposed to different types of writing. While working at the writing center, I read Fulbright applications to philosophy essays. Although it is a major help to have a background in some of the literature and materials, the ability to be a fresh set of eyes for another person is sometimes all they need. When I am unfamiliar with a topic, I am able to play the role of someone not in the field and can offer advice based on understanding the particular field's jargon. Furthermore, it is a great way to learn new information. On the other hand, if I am knowledgeable in the field, I can ask questions that urge the writer to delve deeper and expand on a topic.
I also enjoy working with the same people and being able to see their improvement over time. It is a good feeling to see certain techniques I have explained before being used in different assignments. I also have the chance to check in with the writer and ask how the last assignment we worked on went.
My least favorite part is the mental exhaustion when I have back-to-back sessions. I have fifteen minutes between sessions, but sometimes a session will run overtime and I will rush to complete the client report. Then I am left with no time to prepare myself for the next writer. Similarly, if multiple writers come in with challenging assignments, I find myself having to work harder to understand and offer constructive advice. It can be draining to try to help a writer not only revise their writing, but also understand the prompt better or sometimes the sources they used.
Although the writing center is primarily for writing assignments. I appreciate that the writing center has repeated sessions with the same person to improve their English by practicing with them weekly if they choose to do so. Moreover, a student is not required to bring in a draft if they don't have one. We also help with brainstorming, outlining, and simply talking ideas out loud with someone. The last method is one that many writers find extremely helpful. They may not enter the writing center with a draft but they often leave with one.
I am looking forward to working at the writing center for the spring semester. I hope to become a better tutor and learn more as I continue my work as a tutor.