Our mission as part of the Department of English and the Academic Support Center is to enrich the educational experience of Pitt undergraduate and graduate students through one-on-one support in various aspects of the writing process (all the way from document planning to review of rules governing sentence structure). Being able to express yourself in writing is important to your life both inside and outside of college. Our job is to help you become a better writer.
We can teach you how to better understand your own writing process, how to work on your own writing, how to read writing assignments, and how to proofread, for example. We sometimes offer special workshops on topics associated with writing certain kinds of documents or conducting research (if you would like to be on our notification list for upcoming workshops, please e-mail Jean Grace).
You are welcome to come to the Writing Center at any time: at the beginning of the process, when you have just gotten an assignment; after you have a draft or part of a draft pulled together; after you have gotten feedback from your teacher or your peers in class and you want to start revising; and as you are finishing up a draft and want some help in learning how to edit and proofread your own work. It is our hope that we can help you grow as a writer, whether you come once a term or every week.
Because our main interest is in helping you become a better writer, we can't write your papers for you and we can't edit or proofread papers for you. If we did this work for you, we would be violating our reason for being, and we would not be serving you as teachers.
How can the writing center help me learn to edit and proofread my writing?
If you do decide to come to us near the end of your writing process, when you are ready to start editing and proofreading, we can help you identify problematic patterns in your writing that you can look for when you edit on your own. We can also teach you some helpful proofreading strategies (for example did you know that some editors find it helpful to start proofreading at the end of a paper and read sentence by sentence until they reach the beginning?). And we can explain concepts or issues that may have hindered your effectiveness as a writer in the past. For example, if your readers have told you that you have trouble with coherence, transitions, development, or specific mechanical issues (like using commas or semicolons effectively), we can help you understand what that means when it comes to your words on the page.
At the beginning of each session, you can set goals for the work you and your consultant are going to do. If you have trouble, for instance, with idiomatic phrases or with commas, and you state this at the beginning, the tutor will be able to identify and focus on errors in the draft that fit this description, provide some tips on preventing or correcting such errors, and give you feedback on your own efforts to correct such errors.
It runs counter to the Writing Center's mission for a tutor to simply find and correct as many errors as he or she can locate during the session. So we are not likely to work with you through every page of a paper; we are more likely to work with you on a couple of pages of it and then ask you to take what you have learned and try editing the rest yourself. If you wish, you can always come back later to the same consultant or another one to see how your abilities are growing and to define some new areas to work on. We work with some students throughout their college careers here at Pitt.
Please visit us and see for yourself how we can help you learn more about your writing.