When you first come to the Writing Lab, it can be a scary thing. You’re not sure what to expect, you don’t know if a tutor can help, and you’re really not sure what to do or say. Tutors have the same emotions during their first few tutoring sessions. A tutoring session usually involves both the tutor and the student trying to understand the other person and learn what he or she hopes to get from the session. Therefore, it may be useful to get some insight into a Writing Lab tutor’s thoughts.

1. We understand how stressful college is. Every tutor in the Writing Lab has either been a college student or is currently taking classes. We know what it’s like to juggle classes, jobs, and family responsibilities. We know how hard you’ve worked on your paper, and we also know it may be hard to make the time to come in for a tutoring session. Therefore, we’ll do our best to help you.

2. We may obsess over minor issues in your paper. If we find an unusual grammatical issue in your paper, we may spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to correctly punctuate or capitalize it. You may consider it a minor issue in the scheme of things, but we want your paper to be correct. Also, we love a grammatical challenge.

3. We hate having to tell someone their paper’s totally wrong. We know how hard you’ve worked on your paper, so we hate having to tell you that your paper’s on the wrong track. Usually, something is salvageable, but we feel less guilty letting you know it needs redone that we would letting you fail.

4. The rules may seem odd, but they’re ironclad and necessary. Yes, we know it’s frustrating to always have to have a print copy or to not be able to have an essay test reviewed without the instructor’s permission. But the tutor’s hands are tied on these things, and there are reasons for them. For instance, looking at a paper on a laptop takes twice as long as a print copy, so it would decrease the number of students we could help. Also, if we help on a test, we run the risk of being accused of helping someone cheat, even though we aren’t. In this case, it’s better safe than sorry.

5. We can tell when you’re just here because you’re required to come. If you just throw your paper on the table in front of us and say, “Fix it,” we can assume you don’t want to be here. We also assume that you probably won’t make most of the changes we suggest, but we’ll still help as much as we can. If you don’t make the changes, it’s your grade.

6. We’re not perfect. As hard as it is to believe, we can’t catch every missed comma or incorrect capitalization. We’re only human, not grammar-checking machines. We’ll do our best to help you try to catch all of the big-picture issues, but sometimes we may miss something. That’s why it’s a good idea to read back over your paper after incorporating the tutor’s suggestions.

7. Professors have different grading standards. Professors’ expectations vary quite a bit, so if you just bring in a paper without any guidelines, we can only give general advice. It’s helpful if you bring a prompt so we know what the paper requires. Also, don’t ask us to tell you what grade we would give the paper; we won’t tell you. Since professors grade so differently, our opinion may be quite different from theirs.

8. We know the Writing Lab location is inconvenient. Like you, we hate that we’re so far from a computer lab. Most of us park by Grauel, so it’s a long walk for us too. However, the walk across campus to see us will be worth it.

9. Coming in right before the deadline drives us crazy. If you bring a paper to the Writing Lab at 10:30 and it’s due at 11:00, there’s only so much help we can give. We can make some minor changes and discuss a few small issues, but you have no time to fix any major issues. Also, if you bring in a paper at 8:50, we will still have to close the Writing Lab at 9:00, so we won’t be able to get much done. It’s best to make sure that you bring in a paper early so you will have enough time to make the necessary changes.

10. Few things make us as happy as seeing our students succeed. We enjoy helping students improve their papers, and we love seeing a paper grow from a rough draft to a polished final draft. When students tell us that they got a good grade on a paper we helped them with, we feel like we’ve accomplished something. We know you put in the vast majority of the work, but we love being able to help you become a better writer and we’re proud of your success.