By Brian Coatney
Some of the most boring announcements in the world are about tutoring services — until you need a tutor. When you need one, nothing else will quite do.
Some years ago, writing instructors at Hopkinsville Community College realized the need for a writing center.
Now, both campuses, in Hopkinsville and Fort Campbell, have a writing center. I’m familiar with the latter from teaching there six years.
The days are long gone of sitting down late in the evening to dash off a theme. Instead, your instructor won’t even accept your theme until you’ve turned in drafting work for review first.
Writing can be like ceiling repair, where the worker says, “It needs to dry a day, and then I’ll come back and do the next thing.”
Some students feel overwhelmed with the writing process. They might be shy, need more time, aren’t comfortable with college yet, or simply need a relaxed setting away from class with nurturing mentors.
The Fort Campbell campus draws many students whose second language is English, and most of these students show amazing drive and perseverance. Then, there are students going back to school after working jobs that stalled out and offered no more promise without more schooling. Add to all this, most students are balancing school with work and family, and it’s clear that getting from point A to point B means learning more efficiently and finding resources for help.
Every now and then, it’s obvious that tutoring would be just right for some of my students. When the opportunity arises, I tell them about the writing center and offer to introduce them to the Fort Campbell tutor, Mindy Weiss. It’s a joy when the student says yes.
We take the walk there, and Mindy greets them with a warm reception. Her patience, grace and understanding have helped students lift themselves to the next level in their writing.
Often, a “center” is a cultural or political icon for great music or ideas. In this case, “center” means the student gets to be the center of a lot of attention not possible during regular class time.
Going for tutoring does not mean a student isn’t smart. Quite the contrary, getting help is beneficial to everyone who wants to advance.
Reasons to visit the writing center:
1. English is not your first language.
2. English is your first language, but you are stuck in the cliché, “I can’t write.”
3. You kind of know what you want to say, but you don’t know how to say it.
4. You’ve got some ideas down, but they don’t connect yet.
5. Your sentences are all vanilla, and, as good as vanilla is, you can’t make it on just vanilla.
6. You wish there was no such thing as punctuation, but there is.
7. You would like to just copy and paste from a source, but you remember your instructor’s unbending ferocity against plagiarism.
8. You’re in class or at home lost, thinking, “Is there anybody out there who can help me?”