The NMSU Writing Center can help your students become more effective writers primarily through free one-on-one consulting. Our Center is staffed by graduate assistants who teach undergraduate writing courses through the English Department, but the Writing Center is a service for undergraduate and graduate students of any discipline.
We can work with your students on writing at any stage, from understanding assignment directions to brainstorming to revising final drafts. We are not an editing service but are here to help your students learn more about writing and to write more effectively. Rather than fixing spelling and grammar on your students’ papers, we help them identify and correct their own mistakes. Our policy is to not discuss grades or make evaluative comments about assignments or instructors’ teaching methods. Please encourage your students to come in and see us.
Information for Instructors and Professors Regarding the Writing Center at NMSU
You may have worked with the writing center many times in the past; you may have not realized NMSU has a free writing center! Whatever your familiarity with our writing center at NMSU, please read the below information to ensure that we’re able to work with you to provide the best support for your students and their writing!
Please see the end of this document for a list of do’s and don’ts of utilizing the writing center; please see below for detailed information on how the writing center functions and what we can provide for you and your students!
- Understanding How the Writing Center Works
The NMSU Writing Center is a free resource for students and faculty where our consultants (comprising of graduate students from the English department) work to help produce effective writing for a variety of situations. We have worked with students and faculty on everything from understanding an assignment to organizing a resume to polishing a final draft of a thesis section.
We are not a copyediting service, however; our goal is not to go through and “fix” grammar or formatting, but to help students and faculty grow in their writing. Our consultants can talk through grammatical patterns that they notice in a piece, for example, but they will not go through and seek out each individual mistake. We do have a list of excellent copy editors in the area who set their own rates and would gladly speak with you about their services. If you are interested in this list, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or our director, Dr. Lawrence, at email@example.com. We also do not grade your students’ work. While we recognize that attaining certain grades is often high on a student’s list of priorities, we cannot promise specific grades and it is not our responsibility to do so. We are not here to evaluate your students’ writing, as that is your realm! Finally, we are not responsible for the final work that your students turn into you. While we work on drafts with students, we ultimately cannot say precisely what a student may or may not edit after working with a consultant, and while we have proof slips to show that a student visited, we cannot know or guarantee what a student will do with the feedback we provide once we’ve given it.
- Your Students in the Writing Center
When bringing a piece to the writing center, whether online or on-site, it’s always helpful to bring as much information about the assignment as possible. What are a student’s goals for the piece? Do they have assignment guidelines? The more information a student provides to their consultant, the more helpful support and feedback the consultant will be able to give. We ask that you prepare your students by telling them to come to the writing center with specific goals and guidelines they’d like to meet. When you recommend or require that students visit the writing center, we strongly encourage that you discuss with your students what they can expect when they bring in or submit their pieces. Students should have specific reasons for visiting the writing center outside of the requirement; when you discuss the required visit with your students, be sure to let them know why you are requiring the visit and what sort of feedback they should seek out or request.
If you are requiring that students bring an assignment to the writing center, that’s great! We’d love to work with your students to help shape and polish their writing. That said, we ask that if you are planning to require a visit to the writing center, you reach out to us (at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) to let us know at least a week in advance of the assignment’s deadline that you plan to require this visit. You should also include the assignment’s guidelines when you reach out to us. This serves to allow us to notify our consultants that they can expect students from your class and distribute your assignment guidelines to all our consultants; additionally, this allows us to ensure that we are able to accommodate your students and provide them with the best support possible for your assignment. If we receive your notice that you have required a visit to the writing center, and the deadline for that assignment is approaching, we can be more prepared for your students when they come in.
- The On-Site Writing Center
The on-site writing center is open from Monday – Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Friday. We are located in Clara Belle Williams Hall, room 102. We work with students in 15-30 minute blocks in our on-site writing center and we do not require appointments. We limit our sessions to a maximum of 30 minutes, as studies show that writing center sessions are less effective after this time. If a student’s work is longer and requires more time, we ask that they return later to continue their session. This also ensures that students do not have to wait too long for a consultation, as our consultants are limited in number. Students can expect to wait up to 30 minutes for a consultation during busy parts of the semester, such as the week before final exams.
The on-site writing center is convenient for students who are able to make it to the Las Cruces campus and spend half an hour working with a consultant to get immediate feedback and support for their work. Students can also work directly with their consultant, who can adjust feedback based on what the student needs in the moment of expression.
- The Online Writing Center
Our online writing center page can be reached at https://towc.nmsu.edu/consultations/online/, which links directly to the survey that students will use to submit their work for review, which is here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NMSUonlinewc. Students will fill out our appointment request form, which asks for information such as the assignment’s due date and what the student wants feedback on. We require at least 3-4 business days before the assignment is due to provide feedback; holidays and school breaks do not count as business days. After 3-4 business days, the firstname.lastname@example.org email will send the student their document with feedback from one of our online consultants. Submissions are limited to no more than 15 pages, and we also only accept one online submission per student per week due to demand and consultant availability.
The online writing center is convenient because students who have drafts for review 3-4 business days before their deadline can expect the same level of quality feedback and support for their writing as our in-person consultants provide. While we have limited online availability, this option is ideal for students who are not able to make it into our on-site writing center.
Do’s and Don’ts of Utilizing the NMSU Writing Center
- Tell your students to expect quality feedback on their writing and ideas.
- Give your students specific ideas for what feedback they should seek out from their consultant; they should not come to the writing center just because they are required to, but to accomplish specific goals.
- Encourage your students to bring their assignment guidelines to the writing center so that consultants can best support your students in meeting those goals and requirements.
- Email email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org a week before the due date for your assignment with a required visit to the writing center. Include your assignments’ guidelines!
- Tell your students to ask for proof of visit slips if they are visiting the on-site writing center and you’d like to see that they visited.
- Let your students know to prepare for up to 30 minutes of waiting at the on-site writing center during busy times of the semester.
- Let your students know they must submit pieces to the online writing center with at least 3-4 business days of time before the assignment’s deadline.
- Send your students to the writing center for copyediting or formatting purposes only. If you require copyediting services, please email email@example.com for a list of copyeditors in the area who set their own rates.
- Send your students to the writing center with vague or nonspecific reasons for coming. We are unable to help your students effectively if they are unable to tell us why they’re bringing a piece to the writing center.
- Require your whole class to visit to the writing center without emailing us to let us know your assignment guidelines and to expect your students. We are a small center and it can be difficult when 30 people show up at once!
- Ask the writing center to provide exact information on what a consultant discussed with your student. We are not responsible for what students choose to change or edit after their consultations with us, and we are not able to provide more specific information than the name of the assignment we worked on with the student and the date the student came in.
- Expect consultants to evaluate students’ writing to your specifications every time. While we strive to work with students to meet your assignment guidelines when we have them, we cannot know precisely what your specifications are.
- Expect that students will always receive immediate service. Because we are staffed by English graduate students who work 4-6 hours in the writing center each week, we are limited in our resources. While we do our best to work with each student who comes to the writing center, we may not be able to fit the schedule of each individual student in peak times during the semester.
We have created a Writing Center Orientation PowerPoint that you can show your students. The PowerPoint covers all the important information about the Writing Center, including our hours and location, services, and more. After viewing the PowerPoint, we encourage you to show your students the Center’s physical location. However, please be respectful of in-progress consultations. We find that students who have been to the Writing Center at least once are significantly more likely to return when they need assistance.
Often instructors encourage their students to visit us by giving extra credit for a visit. As proof of a visit, have your students ask for a Proof Slip from their consultant.
We do not encourage making Writing Center visits mandatory. Required visits can be frustrating for the student and consultant because the student often is not motivated by their own desire to improve their writing. Because we are focused on students learning about writing, we do not dictate changes to students or correct their papers. Instead, we are invested in teaching students to become more effective writers by helping them acquire the skills and confidence to make changes themselves.