Our Purpose

The Writing Center is a space dedicated to the work and play of writing.

We Emphasize “Talk” in the Writing Center

The Writing Center offers free, individual conferences during which writers may discuss their writing with a trained student consultant. Writers may come in at any time in the writing process (brainstorming, development, rough draft, revisions, etc.). We encourage consultants to work side by side with writers, suggesting they read aloud the portions of their papers they want to focus on, as a way for them to “hear” themselves and learn the process of self-editing. The Writing Center provides assistance to all Carleton students in all departments and at all levels.

Dialogue is an essential component of the writing process, and writing consultants ask writers to retain ownership of their texts. Writers write on their papers; consultants talk. Consultants address writers’ concerns during tutorial sessions — discussing, collaborating, and exchanging ideas — to help writers achieve their particular goals.

We Encourage Writers to Establish Priorities for Their Conferences

Writers may make an appointment or drop by the Writing Center on 4th libe. When you arrive for your conference, a consultant will greet you and ask you a few questions about your writing project. If you’re responding to a writing assignment, please bring a copy of it.

The best conferences are those initiated by writers who come with a clear sense of purpose or specific questions:

  • Some students ask a consultant to help them understand an assignment and brainstorm ideas.
  • Other writers come with a rough draft and questions regarding organization and clarity.
  • Some writers want to know if their thesis is coming across clearly to someone else.
  • Writers also come with graded essays on which the instructor has written specific comments regarding the paper.

We Ask Writers to Read Aloud

When a writer visits the Center, they will read aloud parts or all of the draft. When a writer reads aloud, they are often more able to recognize awkward sentences and ideas that aren’t logically organized.

We Help With Grammar and Punctuation

Since the Writing Center wants visitors to better understand purpose, audience, and focus and to become more self-sufficient writers, Writing Center policy states that consultants may not write on any paper. But we can help you identify your sentence-level errors so you can avoid them in the future. See more on how we help with grammar and punctuation here.

We Encourage Writers to Set Up Appointments

We are delighted to work with writers who drop in the Writing Center without an appointment — as long as a consultant isn’t busy with someone who has made an appointment.

You can make an appointment through our online scheduling tool. You can reserve one or two 25-minute slots on 4th Libe. If a consultant is free, they will be happy to work with you if you drop in at our 4th Libe location.

Not sure what to ask to get the help you need?

Check out our Q cards: Questions to Ask to Get the Feedback you want! (Physical copies are available at the Writing Center.)