University of Chicago College core writing tutors

Availability of walk-in tutors: The Writing Tutor program will resume in the Autumn Quarter (on Sunday, October 1, 2017).

Writing Tutors are available during the Autumn, Winter, and Spring academic quarters, beginning in Week Two and extending through Finals Week. Students writing papers for the Common Core can come for writing support in the evenings from 6:00pm until 11:00pm, Sunday through Thursday. In a typical quarter, one of our Writing Tutors is also available in the afternoon one or two days per week. No appointment is necessary!

You can keep track of late-breaking and last-minute updates to the schedule on Facebook.

Why Tutors?

The University's Common Core has a significant writing component. Students taking Core courses can end up writing dozens of papers in an academic year. These papers present significant challenges, since students must not only understand the course material, but construct an argument about it that is coherent, sound, and intellectually significant.

The College Core Writing Tutors can help students tackle these tasks. Working as an extension of the Writing Program, Tutors act as a resource to help Core students develop and improve the organization, coherence, and argumentative sophistication of their essays. Tutors can work with students through the entire writing processfrom the crucial moments of brainstorming and questioning, to drafted/outlined material, to full drafts.

All Core students are welcome to drop in and see the tutors; no appointment or advance sign-up is necessary. Although the tutors work with students on a drop-in basis, they can become very busy during certain weeks of the quarter, particularly mid-term and then again in weeks 10 and 11. It is therefore advisable to plan ahead and come see a Tutor well in advance of when the paper is due, in order to ensure that a student can have enough time with the Tutor and to revise or write the paper afterwards.

The ESL Writing specialist. As noted above, an ESL writing specialist will be available in Autumn on Tuesdays from 6-8pm. The ESL Writing Specialist provides support for non-native English speakers seeking assistance with their Core writing assignments. The specialist helps students build their knowledge of North American academic stylistic features and conventions related to the proper integration and citation of sources. The specialist can also provide analysis of sentence level structural errors and teach students strategies to to avoid these moving forward.

What do tutors do?

The short version: Writing Tutors teach writing on a one-on-one basis. They're not copyeditors or proofreaders; instead, they work with students on individual papers in order to help improve students' overall skills in academic argumentation and structure.

Some things Tutors can do for students in the Common Core:

  • Brainstorm on how to get started on a paper or how to best approach a paper assignment or prompt, particularly in terms of how to construct an argument.
  • Read a full or partial draft of a paper and comment on its overall argumentation. This kind of comment can include, but is not limited to, logical flow of argument, effective uses of quotes and other types of evidence, persuasive placement of points, etc.
  • Read a full or partial draft of a paper and comment on its organization, both globally and at the paragraph level.
  • Spot patterns of grammatical errors in a student's prose and teach the student how to identify and correct these patterns.
  • Make suggestions for how to revise a paper for greater coherence, clarity, and persuasiveness of argument.

Some things Tutors do not do:

  • Work on course readings or content. Tutors can discuss course texts or content insofar as this directly pertains to improving a paper, but more in-depth discussions on content should be perused with course instructors, TA's, or Writing Interns.
  • Copy-edit or 'correct' the paper. Tutors are there to teach students how to improve their writing, and not to 'fix' papers for students.
  • Correct grammar errors in a paper. Again, tutors can look for patterns and help teach students how to self-correct, but cannot go through and adjust the paper to be grammatically correct (i.e. switching tenses, subject-verb agreement, etc).
  • Read papers longer than 10 pages.

What if you're not taking a Core course?

Writing tutors are required to give first priority to undergraduates working on papers for the College Common Core (the Humanities Core, the Social Sciences Core, and so on). If no Core students are waiting to be served, tutors may, at their discretion, read papers for other classes or other types of documents. As a practical matter, during busy times of the quarter when many Core papers are due, it's likely that all of a Tutor's time will be devoted to assisting students with Common Core papers.

If you're seeking help on larger projects or non-Core-related projects, you may contact the University Writing Program (writing-program@uchicago.edu) for help in finding a suitable Tutor or editor.