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The Lab

Getting the Most out of Your Tutoring Appointment

Students coming to the Writer’s Resource Lab for the first time often do not know what to expect from an appointment with a peer tutor. It can be difficult to know how to ask questions or explain concerns. Sometimes it’s difficult just asking for assistance in the first place. Here are some helpful hints to make your tutoring appointment as effective as possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Students can be insecure about asking someone else for help on a writing assignment because they are afraid of looking “foolish” or “stupid.” But the smart student is one who knows when to get outside assistance. Coming to the WRL for a tutoring appointment shows that you are ready to learn. This goes for asking questions during a session as well: don’t hesitate to ask your tutor for help if you don’t understand something he/she said.

Make your appointment as early as possible. This point cannot be stressed enough. If you know you are having difficulty with an assignment, come by or call the WRL to make an appointment immediately. Tutoring appointments are given out on a first come first serve basis. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to get an appointment when you need one. Also, use your appointment effectively by being on time.

Bring your assignment sheet to the session. Having an assignment sheet with you serves two purposes; one, it helps the tutor understand what is required; and two, it can help you clarify what an assignment is asking for. Sometimes just knowing what needs to be done answers a lot of questions. You can also bring in any other relevant materials (texts, outside sources, etc.) that may help your tutor assist you. If your instructor doesn’t give out assignment sheets, be sure to take careful notes when he/she gives the assignment in class.

Have specific questions/concerns ready for your tutor. Be prepared to tell your tutor what you want or need to focus on. Make a list of questions before your appointment and try to decide what is most important to you. But remember to be flexible: sometimes the tutor might see an issue that affects all the other things you want help with. For example, correcting all the verb tenses won’t help your writing if you don’t have a clear focus for your paper.

Participate in your tutoring session. Interacting with your tutor might be the best tool you have for making sure your session is helpful. Respond to the tutor’s questions and ask your own questions. Take notes, make corrections on the paper, and look up words in the dictionary. You are the writer; you are in control of your writing. That means you should be the one doing the work.

Don’t expect to cover everything or have a “perfect” paper at the end of a session. Tutoring sessions at the WRL last about 45 minutes. That sounds like a lot of time, but it isn’t enough to go over every concern students have about writing. By prioritizing your needs, you make sure the most important issues get covered. And don’t worry if you don’t go over every line of your paper. Part of having a good tutoring session is being able to apply what you learned when the session is over.