FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: I came to the Writing Center, but my tutor did not write a lot on my essay. Why was that?
A: As noted elsewhere, the Writing Center does not provide editing or proofreading services. Tutors at the Writing Center are trained to provide you with guidance on your writing, not to take notes for you. We firmly believe that it is the student's responsibility to record what a tutor has to say. If any student comes to the Writing Center without a writing utensil or a piece of paper, we will be happy to provide these items. That said, we also encourage you to come to your session prepared to take notes.
Q: Why won’t tutors read essays before students come to the Writing Center?
A: We believe that your assignment is, and should be, your own and that you should learn to improve your writing through practice. Because good practice includes good discussion, we insist that tutors not read essays before talking to students about their prompts, their goals in coming to the Writing Center, and their instructors’ expectations and/or previous feedback. Submitting your essay before your appointment would mean that tutors would become responsible for your assignment without ever having discussed it with you.
Q: Is the Writing Center able to contact my instructor in order to let him or her know I attended a consultation?
A: We certainly are. After your appointment, you should let your tutor know that you would like your instructor to receive confirmation of your consultation. You will need to provide your tutor with your instructor’s email address when you make your request.
Q: I am working on a twenty-page term paper. May I bring that to the Writing Center?
A: Certainly. During any given session, however, your tutor will read no more than ten pages. You may direct your tutor to read certain pages, or you may ask him or her to read through the first ten pages of the document. In either case, we invite you to make multiple appointments at the Writing Center so that the entirety of your paper may be reviewed.
Q: My second language is English. Will the Writing Center help me with grammar, punctuation, and syntax?
A. The Writing Center staff are trained to help students as they construct arguments and organize their essays. While good grammar and syntax play a role in any strong argument or well-organized paper, the Writing Center does not offer proofreading services or ESL instruction. If English is your second language, we will be happy to help you, but grammatical and syntactical concerns will be of secondary interest as we work with you to improve your essay’s thesis and structure.
Q: I am a graduate student. Am I allowed to make appointments at the Writing Center?
A. Yes, you are, provided you are enrolled in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences or the Whiting School of Engineering. Please be advised, however, that our staff members are affiliated with a variety of departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences and will therefore be unable to provide extensive critiques of the content of your writing, especially if you have composed a highly technical essay. That said, we will certainly be glad to assist you with organization, structure, and fluidity.
**Note: The Writing Center does NOT help students affiliated with the following schools: the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the School of Education, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Carey Business School, or the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Q: Will the Writing Center help me with my cover letter, resume, CV, technical writing, business memo, etc.?
A: We’re sorry, but our staff are trained to assist students with argument-based writing alone. They are not instructed how to help students as they compose resumes, cover letters, or CVs; nor are staff members familiar with the many conventions that make good technical or business writing.
Q: Will the Writing Center help me with a grant or grant proposal?
A: We're sorry, but our staff is not trained to help students with grants or grant proposals.
Q: May I request a particular tutor?
A: Yes, you may. Either online or in person, you may express your interest to work with a particular individual, and we will try to accommodate you.
Q: Why is it not possible for me to have a consultation on the day my paper is due?
A: At the Writing Center, we view the editing process as a serious one. We know it takes time, thought, and hard work to edit a paper successfully, and we know that students will gain the most from their consultations if they are able to reflect afterwards on the matters discussed during a session. When students have essays due the same day as their appointments, they are simply unable to dedicate the necessary time and effort to the editing process. Moreover, a looming due date may negatively affect the direction of a consultation.
Q: Am I able to get help on my take-home exam?
A: We’re sorry, but we do not help students with take-home exams unless their instructors have given explicit permission that such assistance may be provided. If your instructor does not mind that you receive help, you will still need to take one of the following courses of action: first, you may ask your instructor to email the Writing Center directly; second, you may collect a "Permission Slip" from the Writing Center and have this slip signed and dated by your instructor.
Q: Does the Writing Center help alumni?
A: We do help alumni, but only with the primary personal statement required for admission to medical school, law school, or other graduate programs. Alumni who are outside of the Baltimore/Washington region are also eligible for phone appointments. Please see below for more information on phone appointments.
Q: Is it possible for me to have someone look over my secondary essays for graduate or professional school?
A: We’re sorry, but staffing constraints at the Writing Center make it impossible for our tutors to review secondary essays. We are, however, very happy to help you as you prepare the main personal statement for any graduate or professional school.
Q: If I am in Washington, D.C., may I schedule a phone appointment with the Writing Center?
A: We’re sorry for any inconvenience, but all students in the Baltimore/Washington area must schedule in-person appointments at the Writing Center.
Q: How do phone appointments work?
A: At least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment, you should email a copy of your personal statement to the Writing Center. Once the hour for your appointment begins, your tutor will start reading your document, and in most cases, he or she will make comments on it using track changes. This process takes between 15 and 30 minutes. Around the half-hour mark of your appointment time, your tutor will call you at the number you provided when you scheduled your consultation. (If you do not receive a call before that time, do not worry! You have not been forgotten.) Before calling, your tutor will most likely have emailed you back a version of your document that includes comments. During the ensuing telephone conversation, he or she will discuss possible revisions with you. After your appointment, please make sure to return to the Writing Center scheduler and complete the evaluation for your consultation.
**Note: To schedule a phone appointment, you must be outside the Baltimore-Washington area.
Q: I am an employee of Johns Hopkins University. May I bring an essay, resume, or personal statement to the Writing Center?
A: We’re sorry, but we help only those students who are enrolled in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences or the Whiting School of Engineering.
Q: I believe that my non-college-aged child would benefit from tutoring in writing. May my child meet with one of your tutors?
A. We’re sorry, but we help only those students who have matriculated at Johns Hopkins University. We can, however, send out a notice to our tutors to see if anyone would be interested in helping your child outside of the Writing Center’s hours. If you are interested in this possibility, please send an email describing your wishes to email@example.com.
Q: How do I become a tutor at the Writing Center?
A: Please see the “Prospective Tutors” page on this site for more details.
Q: What can I do to make my session go more smoothly?
A: Trite as it may sound, an open mind is the most important thing you can bring to your appointment. Aside from that, your tutor will also be appreciative if you bring a double-spaced hard copy of your essay and the relevant assignment sheet or prompt. You are also welcome to bring in examples of your previously graded work.