How Appointments Work

Appointments last up to 50 minutes long and begin on the hour. Writing Center tutors will read your draft during the first 10-15 minutes of the appointment; we do not read papers ahead of time. We believe your active participation in the consultation will help you become a better reader, writer, and reviser of your own work.

NOTE: For the Fall 2021 semester, Sunday and Thursday appointments will be held remotely (Zoom or phone) and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday appointments will be held in-person in the Hut (Gilman 230).

Starting Your Appointment

In-Person Appointments

  • If you have already made an appointment on Starfish, you can walk into Gilman 230 at or before your designated appointment time and one of our tutors will be ready to assist you.
  • Please show up on time! Students who are more than 15 mins late to their appointment cannot be accommodated and will need to reschedule.
  • We also offer walk-in appointments depending on availability. Note that walk-ins cannot be guaranteed.

Zoom Appointments

  • Before the start of your appointment, you will need to send a copy of your draft to the Writing Center gmail account at This should be a Word document in .doc or .docx format (please do not send a link to an editable Google doc or webpage). It is generally best to wait to hear from your tutor, who will be in touch within an hour of your appointment time, so that you can send your draft to your tutor directly.
  • Shortly before the start time of your appointment, you can expect an email inviting you to join a meeting in progress. Click the link to join the meeting or copy the meeting ID and paste it in the box that appears when you click ‘Join.’
  • You and your tutor will meet virtually and they will ask you some questions about the assignment.
  • The tutor will then read your document and will reconnect with you about 20 minutes later. You will discuss your paper using the ‘Share’ function (initiated by the tutor).

Phone Appointments

  • If you have opted for a phone appointment, please send a copy of your draft to in advance of your scheduled appointment time.
  • The tutor will open and begin reading your document at the start of your appointment but will not be in touch with you right away. You should not expect to hear from them for about 20 minutes as they go through the document.
  • The tutor will then email you a copy of your draft with their comments. Please look over these edits as you wait for them to call you to discuss the draft.

Working With Your Tutor

At the beginning of the session, your tutor will ask you about your assignment and how you have begun to approach it. If you have not yet written anything, you and your tutor may discuss your ideas and consider different ways of developing and organizing them. You may leave the session with an outline or a thesis statement, or you may discover that you need to do more research before you can begin an outline.

If you have written something, including an outline or notes, your tutor will read through your writing and will discuss the strong and weak points of it with you. Our main interest is the argument and structure of your paper. Among other things, we will attempt to determine whether you have responded to an assignment properly; whether you have a thesis and have supported it with evidence; and whether your paragraphs are cohesive and placed in a logical order.

They’ll also discuss style and mechanics. Your tutor may use part of a session to ensure that your sentences are clear, concise, and grammatically correct or that you have cited your sources appropriately. Your tutor will not edit or proofread your writing. Instead, your tutor will try to point out patterns of error and explain the grammatical or stylistic rules that will enable you to identify your own mistakes in the future.

Be sure to ask questions if anything your tutor says is unclear. Also, if you think your tutor is overlooking possible problems in your essay, you are welcome to suggest other areas of discussion.

Longer Papers and Group Work

Longer term papers can be evaluated; however, your tutor will read no more than 10 pages. You may direct your tutor to read certain pages, or you may ask your tutor to read through the first 10 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. If multiple students have produced a single text as part of a group project, all students must attend the tutoring consultation.

English as a Second Language

The Writing Center staff is 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. The Center for Leadership Education and Center for Language Education offer options for ESL support.

After Your Appointment

After your appointment, you should let your tutor know if 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.

Whether you are a new or returning student, your tutor will also ask you to fill out a short survey about your consultation. This should take only a minute or two to complete and helps us to continually evaluate how we might better serve the student population at Hopkins.